The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain
The Left Anterior Descending Artery (LAD) is known as the Widow Maker. The artery has earned the nickname because heart attacks borne in this artery have a kill rate around 90%. Once the artery is full occluded (blocked), the owner has about 5 minutes before a massive heart attack and what amounts to almost certain death.
When the Doctors went in to give me an angioplasty, they found my Widow Maker artery to be fully occluded. Most likely, it had been that way for the past couple of months. I lay there wondering why I was still breathing.
If I had to pinpoint the time when the reaper missed collecting my soul, I would say just after midnight on 25 December 2012. Ironically, I was passed over by death on the same day I celebrate the birth of the Christ child, the Savior that conquered death and opened eternal life to man, to me.
I was laying in my bed comfortably nestled in the arms of my girlfriend following a scrumptious fish dinner at Bob Chinn’s when I experienced a severe burning in my esophagus, a burning that would not relent as the milder burns had done in days previous. I jumped into the shower so the hot steam would relieve what I believed to be pain triggered by bronchitis/asthma and tabasco laden clam chowder soup. According to the Doctor, it was highly likely I was experiencing a heart attack.
For all practical purposes, I should be with my dad in Heaven fishing for monster pike , or making oak creations to decorate God’s kingdom while we talk and I brag about my children and the amazing adults they have grown into which is, in large part, to the loving guidance I received from him and my mom. Instead, I am musing on my heart, wondering why I was allowed to cheat the Widow Maker, to cheat death, to cheat the cruel bitch to which my grandfather succumbed in his 40s.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. Death does not slink away never to be heard from again. Death played it’s first hand, and lost, but it’s a sure bet that Death will be lurking, seeking any opening to take advantage. My current goal is to ensure the tool Death uses is not the Widow Maker. I must now be ever vigilant, ever cognizant of my life style such that I don’t unknowingly succumb to the Widow Maker to fall for her alluring whispers hidden in bacon and fatty marbled filet mignon and rich pastries and so many of the other foods that I relish.
In short, I must undergo a life style transformation. I had a life practice that vegetables and fruit are what food (ex. Cows) ate so I ate both food groups grudgingly generally as an afterthought. Now, I must make them a central component of my food repertoire.
I asked the Doctor why I was still alive when he talked to me after the procedure being that my artery was 100% occluded stopping blood flow. He said that it was because I have a history of exercise which created blood pathways around the occlusion. The body had created for itself an alternate means of transporting oxygen to my body. It was not nearly as efficient as the LAD but it was enough to prevent a massive heart attack.
Luckily, sport and exercise have been an aspect of life that I enjoyed. A couple of summers ago, I was riding my bicycle regularly and was fit enough to participate in a 100 mile ride. This past summer, I was still refereeing 90 minute soccer games. During the past year, however, I became engrossed in my work so the fitness activities tapered off. As much fun as I have at work, I need to schedule in fitness meetings with myself that get me out of the office and into the gym at least three days a week.
I would have loved to see my dad again. Still, I am not overly saddened by the delay because one day I will see him again and then it will be for eternity. In the mean time, there many people on Earth that I love and am not ready to leave behind.
My dad lived for more than twenty years after his quadruple bypass, twenty years during which he touched the lives of many as evidenced by the seemingly never ending stream of people paying their last respects at his wake.
The question before me now is; How will I honor my fellow man with this extraordinary gift of my remaining days?