When I was 39, with zero risk factors for heart disease, I had all the classic symptoms associated with a heart attack. My doctors put me on three blood thinners to dissolve a clot in a minor artery seen in an angiogram. The next day, while the original clot had dissolved, I had a clot in a larger artery. Baffled, the cardiologists put in a stent. As they backed the scope out of the artery, it spasmed in another location.
At that time, I had a 4-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 12-year-old. My husband traveled extensively for work. I asked myself two questions: 1) How do I feel about dying at age 39? 2) If I don’t die, how do I live?
I was okay about dying at age 39, except that my husband would have to hire a full-time nanny or have to abandon a job he loved. Once home, my heart was “cranky” from the attacks, and I was told to rest whenever it “complained”. I concluded that I would be in bed the rest of my life if I heeded that advice. Also, I was told “no negative stress.” How does one do that while raising 3 active children, keeping a home, working, and being a wife without some negative stress?
I decided, “If I can die in the next five minutes, I will make those five minutes matter.” I chose to laugh. I chose to be thankful for every moment here. I chose to encourage others. I chose to be useful. I chose to fight for the next five minutes.
Today I am a grandmother of four beautiful grandchildren and I’m in my 60s, even though I had two more heart attacks at age 53. I received my master’s degree in counseling psychology at age 51. I received a certificate in spiritual direction at the age of 57. I have traveled all over the world. I am writing a book about my health adventures. I blog. I mentor. I moderate. I encourage. I make a difference with a lot of “five minutes”.
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