One year later
On this day a year ago, I was in the cardiac care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney after an emergency stent had saved my life the day before. For several years, October 9th had caused good feelings to well up in my heart but last year there was nothing good about October 9th and no one was more surprised than me.
Up until then, I had the same feelings about my health I had had all my life. I believed I was bullet proof, protected from all harm, eternal if you will. But that day proved I was mortal, just like everybody else in the world, and that all of our days are numbered.
My heart attack changed everything about me in good ways AND bad. I certainly quit taking life for granted. I took my friendships and relationships more seriously. I started going out on my deck every morning before the sun came up when it was quiet and still and marveled at our existence on this tiny planet in a vast universe. The budding of the trees in the spring and the grass turning green once more attracted my attention in ways it hadn't since I was a kid. I was seeing and experiencing things that I hadn't seen or experienced in a long time.
But I was also seeing death. As they were prepping me at the hospital here for my life flight to Kearney, I was being told I might not survive the flight. So I called my boys and their mother, told them what had happened and that I might not be talking to them again. There were tears and sadness and our love for each other seared into my very being. Thankfully, I DID survive the flight and am still alive a year later to write about it. But now I'm aware of every single thing that happens to my body that isn't supposed to. And sometimes that scares me. With fatal heart attacks, you're here one minute and gone the next. If you're alone, nothing can be done to save you and I'm alone a lot.
I am no longer comfortable assessing what my body is telling me because a year ago I diagnosed myself as having severe heartburn. Even when the chest pain almost caused me to lose consciousness at the restaurant where a group of faculty members eat every week, I still thought it was heartburn until my good friend, Jim Garretson, insisted that I go to the hospital.
If he hadn't, I most likely would have died that day.
I've always been an optimist. I always look for the silver lining in people even when it appears they don't have one. I think the outcome of an event is going to be the best it can possibly be which sometimes causes me pain and disappointment when it isn't but even then, I would rather hope for the best than expect the worst.
The bottom line is that I got an extra year to live and hopefully have several more in my future. I haven't made big changes in my life because I didn't think they were called for.
I need to drop a few pounds and get a little more exercise like most of us do but I'm still me, a failed human being just trying to do the best I can.