I never thought I was in the running for a heart attack. 48 years old, in pretty good shape, didn’t drink or smoke and diet wise…apart from a slightly sweet tooth, I’ve always been pretty good. So after a short gym session when I started feeling a bit tight in the chest and a little nauseous I assumed that I’d probably just over done it.
But there was this little voice in my head that was saying; “Maybe you should go see the Doctor”. (If I can give you one piece of advice – NEVER ignore that little voice.) As I drove myself to our family doctor, the chest pains had subsided but the nausea was still there. On first inspection it appeared nothing too serious was going on, but we’d have to see what the ECG had to say, (Electrocardiography – this records the electrical activity of the heart).
Well let’s just say that the ECG saw things a LOT differently. I was told to call my lovely wife whilst they called the Ambulance. Once I was in the ambulance I had my first ‘Is this how it ends?’ moment. This couldn’t be happening to me. I hadn’t seen my kids grow up. All of them with such a bright future and I just wanted to be a part of that future. I was rushed into the Emergency Department. I’m no body language expert but it was very obvious there was much to be concerned about. We headed straight up to the Cath Lab where it was discovered a major artery was completely blocked and a stent was immediately inserted into my artery, up my arm and into my heart – an incredible procedure performed by a small group of absolute miracle workers.
Here’s the thing. When I was lying on that bed, having my second ‘Is this how it ends?’ moment. It’s amazing what I DIDN’T think about. Not work. Not money. Not material things. Nothing on my ever expanding To-Do list. As they worked on me they said “Go to your happy place”. And all that was there was my wife Janine and our gorgeous kids Eve, Grace, Faith and Louis. In that moment it became crystal clear what my life is all about; what really is important to me.
A few hours later in my hospital room, one of the cardiologists popped in to see me. He offered me an incredible piece of advice; “You now have permission”, he said, “Permission to do whatever you want to do. To stop doing whatever you want to do. If you want to find God, un-find God, move house, move country, change jobs, change the way you dress, say yes more, say no more. Do it! You now have permission from others and yourself. You’ve had a life changing event. Don’t waste it.”
It’s true, I’ve spent most of my life over committing. Promising things I actually wasn’t sure of. Scared of letting people down. Worried of what people might think. And for what? It’s sad it took a major heart attack for me to see things so clearly and to realise what is truly important.
I am determined now, more than ever to be the best me I can be. I’ve even been saying “No” to a few people…and it feels great. I’m not stuffing them about and I’m staying true to what I’ve been powerfully reminded. Family comes first.
So my advice to you? Look into your family history with regards to heart disease – this is a big one. Go see your doctor and make sure you are aware of any blood pressure or cholesterol concerns. Yes, you need to make an effort with your diet and exercise – look after yourself! Give yourself a chance to be all you want to be. But most of all – don’t spend your life trying to please others.
Enjoy all the little things with those you love.
Laugh more. Stress Less.
JASON GUNN – CONTRIBUTOR