I interrupt this current Blog series on my 20 Points for Success to write instead a heart to heart, on a different topic, but one that, for what will be obvious in a few seconds, is pretty important and timely for me.
In a couple of days, I will find myself under the knife (and saw) of a heart surgeon who will be performing a triple bypass (my first but, thankfully, not his!).
As with many of us who have taken their health for granted for decades, this problem came to my attention only recently following an exam I didn’t want or think I would ever need. I thought feeling tired, a little lightheaded, and having a bit of “brain fog” came with age – just like wisdom and a refined palate! That exam led to the identification of an “electrical problem” with my heart (hence the nickname of “ticker,” I assume). That issue (called by the comforting term – complete heart block) was solved rather quickly and comparatively easily with a pacemaker implant in December (Merry Christmas). I felt great – right up until the cardiologist provided me with a CT scan that revealed some possible blockages in several arteries of the heart. Unable to determine much with the CT result, this led to another fine “procedure” called a left heart catheterization. Send up some dye to find the blockages, clean them up, get a stent or even two in place and go home. Nope. I was shocked to learn that I was the proud papa of no less than 6 blockages ranging from 50% for one to 100% for another, with a few in the middle in the 85% range. “No stent for you!” It was time for bypass surgery and the alternative was, well, let’s just say it wasn’t a good one. The artery with the most blockages was the Left Anterior Descending or LAD, also known by the bright and cheery name of, wait for it… The Widowmaker! This news came the day before I turned 67 (Happy Birthday!).
Though this upcoming surgery is unsettling (that means scary, in truth), I am most grateful that it can be planned and mapped out in advance. It doesn’t have to occur in the middle of the night in a snow storm when my doctor is in the Caribbean sipping rum. I can and have been preparing myself for this by reading what I find helpful and NOT reading what I find frightening. I am surrounded by my family and more friends than I deserve, and I can’t tell you how much that helps. When I wake up to all of them and their genuine well wishes to accompany their much appreciated gallows humor, I will be smiling, healthier, and maybe even wiser.
So… I thought this might be a good reason to interject this off-topic blog before part 3 of 4 in the 20 Points series comes out next Friday. It’s already written, since I don’t think I will feel much like writing for a few weeks. My doctor tells me I will no longer be able to vacuum, do dishes, weed, make the bed or try to make dinner – bummer. I will surely miss those activities while watching Andy Griffith reruns, major league baseball, and everything that Netflix produces. OK, my doctor never said those things, and to be honest, I will actually look forward to SOME of those chores, as it will mean I’m getting better.
Let me take a moment here as I close to ask each of you to pay attention to your body and your health.
I think we go through life not recognizing our small maladies as much more than an inconvenient part of aging, when we really must take each one seriously and have a professional tell us what we need to hear. Our new normal may not really be normal after all. We forget how good we used to feel when we could walk, run, and play without pain or complaint. We learn to believe that now we can neither sit down nor stand up without an audible gasp or moan. That shouldn’t be our normal. And thanks to the skills and experience of great doctors, unparalleled medical research, remarkable medicine, the healing power of our own minds, and the caring embrace of family and friends – our normal should feel wonderful!