Just when you least expect it — everything will change.
As the years start adding up, life becomes better and more challenging. You have to take the good with the bad. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.
Recently, I experienced a number of aches and pains. It’s not really abnormal to start feeling your age when you’re 57. It seems every day something new starts hurting just to remind me that body part is there.
I’ve given up on the idea of playing softball, snow skiing or riding a motorcycle. I know I just can’t do those things anymore.
But lately the new pains are really a bother. My chest and upper torso are tight. I’ll be honest, I’ve been having chest pains. No big deal. I’ve had chest pains for years and when I checked them out they were always nothing.
Doctors just looked at me with that “come back when you have a serious problem” look.
This time it was different.
I went to my trusty nurse practitioner Laura for my regular monthly checkup as I’ve been having a serious set of other issues.
I’d told her that I’d been having these pains and she’s always trying to get me to take an EKG. In the past I’d turned her down because I just didn’t want to go to that extra expense but this month she gave me that look — you know the one. Laura was serious and I gave in to her.
The medical technician came in and hooked me up to a series of stick-on pads and wires running everywhere.
She was a nice lady and we chatted though it didn’t take very long.
Laura came back in and I could tell she was really concerned.
She told me that apparently there had been some sort of cardiac event recently and my heart didn’t get enough oxygen at some point.
Yes, basically I had a cardiac issue.
At first I didn’t really grasp what I was dealing with. Laura sent me to a cardiologist, prescribed 100 nitroglycerin pills, told me to relax and take it easy, take aspirin daily and call 911 if my chest pain didn’t go away after two nitro pills properly timed apart.
As I wait for my upcoming appointment with the cardiologist, I continue to have issues.
Yes, I’m having chest pains and I have the energy level of a dishrag. I don’t want to make excuses and I don’t want to slow down. The nitro pills ease the pain but make me very tired after taking them.
I really don’t want to give in to this new problem.
Sometimes, I can do nothing more than crawl into a small ball and lie down. Sometimes I forget I even have a problem and just do too much.
I am frightened by the idea that I could have another heart attack. I know the first one was so mild I didn’t even know it was happening, but I’m not sure the next one will be that mild.
Thankfully my job is primarily sitting at a keyboard typing. I can still do that.
Still, I love my life right now. I am in a great place with a lovely partner, Catherine. She is great and unlike anyone I have ever met. I love her dearly, even when she gives me that look that I’m being too active again.
When she calls me “old man,” I truly giggle inside. She is a shining light and my lucky charm.
I realize that my physical body is changing.
I realize that I’m probably looking at heart surgery.
I realize that I could die at any minute.
I accept that and put my fate into the hands of talented doctors, nurses, medical professionals and the higher power I know as God. Hopefully, they can get me onto the road of recovery so I can spend many more years with Catherine.
I am blessed to have her to go though this beside me. Thank you, Dear.
As the famous meme on Facebook says, “Don’t worry, you’ll still do cool things when you get older, you’ll just do them slower.”
I’m not asking for pity or even sympathy. I just hope you understand when I’m grouchy, sad or quiet.
I don’t feel well and I’m angry that I don’t feel better — that’s all.
Justice reporter Jim Headley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.