On an early Saturday afternoon in March of 1985, I was almost 11 years old, and my dad, Rick, was almost 38. I had just gotten home with my mom, Erin, from a basketball game at our local Boys Club. The game was part of a tournament that my team was playing in, and Mom had taken me home along with a friend of mine to grab a bite and rest for a bit. Since my Dad was one of my coaches, he decided he would stay at the Club and watch some of the other games before he joined us later…but later never happened. A fateful event nearly took his life that day…a day that I will certainly never forget.
As my mom tried to unlock the front door to our house, I stood there waiting with my friend and we were ready to head inside and play some video games. We could hear the telephone ringing inside the house as mom let us in the door. We ran in to play as she trotted over to grab the phone. After she answered, my friend and I heard her yelling something frantically from the other room, and I knew immediately that something was wrong. I had never observed what true panic looked like so clearly as I did in that moment. Mom was horrified. She hysterically demanded that we get back in the car to head back in town. My dad had suffered a MASSIVE HEART ATTACK while walking up the stairs at the Boys Club.
I remember thinking, as my friend and I sat in the back seat, that I didn’t really know what a heart attack was…but I knew that it obviously must NOT have been a good thing. At the moment, honestly I was more worried about my own life as I had NEVER before witnessed my mom drive the car so dang fast! I truly believe we were catching air over those hills out on Sunny Acres drive! I saw my mom in a state of emotional desperation that I had never seen before.
Fast forward 36 years and I am so happy to say that I just spent a couple hours at a high school basketball game last night, with my Dad, sitting by my side. We were there to watch our local boys play, and to watch my daughter cheer them on! Basketball has always been a huge part of his life as he played the game through high school as an Oolitic Bearcat, coached middle school ball for years, then moved up to coaching girls high school basketball at Bedford North Lawrence. He was an assistant coach when the girls won the State title in 1991.
We discussed things other than basketball including that fateful day in the spring of ’85. We discussed possibilities of what could have led to such a horrific circumstance for him at such an early age. Was it purely genetics? Did his environment as a child contribute? Or was it from his diet? We decided that we will never know for sure but are certainly glad that he is still with us!
Over the decades since he was a child, Modern Medicine has indeed learned quite a bit about basic general health. Primarily, smoking cigarettes apparently is NOT good for you (as might not have been realized by his dad who smoked Camel non-filters in the house…a lot!) and making your own French fries at home with LARD a few times a week might also NOT be the healthiest option on the ‘meals at home’ menu. I should say that my Dad was NEVER A SMOKER, but did I mention he taught Health as his profession to middle school kids??? Regardless, after his heart attack, he became quite a bit more aware of the effects of what we put in our bodies and how it affects our long term health.
My Mom, probably even more than my Dad, became very concerned for MY well being, and wanted to make sure that I would be more proactive at monitoring my own heart health. I am thankful for their encouragement for me to seek methods to lead a healthy life over these last thirty or so years. Thankfully, in high school I started weightlifting and getting in shape for football, and that background has stuck with me through college, dental school and the last 20 years since I’ve become an endodontist. I DO receive regular routine check-ups which keeps me on track and Glory to God I’ve avoided the heart trouble that nearly took my Dad. I’ll admit I have not been perfect! Life happens, kids come along, desserts are provided, cheat meals are enjoyed, wine bottles are opened, tailgate parties commence, cheeseburgers and french fries are still consumed on occasion, my son still cooks up a mean homemade Pizza, etc. But through it all, the background of health and fitness, I believe, has helped to stave off major medical problems.
FOCUS IN MY LATTER FORTIES
The last three or four years have been, to say the least, a bit eye opening for me. Call it a “mid-life crises” I guess? I started to question, have I been my best? Am I good enough to my wife? Am I good enough to my kids? Am I a good enough son? Am I being the best ENDODONTIST that I can be? Am I good enough to myself? Am I treating my body in ways to promote longevity and overall health? These kinds of questions are tough to answer truthfully, and most often are simply ignored. But…I chose to dig deep.
Before departing on a commercial airline flight, the flight attendant always instructs, “In the case of decreased cabin pressure, place your oxygen mask on yourself first, then help those around you”. I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot lately. Especially since this is “HEART MONTH!" I realized that, in order for me to be the best HUSBAND, the best DAD, the best SON, and the best ENDODONTIST that I can be, I need to first become the best ME that I can be. I decided that, in order for me to be the best SERVANT to others, I must first help myself.
Thus, a main point of focus for me has been becoming aware of my DAILY HABITS that either push me in the direction of better health or further away from that goal. There are sooo many little things that we can all do to make our lives EASIER in the long run and more rewarding as the years roll by! LITTLE THINGS!!! Easy tasks as simple as making your bed each morning, eating good food, getting daily exercise, waking early in the morning, going to bed at a decent hour at night, and of course, MY FAVORITE…BRUSHING AND FLOSSING your teeth!!! Over my next few blog posts, I will share some simple changes that I have implemented over the course of the last few months/years that have changed my life…and I have PROOF!!! I can’t wait to share!!!
Until then, LOVE YOURSELF and LOVE YOUR LIFE…IT’S THE ONLY ONE YOU’VE GOT!!!