No. Literally. And I’m using the word “literally” correctly here.
I was just sitting there when out of nowhere I had a sharp pain in the right side of my chest (weird, right?). That pain started radiating out my back, down the backs of my arms and legs, and over the back of my skull. Breathing became a little difficult. This wasn’t just heartburn – trust me – I know heartburn because I get it after every trip I make to Taco Bell for their delicious Grilled Stuffed Beef Burrito XXL Extreme. Wait… causality? Hmmm…
I drove over to the ER at Dublin Methodist Hospital – an OhioHealth facility (yes, I know… I’ve already been chewed out for the decision to drive versus calling 911 but I’m approaching the limit on my cell phone minutes for this month and I didn’t want to go over by making another call). Before I knew it, a wheelchair was under my butt speeding me back to a room. Incidentally, I decided to use my client’s services for this – OhioHealth is a major client of mine where I teach and coach many of their executives. It was only natural to choose an OhioHealth facility for this “event.”
They poked, prodded, and measured. One of the nurses asked “Hey, aren’t you (OhioHealth senior executive’s) coach?” “Yep. That’s me.” “Wow.” Awkward.
After a bit, the doc told me “You have a blockage. You’re going to be fine but we’re sending you to Riverside Methodist Hospital (another OhioHealth facility) and you’re going straight to the cardiac cath lab. You’re probably getting a stent or two.”
This was one of the handful of freak-out moments I’ve ever had. The doc quickly reassured me “You’re going to be fine. You’re in the best hands possible at Riverside and your prognosis is great. Don’t worry.” I could see in his eyes that he meant it. I immediately settled down as evidenced by the selfie accompanying this post which was taken about 5 minutes after that conversation with him. You can’t take a selfie like that if you’re freaking out. By the way – I’m not as fat as I look in the selfie. It’s the angle of the pic causing the Jabba the Hutt chin. Like they say – the gurney adds 10 pounds…
Zoom! Whoosh! Ambulance ride! Lights and sirens and everything. I’d like to thank Ford (another client) for building a great ambulance that got me to Riverside safely, quickly, and smoothly.
I was immediately taken into the cardiac cath lab. The nurses and the doctor were amazing. They explained everything that was going on or about to go on, they were efficient, kind, compassionate, and competent (I’ve said before I have awesome clients and the team at OhioHealth demonstrated that in spades). After making a tiny 1/2” incision in my wrist, the doc snaked a cath all the way to my heart and placed two stents to open up an artery that was 95% blocked.
I’d like to now thank my biggest client, Abbott Labs and Abbott Vascular for making the stents that saved my life. I guess you could say I’m taking this whole “be loyal to using your client’s products and services” thing a little too far…
“You’re done. All clear and all good.”
I was promptly taken to recovery where two more clients took care of me – CardinalHealth/CareFusion who makes many of the pumps and devices used during my recovery care and Heinz who makes the delicious Caesar dressing that was on my chicken Caesar salad that was my dinner that night.
I had the good fortune of being well taken care of by many very close friends and family members during and after the “event” and I can’t thank everyone enough for that outpouring of support. I also had many clients from OhioHealth stop by to check on me. I always say “I don’t have customers – I have clients because clients are about a relationship.” Over the years, I’ve always viewed that relationship as one where I served my client’s needs and did everything I could to take care of them. The team at OhioHealth demonstrated that that relationship works in the other direction as well. I’m truly fortunate and blessed to serve such a compassionate and noble organization.
About 24 hours after my incident started, I was released from the hospital with some prescriptions and a great prognosis. I have to make some pretty big lifestyle changes but they’re all manageable (and good for me). I consider myself extremely lucky in all of this. Besides, wheat bread doesn’t suck as bad as I thought it did.
Honestly, the most painful part of the entire ordeal was removing the sticky EKG leads from my verdant field of chest hair after the fact. It was like that scene in 40 Year Old Virgin. OW!
“Okay Mike… nice blog post but where’s the lesson you always leave us with? I’m not here just to read about your little episode…”
Balance. That’s the lesson.
I’m great at giving advice. That’s what I get paid to do. I suck at taking it (and I’ve previously written about how hard it is to take your own medicine and why it’s important to do so). I have an extremely thick skull. That trait suits me well in many ways but it almost cost me my life.
I have done a terrible job of taking care of myself. My diet has been abysmal and my exercise routine consists of chasing my Jack Russell terrier around yelling at him for peeing on things. What makes it worse is I’m self-aware about these deficiencies in my behavior. I wish you guys could have seen the nutritionist’s and cardiac nurse counselor’s faces during our “aftercare” conversations.
“So Mike… do you know what you need to do?”
“Yep. Decrease sodium. Reduce fats (especially saturated ones). Increase exercise – at least 20 minutes of aerobic per day. No real resistance exercise required because this is a cardio issue. Take my statins and other meds.”
(Insert look of incredulity on their faces here). “Um… yeah… So you kinda already know all this stuff. How do you know all that?”
“Well, I’m a certified Master Fitness Trainer from my days in the Army and I also know about cholesterol issues from others who have faced these challenges. I just haven’t done it.”
Balance requires not just taking care of your job and those around you. You first have to take care of yourself because if you don’t, there’s no way to take care of anyone else – especially if you’re dead.
So I encourage all of you to take a step back and reflect upon how balanced you are. What’s your diet like? Exercise? Stress? When is the last time you saw your doctor and got a checkup? Still smoking (quit!)? If you’re out of balance, you can’t effectively lead your organizations and take care of everyone else in your life. Invest in yourself first. Get back in balance. Now… before it’s too late.