By all odds, the chances of me writing this are pretty slim. Five years ago, around this time, I had walked into the emergency room of the UCSF Hospital in San Francisco, complaining of a bad heartburn. In reality, it was a heart attack. The numbers were against me. I was one of the almost a-million Americans who suffer some kind of heart attack every year.
Prayers, divine intervention, great medicine or all of those resulted in me walking out of the hospital a few days later, and a month later I was back in the saddle again. I got really lucky that I got a second chance – a chance to not only remake my body, but myself and my life. I got a chance to make some wrongs right.
I stopped smoking (after over 20 years of smoking two packets a day), said sayonara to scotch and red meat, and cut out salt and sugar out of my diet. I have become 80 percent vegetarian — one on five meals has animal protein, and that does mean egg whites. I signed a life team deal with oatmeal and found myself a trainer. I lost about 70 pounds and acquired a somewhat buddhist approach to life and its events.
Not everything worked out as planned. About 30 pounds have come back and I need to figure out a way to lose those. I eat Ramen, which is salty. And when in Paris, a macaroon or two are acceptable with one’s espresso. My fondness for French Toast makes me cheat once in a while, but when it comes to making changes, I would give myself a solid B+.
However, when it comes to work, I have failed to come to terms with my new reality. Despite all the efforts of my teammates and the loved ones, I remain addicted to my work – whether it is writing or learning. It is just because it is not work, it is what I do. My friends tell me that I need to refocus, slow down and do things differently. Perhaps, on this fifth anniversary, I will indeed take their advise — and slow down the tempo a tad. Maybe even take a break from work and go on a real vacation.
If I don’t, then I will be reminded that:
For 325,000 people every year, the crushing chest pain and shortness of breath that often accompany a heart attack are not new sensations. That’s because more than one third of the heart attacks that occur every year (325,000 out of 945,000) happen to people who have already had at least one before.
In fact, previous myocardial infarction, the medical term for heart attack, is one of the biggest risk factors for future myocardial infarction (called ‘MI’ for short). Among patients who survive their first MI, 21% of men and 33% of women will experience another one within six years. The odds that any person 35 or older will have a recurrent MI in a year are 1 in 492.6
(via Book of Odds )
Heart disease is a growing problem and 1 in 5 people over the age of 40 suffer from some kind of heart related issues. I call upon you to think about that and contribute to the efforts of UCSF, one of the finest cardiology establishments in the country.
Make the check to: UCSF Foundation. (In the notes area of the check, write ‘OM/Cardiovascular Research Initiative.’)
Mail the check to: UCSF Foundation, UCSF Box 0248, San Francisco, CA 94143-0248. ATTN: Kevin McAteer, Director of Development
If you have time, please take a moment and learn more about heart and vascular diseases, how to prevent them, and how to figure out if you have a problem. Visit the UCSF web site.