Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Serious as a...

"You are lucky."

Those three word are among the little I remember of Friday, July 27th. A nurse said that to me very matter-of-factly. I'll get to that shortly.

I keep meaning to blog more (more than once a year). I might have a reason to be on here regularly now. I have some surprising challenges ahead of me in the next several months. I turned the big 4-0 last December and it really wasn't a big deal to me.

Everyone tells me a look younger than I am and I'm in better shape than most guys my age. Up until the time the kids and I moved back to Grandview in late May, I was in the gym 4-6 times a week and was on pace to lose the extra weight I put on in 2010. I'd gotten up to about 230 pounds and was weighing in around 210 when we moved back home.

The last few months have been a mix of immense blessing and trials. Just a few days before moving, an accidental fire damaged the home we were moving from. No one was hurt, praise God, but there are ongoing issues regarding the insurance and finances.

Other than that, it's been a great time. I'm now the Program Director for KLJC and am half of the afternoon show team. I've also managed to get a part-time job as the News Director & radio anchor for Missouri News Horizon. MNH is a non-profit journalism organization that provides statewide news coverage to radio, tv and newspaper outlets around Missouri.

I get to keep my hand in news and work full time in Christian radio! My children get to go back to Blue Ridge Christian School and we've been able to resume attending Southland Baptist Church - our church family.

Things were settling into place better than I could have imagined. I was even ready to start Shaun T's Insanity home fitness program on Monday the 30th. I was ready to amp up my fitness routine and take on a new challenge.

Boy-oh-boy did I get one. Just not the challenge for which I planned. Back to that Friday I mentioned above.

I took my car in for an oil change and then walked over to a fast food place. Suddenly, I wasn't feeling well. Have you ever had that feeling? A lump in your throat when something's wrong or you're worried or have some other emotion. I'm talking about that physical feeling. Tightness, pain, dry throat, discomfort in your upper chest.

Crank that up by 10. That's what I felt for a few minutes.

Then, waves of pain shot through my chest and, at times, my shoulders.

I managed to get my car, pop a couple aspirin and drive home. By then, it felt like a red-hot vice was squeezing my chest and pain was shooting down my left arm at times. By now, it was hard to breathe.

I sent my brother, Chris, a nonsensical text. He called, came over and then took me to the E.R.

At  the ripe old age of 40, I was having a serious heart attack. I remember some of the E.R., the tests and then an ambulance ride to Research Medical Center but much of the day is fuzzy.

I remember waking up on a table in the room where I was being treated. I asked how much was left in whatever was happening and was told they just finished up. As I was being moved from the table to a stretcher/hospital bed, the nurse looked down and said very plainly "You are lucky."

I didn't know what that meant until everyone filled me in later that night and the next day: there was a 100% blockage of one of my heart's arteries. The doctors had put a stent in me in that room. Another blockage was still happening - 90% - but that would have to wait until Monday. It turns out that I was still having the heart attack during the procedure, so they didn't want to push my body that far.

So, I rested for a couple days and, instead of starting my Insanity workouts, I was having a second cardiac stent installed in my chest. I could barely walk to the bathroom.

It didn't make sense. I'm 40. I've never been a smoker, have a history of being an athlete but a bad family history on my dad's side of the family is what trumped when it came to my health. Lousy genes, basically, won out over weight room circuits and bench presses.

So, I have to decide where I go from here. I choose to deal with it as both a reality and as a new challenge to get past. God has a reason for things like this. I don't know what it is but He left me here to accomplish something still.

I'm amazed at how quickly I get winded and how physically weak I am, so there's a great deal of physical rehab to do. The doctor says I should, eventually, make a full recovery if I'm smart about my next several months.

I've also, because of this heart attack, been reminded of just how blessed I am. I see other parts of my life clearer.

My church family is checking on me each day and has provided meals and other help that's been, literally, a Godsend. If you aren't involved in a church that cares for people like mine, then send someone over to visit with us. We'll show you how it's done. Southland's people are eager to serve others.

Both of my jobs are giving me the time off needed to recover. My parents and brother stepped up to run errands and drive me around when needed. From grocery shopping to just getting things from the kitchen when I was too sore to get them myself for a few days, I've been very fortunate to have this much help. That is lucky.

Sometimes, God uses what we think are bad situations to enact His greater plan. It's easy to forget that and it's easy to wallow in self-pity. Easy, but wrong. Giving God the glory in ALL things is what we often say we want to do...when times are good. Keeping that same outlook when times are rough is harder, but still what we should want to do.

I don't know why I had a heart attack at a young age. I don't know why my personal goals are being delayed (or maybe derailed) by this. It might be to bring about a change in me. It might be so God can impact someone else through my situation.

I don't know and God doesn't owe me an explanation.

For now, I'll focus on 1) getting healthy, 2) getting back to work and 3) keeping my mind and heart open to any direction regarding how my ordeal should be used for God's glory.

Oh, and I'm not sending that Insanity workout box back just yet...

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