It’s not often that we are given a second chance to do life better. But that’s exactly what Michael and I received on February 24th of this year. That was the day that he had a completely unexpected quadruple heart bypass.
I have always felt that the two of us were doing life right the first time. We lived each day with laughter and love for each other. We extended ourselves to be as charitable as we could be to strangers and friends alike. We were living our lives as God directed in almost every way. I think it’s that word “almost” that had us rethinking things when, on March 20th, Michael was diagnosed during a routine angiogram as needing open-heart surgery. There’s nothing like the prospect of having your heart stopped for two hours while a surgeon replaces arteries and reroutes the blood-flow in your chest to make you think about your life. As a couple, this re-evaluation included both of us. Suddenly, the almost perfect life we thought we had didn’t seem so perfect.
I don’t mean to say that we weren’t really happy…we were. We have great friends, wonderful kids and grand-kids, a beautiful home, jobs we love, and an optimistic future. But there were aspects of our lives that we realized we could (and should) do better. Basically, we need to fine tune the details. Here’s a few of the things we will be improving:
– Spending more time with the ones we love
– Doing the things on our “bucket list” now
– Be more active and proactive in our charitable works
– Pray more.
– Celebrate God in EVERYTHING
– Create and maintain financial independence
– Be more intentional with our laughter and enjoyment with each other
– Choose to retire near life-long friends with whom we share common likes and dislikes
– Speak up more to right wrongs
– Read the Bible daily
– Exercise and eat right
– Stop worrying and put our complete faith in God
This is just a brief snapshot of the top items on our refined life list. There are probably two or three dozen more details we could add, but I won’t bore you with them. Suffice it to say that the hours spent in the waiting room and, later, in Michael’s hospital room provided the perfect atmosphere in which to reflect on our futures. I believe we have been given a gift directly from God. Michael’s heart had no damage even though he had four arteries that were completely blocked and which had been for quite a long time. The cardiologist and surgeon both said that, considering Michael’s lifestyle of pushing himself physically as hard as he could each and every day, he should have had a massive heart attack. Instead, he had jaw pain while chopping wood. God decided that it was not Michael’s time to go home. I believe that He also knew that I could not survive without him. For these reasons, we are more committed now than ever to do things right.
Oh, during this protracted process, we learned that EKGs and stress-tests are about 70% accurate. Not a very good rate for such critical tests. Therefore, we are advocating that everyone over 40 with the least little twinge of doubt about how their heart is doing find a cardiologist willing to do an angiogram. Yes, it is an invasive procedure but it only takes a couple of hours (including prep time) and it can give your doctors a great baseline for future heart related issues. Better safe than sorry.
God bless y’all. We love you and hope to spend many dozens of more years in your company. And, just as a side-note, the next book I’ll be writing is going to be Surgery is Scary. Michael will be the star of this book, for sure!