This article will be a major deviation from anything else on my blog. On Thursday, December 8, 2011 (yes, I do publish ahead), my heart was stopped during major, emergency open- heart surgery, occasioned by a torn aorta (technically called a “dissected aorta”), most likely the result of very heavy duty weightlifting, my favorite sport and hobby, or at least formerly so. My body was taken down to about 35 to 40 degrees; all my blood was removed and stored separately while a cold saline solution was circulated through my system to keep it at that near-freezing temperature. During those several hours, all brain activity had ceased as the surgeons worked on my heart. I was, quite literally, dead, for a time. Rushed to the Hospital and facing imminent death, I had no alternative but to undergo to this procedure. The scariest part of the whole deal was that there was about a 10% chance that I would be unable to be revived. In other words, I would simply remain dead. While the odds for my survival were, statistically speaking, favorable, I was wheeled into pre-op knowing that I might never again see anyone whom I loved. I might never see my 14-year old daughter again. I might never see my wife again, either. 10% seems like a pretty high number when it applies to your life.
I was terrified.
I cried, and I begged God to let me come back. This article will not be a religious piece in any way, beyond my observing that I am convinced that my faith in God is, was, and will be important in my recovery. Others in my situation may have a very different belief system, or even no belief system to speak of, and our post surgical experiences would nevertheless be the same. This is not about how or why I came back, but rather about what to do with what can only be described as a true “second chance.”
In all likelihood, this is not the article the reader came here for. Please read this one, anyway. The License Restoration and DUI stuff can be found in the “Topics” Section on the right. It’s not going anywhere.
Imagine, for a moment, those people whose death would affect the most profound loss in your life.
Next, imagine that you were called and told by a distant hospital to expect the death of one of them imminently. Too soon, in fact, for you get anywhere close enough to see them and say goodbye. You are, instead, informed that you will be called shortly, once they have passed. You are told to stand by the phone.
In due course your phone rings, and you pick up to hear the dreaded news…
To your surprise, the caller announces an unexpected miracle; your loved one has survived, despite the apparent surety of their death, and should recover.
What would that make you think about second chances? Would you just shrug it off as good luck, and fall back into the routine of life, or would you reevaluate how much you loved that person and how you were going to appreciate every minute you could thereafter have with them?
I’ve been a rather busy man the last several years, and I hope to return to that state of affairs soon enough. I have been so caught up in work, and the general business of life, that I’ve taken too little time to stop, and smell the flowers, so to speak. More accurately, I think, would be that I’ve taken far too little time to appreciate what matters most; my family. Of all the things that raced through my head, as I was about to be put under for what might be the ultimate, big sleep, NOT being able to fulfill my role as a dad and a husband, and leaving my family without my contribution, was the most frightening of them all. Sure, I have a pretty good life insurance package, but how could mere money play the role of “dad” and stand up as a disciplinarian, meaning the guy who says “no,” and “I don’t care what anybody else does,” when such things were called for? How could money look at and figure out how to diagnose and fix a “guy” or “husband” problem in the house, like a leaky faucet, or replace an electrical switch?
This is not about a lifestyle change, but rather an attitude adjustment.
In my case, I really have been given a second chance. I intend to use every bit of it to enjoy thing that matters most to me; my family. It’s not that my schedule is ultimately going to change much, if at all. It’s that I am going to be grateful everyday for the time to see and hear and touch them. This makes any little squabbles that we might have had in he past seem insignificant. And they now seem insignificant because they are, in fact, insignificant. What were the arguments that, at times, kept my wife and I apart, or at least kindled a simmering resentment that kept us from feeling that same passionate love we had before we were married? And even if it was not resentment, then certainly at least the unsurpassed ability to take the other person for granted.
Honestly, right now, I can’t name them. They seem insignificant because they are insignificant. They always were. It’s just that my perspective has changed. I got an attitude adjustment.
Now, those things my kid does that used to annoy me are part of the beautiful noise of life.
I’m glad to be here. Heck, all things considered, I’m glad to be anywhere…
Meanwhile, how does someone like me begin to thank all those whose love and support have meant so much? I simply cannot. Family, friends, Clients…I’ve even had calls from people who I am surprised could put my name to my face.
The sheer size of this blog proves that I am never at a loss for words. Here, however, words fail me. They fall pitifully short of being able to convey the depth of gratitude that I feel.
Thank you all, so very much.
My greatest hope, however, is that the reader will heed the real message of this article; everyday is another chance. You don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through to learn that. Go home and tell your children, parents, partner, siblings and/or spouse that you love them, and that you’re glad they are part of your life.