Never Thought It Would HappenSurprise surprise. The day after Christmas last year, we were in Big Sur, CA, to check out the Point Sur Lighthouse, which is on top of a 360-foot cliff, and you have to walk up. The weather was great, the view was fantastic, and the guide was very knowledable and lots of fun. What can go wrong, right? HA!
About three-quarters of the way up, within sight of the top, I started to feel pain in my chest and left arm. A little later, at the next rest stop, I had to sit down. Fast-forward a few minutes, and Donna was driving me to CHOMP---the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula---where they said I'd had an MI and needed two stents.
Two days and countless medical adventures later, I was back home with instructions to go see my doctor, plus a cardiologist, plus an ear/nose/throat doctor for a sleep test, and I had scripts for about six different pills. Fast-forward again to mid-February, and I was on cardiac rehab (a gym) at a medical facility, had endured the sleep test (plugged into about a hundred wires and wearing a mask that looked like the Face Hugger in Alien), and undergone several more tests. Now (mid-July) I use a CPAP device at night. All this for a guy who didn't even like to take aspirin (although I did take a pill for acid reflux).
Looking back, I think that surprise happened due to several factors. One, I started working for myself (I'm a set designer) and became a desk jockey. Two, we thought time didn't allow for our previous hobbies of ballroom dancing, golf, running, and a few other things. Three, priorities appeared to change. Fourth... welll... maybe old age (Donna and I are both mid-60) made us motivation-challenged.
People have been telling me the MI was a life-changing event, a wake-up call, a reality check, and similar stuff. I know they mean well, but, for me, it was an "I hate it when that happens" experience. One, it ruined our weekend. That was bad enough. Two, now I'm hearing that I'm a heart-attack survivor, to which I respond with something a little stronger (okay, a lot stronger) than "pooey."
So here's what I've decided: I'm not going to change my life because of it. If anything, I'm going to go back to the old days, with a vengeance. I've always pretty much done whatever I set my mind to: join the Army, study in England, get a pilot's license, go to grad school, write a book, and similar things. My generation's lives have changed radically as it is, with email and texting, lost passwords, all this security stuff nowadays, (going thru a metal detector at the ball park is downright un-American), the whole Political Correctness movement, and so forth, and I don't want to just fall into the basket of pre-defined, Hollywood-stereotypical "survivors" we are supposed to become.
So I've gone back to my writing (a political thriller and a horror screenplay, both of which are going really well, plus an outline for a book on set design), I'm spending more time on my blog on set design, I'll be speaking at a conference in September, I'll be going back to the gym (which I used to attend regularly), and I'm going to take Donna's lead and get my first tattoo: she got a stylized cat and pawprints a couple of weeks ago, and I'm getting Grumpy on my forearm.
And darn it, if I want to get a greaseburger with a side order of cholesterol now and then, like I used to, I'm going to do so.