Friday, September 25, 2015

Good for Another 1,000 Miles

What a difference a week makes.

A week and a half ago I went to the hospital for what were supposed to be some cardiac tests.  The next day I had two stents implanted into cardiac arteries, learned that I'd head a silent heart attack at some point in the past, and was released for the weekend.

I was supposed to return on Monday for another stent implantation, but two and a half hours after I got home I returned through the ambulance entrance in congestive heart failure...

I thought maybe I was having a heart attack.  I hadn't walked from my recliner to the bathroom before I was struggling to breathe with a walloping pain in my belly.  It wasn't until Tuesday that I got the final stent which turned out to be two, actually, in series because the whole length of the right coronary artery was blocked.

Although I posed for this shot, acting silly after they got me feeling a bit better, it's kind of how I felt at the worst - as if I'd been to the brink of death and brought back just in the nick of time to reevaluate my lifestyle choices and adjust them big time.

By the time they got me out of heart failure and put in the final two stents, I was feeling pretty good, and raring to get out of there.  Considering how I'd only spent two and a half hours at home last week, though, before the ambulance took me back to the hospital, they weren't taking any chances and didn't release me until yesterday.

This picture is just to remind everybody that composition IS important.  What a sweet moment of me snuggling up to my new teddy bear.  After you take in the initial sweetness, though, glance to the left of the photo and see how that toilet just makes the pic extra sweet.

And a quick plug for that hospital food which I enjoyed thoroughly in spite of its traditionally getting a bad rap.  The portions were much smaller than I'd typically eaten in my life, but the appreciation of still being alive made them more satisfying than I thought they could possibly be.

What a difference a day makes! 

Yesterday I was still stuck in that hospital bed, but I knew that today I'd have to take the bike out just to celebrate the hospital ordeal being over, my continued existence, and to enjoy the possibility that today would be the day on which I'd roll the odometer over another 1,000 mile mark.  The second to the topmost windows in the gray tower toward the right were the ones through which I surveyed the neighborhood during my stay when I'd walk to the end of the hallway just to kill some time.

Today's ride was probably the best one I've taken in my life.  My new appreciation for life just made everything positive in a typical ride even better.  The colors, the sounds, the smells, the breeze, the warm sunshine - EVERYTHING felt to me as if I were experiencing it all for the first time.  The simple awareness of things long taken for granted kind of made my head spin, and I crossed the miles with a simple, "WOW!" going through my head the whole time.

God bless the folks who put up autumn decorations!  There were many festive sights out there today and my eyes just soaked in every one of them.

Better even, I hit a new milestone at 18,000 miles!  When I'd set out this morning I knew there was the possibility of doing it, but I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to stay in the saddle after the medical issues.

Best of all, though, I have this whole new appreciation for being alive.  I feel as if I've been reborn in this past week and a half, but this time they gave me a "maintenance manual" so I can keep on doing this thing that I love so much called LIVING!  In spite of my bad knee hurting like hell, I went for a walk during my ride today, and for the first time in years I was able to walk without having to stop to catch my breath over and over again.

I'm not going to get preachy, but I will take this opportunity to encourage you to do what you know you need to do to get or stay healthy.  I'm not an idiot, but there were times when I actually sat down to a cholesterol rich meal and prayed, "Lord, please don't let my first heart attack be fatal."  It appears that that prayer was answered in spades.  And although I'm not an idiot, there were far too many times I acted like one.  Don't be like me in that regard.  Do what you know a cardiologist would tell you to do with your diet and lifestyle before you need the "wake up call" that I just got.


Paul Smith said...

Glad you're up and around again. Looks like you got run through the wringer. Take it easy and run up another thousand miles. :D

Steve Williams said...

Sorry to hear about your medical adventures. Having had a heart attack myself back in May I can appreciate just about everything you've written (save for the pre-cholestrol rich meal prayer).

Like you it was a wake up call that unfortunately isn't listened too until something serious happens.

I've lost 20 pounds, take my medication, eat right and exercise now, all things I wanted to do before the heart attack but now have the motivation to actually do.

Medical science can give us second chances but we have to do the work. Good luck on your next steps and be safe -- at the dinner table and on the road!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Joe said...

Paul, that's exactly how I felt, but what a difference now!

Steve, ever since you'd written about your heart attack I'd had your story in the back of my mind as I went through the cardiac testing that led to the discovery of my own issues. Since then I'd been thinking about my own picture worthy breakfasts and how all of that was going to change after I found out (It was pretty much a given in the back of my mind.) that I had bigger problems than I was hoping to face. I've not really had the time to clear my head yet, but in my current state of mind I'm planning to do whatever I need to do to live as long as I can!