A wake-up call
Thanksgiving 2015 was the start of a new life for me.
Actually, the episode began Wednesday night, November 25, 2015, while my wife, Barbara and I were watching "Pitch Perfect 2" with our granddaughter, Gracie, and Barbara's daughter, Debra, and our son-in-law, Tilman Adair.
Towards the end of the movie, my chest became constricted. At first, I thought I should have skipped the sausage earlier, because I know it often causes me heartburn, but Barbara had won a delicious pizza as the grand re-opening prize at Casey's West in McCook and I couldn't resist.
Despite all my twisting and turning ... and laying and standing ... and moving around ... the tightness in my chest and upper right arm would not go away.
I had been worried that something like this was going to happen because I had been having short times of tightness in my chest for the past several days.
Finally, about 12:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, I gave up. "You're going to have to take me to the Emergency Room," I told Barbara. "The pain won't go away."
Quickly, after tossing on some clothes, we were on our way to the McCook Community Hospital.
Everyone at the ER was nice and professionally regimented. They took pressures. They took temps. They wheeled in the EKG machine. They took blood. They said soothing, but urgent words.
Before I knew it, Austin Lambing and I were in the back part of an ambulance driven by Robert Johnson. We were headed for the Kearney Regional Medical Center.
We left Community Hospital at precisely 3:33 a.m. I know because Austin confirmed the time after I spotted the digitized red numbers on the timepiece above the back door of the ambulance.
One hour and 45 minutes later, we pulled into the Kearney Medical Center back lot, where, after a mighty cool pull over the parking lot pavement and the angling sidewalk, I luxuriated in the warmth of the hospital halls.
Again, for many of you, the next part is predictable. More tests, more blood, more EKGs and more stress tests.
The result, as expected, is that they did a heart catherization and stent and -- miraculously for me -- the pain went completely away.
Hallelujah! Thanks, God. And thank everyone else who helped me gain more time to enjoy my walk through life.
It was no big deal, really. Not anymore, since medical miracles have become routine. But, the hard truth is folks, I need to make some drastic changes in my diet and lifestyle, I overdid it and was back in the hospital by Saturday night. Now I am determined to make the changes to my diet, lifestyle, exercise and sleeping patterns.
I was back at my desk at the newspaper Tuesday, pacing myself but having lots of fun writing and selling ads.
Talk about being thankful. God couldn't have given me a better lesson about the preciousness of life.
I thank Him. I thank you. Let's live life to the fullest, folks. It's the least we can do in gratitude to our God.