There are several reasons that I am writing these blog posts called Lessons from a Heart Attack. First, for some personal accountability. It has been six months since my attack and I need to continuously be reminded to stay on track, both physically and spiritually. We have seen how easy it is to slip with good intentions. By posting these lessons online, I am in a small way allowing myself to be seen by all and become accountable in a more public way. The second reason I am posting is a hope that you, the reader might glean something from my ramblings. I hope that these posts might be a catalyst for you to do more of an in-depth study in areas that are of interest or that may be convicting.
So let continue on…
Several hours after my heart attack and having settled into my hospital room, I still didn’t grasp the severity of what happened. For some reason I wasn’t overly concerned and I began telling people I was ready to return to work the next day. Of course that didn’t happen. I don’t know if it was adrenaline or denial or both but in my mind I truly felt as if nothing serious had really happened to me. Of course while I didn’t think it was much to get overly concerned about apparently someone wasn’t as nonchalant about the whole situation and being a typical guy, I didn’t pick up on the “hints” from that somebody. My better, smarter and much wiser half was getting a “little” annoyed to say the least about my “no big deal” attitude. She recognized the seriousness of what had and could have happened and I didn’t. (Note to self: Check to see if there is an online course on how to recognize hints from your wife.)
To be honest I don’t remember exactly when but at some point during those first few days following my attack our doctor told us that 50% of the people who have my kind of heart attack don’t make it to the hospital. This comment actually took several weeks to sink in before I realized that every second person who had the kind of heart attack that I had… DIED.
Here are some stats according to buzzle.com :
Approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack in the United States every year, from which as many as 500,000 die.
Out of these 500,000 deaths recorded in the United States every year, 250,000 deaths occur on the way to the hospital.
In case of heart attack, 50 percent of deaths occur within an hour of the attack before they could get proper medical help.
According to a World Health Organization study, almost half the cases of heart attacks in the world are attributed to high blood pressure.
Heart attack is one of the most common health issue(sic) in the United States, with at least one case of the same for every 20 seconds and one fatality every minute.
Sudden death from a heart attack is more common in women than it is in men. According to the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction, women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to succumb to a heart attack as opposed to their male counterparts.
In 2010, heart attacks are estimated to cost the United States a whopping $316.4 billion in order to provide health care services, medications and, not to forget, lost productivity. (In the first month from my heart attack, mine cost $77,000) With so many complications to its credit, heart attack is undoubtedly one of the most serious ailment in the world. And hence, it is better off to resort to the practice of healthy living and keep such health issues at bay.
Lesson #5 from a Heart Attack: Don’t forget the brevity of this life.
My life could have easily been over at the age of 46 leaving a beautiful and loving wife and 5 wonderful kids alone without a Husband or Dad. The reality of this thought brings serenity to the moment.
We are reminded by the Psalmist that this life is short. In Psalm 90:10 we read, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
And yet 70 years is not promised to us. Recently, on two occasions I was once again reminded of the brevity of this life. One day while at lunch, during the course of my developing this post I received notice that the son of a co-worker was severely injured in a vehicle accident. He was 20 years old and fighting for his life. A week past and this young man’s earthly struggle ended. One moment he was carefree and living his life to the fullest, now he is gone. Then again almost two weeks ago, I received an email telling me that a 21 year old young man who our family has known for 15 years died after a short battle with cancer. We all no doubt have similar examples of the brevity of this life. A young mother dies of cancer with a loving husband and 3 or 4 children grieving their loss. A soldier, mortally wounded in Afghanistan, or maybe a father in the “prime if his life” dies of a heart attack. We all have sobering examples. Death comes so often when we least expect it.
As we continue to look to the Scriptures we read more about the brevity of our lives.
Job 7:1 Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?
Psalm 39:4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
Psalm 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
Proverbs 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Luke 12:13-21 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
James 4:14-15 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.
I Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
At a Liberty University graduation event in 1997, Billy Graham told the students, “The greatest surprise in life to me is the brevity of life.” Here is a man who lived a full and biblically successful life for God, at this writing he is 93 years old. He is someone we would say has lived a long and full life, yet he acknowledges life’s brevity compared to eternity.
Many years ago I had the occasional pleasure of ministering with an old time evangelist by the name of B.M. Page. He had printed up and handed out bumper stickers that said, “Cheer up, you’ll soon be dead.” While an odd phrase, this saying brought many to contemplate their future and the brevity of this life. He too lived to be in his 90’s I believe, and he would admit as well that the brevity of life was real. Most of us will not live as long as these two godly men yet their lives were considered brief compared to eternity. How much shorter will most of ours be?
Come back soon, to continue on with the second part of a three part post discussing Lesson #5.