10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me -- #7 You are not indispensible to your job

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me -- #7 You are not indispensible to your job
#7 You are NOT indispensible to your job but you are to your family -- prioritize well.

There is a meme out there that states "Your job will be posted faster than your obituary" and while it gets a laugh, I wonder how many people ACTUALLY realize this is true?

Systems, organizations, cultures -- all the big picture forms -- are created to NOT collapse upon the loss of one person. They simply cannot be created that way.....but we are raised to think that to make ourselves indispensable is the responsibility of good employees. 

There is even more pressure if you strive to be a "good" leader. 

But our efforts to make people reliant upon us, to make us the holder of unique and vast knowledge, to become indispensible, leads us to a more and more unhealthy relationship to work. 

And while our team mates, our own leaders, and organizational leadership may thank and appreciate our efforts (or maybe not but that is the topic of a different post lol), the organization, the system is neutral to our efforts. 

No amount of extra hours we put in will cause an organization to hesitate to replace us if we suddenly cannot be there. 

Read that again. 

We have created this fantasy as a way to monitor and evaluate our performance -- which may also be reflected in our formal performance reviews -- but this has absolutely no bearing on your replaceability. 

So what do you do with this information? 

You recognize it for the truth that it is and you begin to divest yourself from the belief that the more you work the more important you will be to the organization.

You realize that all the extra hours and efforts, the sacrifices and losses, the missing out times, are NOT worth the result. 

Your disconnection from the one place where you ARE indispensable == your life == is TOO high a price to pay to an entity incapable of reciprocating. 

So, begin to disengage from the volume of extras you do. Yes, continue to do an excellent job at your job, but without the sacrifice of time, energy and health. 

Step back from overachieving

Step back from relentless hours

Step back from trying to be the Golden Child.

You will start to see how being great in your life outside of work will suddenly translate into a better, fresher, more creative you at work. 

Best of all, you will find that your life, your family, your friends, your hobbies, your pets, will all suddenly spring back into a fresh relevance and you will begin to experience joy again. 

The shear joy of being not of doing. 

Time to listen to your heart.

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #6 No Amount of Gratitude is Enough

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me  - #6 No Amount of Gratitude is Enough

When you struggled into the Emergency Room, no matter what was going on, someone took the time to ask you what was going on. If your issue was not life threatening, you likely had to wait. 

But if those first few questions and tests showed you were in imminent danger, then a time warp opened and people moved faster than the speed of light. 

Before you knew it, you were on a stretcher in a trauma bay, staring up at a light bigger than your bed. You had one doctor talking to you about what was happening, what they were thinking, about options for treating you. There were a lot of people moving around you but it was hard to focus on more than the one talking to you.

You suddenly have your top off, stickers stuck all over you and lines hooked up to machines you couldn't see. But you could hear the docs (by now there are more of them) talking about the squiggly lines coming out of you. When you ask a question, they stop and try to answer it, even if it is with a non-answer (we are waiting, we don't know yet).

You try to lighten the mood by mumbling a joke but everyone is focused elsewhere. People come and go from the room, poking, prodding, sitting you up, laying you down, getting more and more information from your body. 

They work around you in sync with each other, handing over items just as they are being asked for, calling in new people, ushering others out. 

By now so many have come and gone that even your feeble attempt to recognize them has stopped (you have after all worked with them for nearly 10 years)....

The doctor talks you through a drug infusion while another assures you they know exactly what is happening to your heart....and nearly 5 minutes later you wake up but don't realize you were unconscious....what you don't know is that for 4 minutes one of the doctors (luckily the smallest one) has been on top of you doing CPR while the others manage all your other issues....the drug infusion is known to cause full arrest and you have one. You didn't feel anything. 

Once you are back, you  notice the room is much more crowded, and people are all busy doing things you can't seem to wrap your head around. They sit you up and do an xray to see if CPR caused any broken ribs...luckily not. 

You projectile vomit across the room...it feels like slow motion and you luckily miss everyone in the room except yourself. 

Someone is talking in your ear explaining things...and your main doctor asks you what day it is...you smart mouth back "your birthday" cause you remember them talking about it and think you are terribly funny.

Things slow down as they get you ready to fly you out to a tertiary site. You try your best to remember all who came through your room but there were so many....they were all so efficient half the time you didn't even realize they were doing something to your body. The only emotion you feel is gratitude.

How do you even begin to thank these people. They held you up and kept you from dying. They focused on you despite anything else that had happened to them that day, or things going on at home, or in the world. For those hours, you were the only thing they thought about and that is why you lived. 

The best thank you is to live a long life and remind others that these extraordinary people do this every day of their careers. Thank them by honouring them. Thank them because when you need them most they put everything else down and help you. 

They are the best human beings. Love them with all your heart and know that it will never be enough compared to the gift they gave you.

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #5 Healing takes as long mentally as physically

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #5 Healing takes as long mentally as physically
Healing takes as long mentally as physically and maybe longer. Take your time. 

There is pressure, when you have had a life altering health crisis, to try to heal as quickly as possible so life can "get back to normal" . You will likely strive for that goal as much as external forces will suggest that is the best route to go.

But I am here to tell you that normal will no longer exist for you. You will question everything in your world -- every situation, every belief, every choice you have ever made. 

The world will feel full of quick sand -- traps seeking to swallow you up, clogging down your steps forward and you may find yourself struggling to make even the simplest of decisions. 

You may question why your body abandoned you......why it betrayed you by getting sick. 

But the harshest of realizations is that you abandoned your body a long time ago. Every indecision and status quo situation lead you to this moment.

You will sit in your disbelief, your grief and your anger for a while ....and there will be more pressure (from inside you and from outside of you) to get back to normal.....but emotionally you won't be ready.

Your body, amazing creation that it is, will remarkably heal -- often without a lot of effort by you -- sleep is your friend. But your emotions will stay rattled, volatile and petulant for a lot longer than your body stays broken. Fractured emotions are the angry child demanding attention -- and I am here to say that you need to give them the attention they tantrum for.

There won't be any "back to normal" but there can be "new and improved" if you heal your emotions alongside of your body. 

Grieving is an amazing process, full of surprising shifts, sudden dam breaks, and a long time quietness that people will question. Don't rush it.   The healing is worth the time and effort. 

Take whatever time you need.

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #4 Sometimes Shit Happens

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #4 Sometimes Shit Happens
#4--Sometimes shit happens for no good reason.  Sometimes it is to teach you a lesson you are resistant to learning.

 It really was hard to accept the second heart attack. After all, I had done ALL THE THINGS -- modern pharmaceutical, western medicine. Holistic medicine. Accupuncture. Weight Loss. Exercise. Stress reduction. I was the model patient regardless of modality.

The ONE question I demanded from my Cardiologist was "WHY"? How could I work to never have this happen again if I didn't understand why this happened. She looked over my labs from days before the attack, and my labs at that moment. She looked at me and said "Shit house bad luck is all". 

What the HELL was I supposed to do with that. If my second, more severe heart attack was caused by bad luck, how could I ever prepare to not have another? It made me angry. I cried a LOT those first couple of days. Was it really that my life was held in the balance of bad luck? 

Over the course of the months that followed, i realized that this was my lesson to learn. Sometimes there is no reason, and that means there is no physical way to prepare for it. 

There is however a spiritual way to prepare for the idea that something so massive could be so random. 

Coming to peace with life and death. Now that might sound silly or magnificent, esoteric or numbing. But really it is about becoming ok that life, my life, was time limited but there was NO way to know when. 

Interestingly I have been working hard at releasing trying to control outcomes in my physical life and this bad luck forced me to realize that releasing the outcome meant I could NOT control the timing of my passing. So my spiritual practice has focused on still setting goals but using those goals to become the person I would be should those goals come to fruition. Because I cannot control whether they do or not. 

Oh sure, I can work towards the goals but I cannot ensure they happen. I can only strive for them. BUT if I become the person I would be should they materialize then I am, at least, evolving myself. 

I was so angry at that Cardiologist for her vague answer. But it made me realize that there is a limit to what healing any modality can bring. None of them could help me create the mindset I need to get up everyday in spite of possibly being on the cusp of another attack and live my life like it doesn't matter what happens. 

I am about 80%, no maybe 90%, successful in focusing on life...and joke that if Death wants me he will have to come find me. But living with this knowledge does make each sunrise more precious, each visit with friends or family sweeter. It makes sunlight feel warmer and snow feel colder. 

Having the knowledge of the shortness of life does make me grateful for all the time I have. I don't think I have ever been more appreciative of the privileges I have and of the place where I live. 

While it sharpens my senses, it also blunts my reactionary tendencies. Mostly, I am content to observe and take it all in. Action doesn't seem as important -- and maybe, as time goes on, that will change. But for now I am happy to watch the world unfold and revel in the beauty. I choose to avoid the ugliness out there and surround myself with nature. 

Releasing the outcome of life is the goal....because it is inevitable. That is such a big lesson and a work in progress. It doesn't matter if i am successful at it. Only that I try.

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me -- #3 Treating Your Body Well Isn't Expensive

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me -- #3 Treating Your Body Well Isn't Expensive
I often hear, when I talk to someone about wellness practices like good nutrition, supplementation, exercise or meditation oils that those things are too "expensive".

Number three on my list of Ten Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me is If you think treating your body well, giving it the nutrition it needs, the rest it needs, the peace it needs, the time away from work it needs is expensive  — you need to know that none of that is as expensive as a clot buster med and 4 minutes of CPR (and that’s if you are lucky)

My second heart attack was not they quiet retiring type that my first one was - heck I didn't even believe the doctors the first time and asked them to make sure the lab hadn't made a mistake and someone else's blood test was showing a Troponin of 35000 (it should be zero). 

No, my second one was a huge boxer of a heart attack and once I arrived at the hospital there was absolutely NO question what was going on. Luckily there is a miraculous clot busting drug they give you to get rid of the blockage that is making your heart die. This medication has a 50% chance of putting you into full cardiac arrest -- and because everyone knows this, the medical team was waiting and ready for it. 

I woke up 4 minutes later not realizing that I had been having CPR for all that time....but my chest would remind me of that for three months as it healed from the compressions. (and before you ask - No I didn't see a white light, a tunnel, or anyone waiting for me while I was gone).

My point is this. That medication is about $5000 a dose. The cost of the at least 10 people in the trauma bay with me is significantly more than that. The cost to me -- well because I survived it --  was another year of recovery, several months being very difficult mentally as well as physically and the realization I could never/should never return to the work that put me here in the first place. 

Had I died during this time, the cost to my family would have been measured in decades. 

If you think taking time and effort now to focus on your health, doing what ever you can to reduce and mitigate the chronic stress you are under, putting down your work phone and being present for your family, and feeding both your body and mind with the most nutritious things, is too costly, then you really are on a trajectory to disaster. 

Start by being honest with yourself about how much time, both mental and physical, that you actually devote to what is stressing you out? Do you think about it often when you are at home? Do you go to sleep and wake up thinking about what you need to do? How many times does thinking about this issue interrupt a family meal,  an evening out, a weekend of rest and recovery by sabotaging your mood and your attention?

How many times have you said "things will be better once i get this [insert excuse here] done?"

Nothing you do to improve your health and well-being is ever as expensive as giving up on feeling better.

You are worth more than all of it.

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