I can’t begin to imagine, anyone ever wishing for something like this to happen to them. I mean really, this is not my idea of a real good time and yet, out of what is seemingly one of the darkest moments of my life there have come some incredible blessings.

On May 18th, 2008, at approximately 1:59 pm, I had a heart attack.

A Gift?

When I say what I am about to, you may think I’m a little bit … oh, shall we say odd? In a warped sort of way this was an incredible gift!

A heart attack is a gift? Yes, an absolute, one hundred percent life changing gift at that! Trust me I’m not nuts and I really do know what I’m saying.

I’m human, which basically means I’m not perfect and sometimes it takes me a little bit longer than I would hope to make changes in my life. A lesson in honesty; if you have a coach or a mentor or a speaker who inspires you, if they fully honest with you, they don’t always do everything they suggest to you exactly the way they describe it. We all have times when what we plan to do and what we actually do don’t exactly match up!

My aim here is not to make you think less of any one it’s just to let you know that there are times when even the best of the best are firing on all eight cylinders, so to speak.

For the last couple of years of my life, I had been on a quest to get healthy and take my running to a new level. My first target was a marathon. I made it, it was shaky and the emotional part was incredible, while the physical part left me with a little mind/body separation. By that I mean; my mind now knew it could do this but my body was not being a team player! In fact, once I’d done my second marathon my brain had moved on to ultra marathoning! Emotionally, I was fired up! Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the body was having a little anxiety attack at the brains’ rekindled love of running.

A truce was reached between the two and the collective decision was reached by the mind and the body that it would actually make some sense to start training properly and improve the nutrition that was fueling this whole new zest for life. Oh yeah, I almost forgot; the two parties to this summit also concluded that smoking was not a good thing.

One little problem… we forgot to invite the unconscious mind to the conference and when push came to shove, we didn’t have full buy-in from all parties involved. One year and two more marathons later, we were still not making much progress on the whole weight loss, regular training and good nutrition thing and of course, the smoking continued.

It was starting to get ugly and the unconscious mind was having its way with things! Every solid positive valid reason as to why things should change was met with resistance from the unconscious. It looked like things were at an impasse with neither party willing to budge.


Yep, you guess it! On a beautiful, hot Sunday in Southern California, I decided to go for what would have been about a forty-five mile round trip bike ride to see my brother at his work. I thought; what a great healthy way to spend a Sunday! All seemed to be going well and with about two miles left until I reached my brother I made a stop to grab some water since I had run out and was experiencing what I thought were early signs of dehydration.

I wasn’t maybe two sips into the water when I felt that closed in feeling. You know the feeling you get when you’re about to black out. Thinking I was having heat stroke, I called my brother to see if he could pick me up. My plan was to sit in the air conditioning for maybe a couple of hours, get re-hydrated and then head home. Sounded good at the moment! By the time my brother had loaded my bike into the trunk of his car and returned to the front seat, I was now sitting there holding my chest and saying… “I think I’m having a heart attack!”

This was turning out to be quite the little adventure!

Let’s just say the next two days were not really my most favorite! And, in a weird sort of way they were…

I mean think about it. In a strange way I had just been handed a gift. There is no question that something as traumatizing as having a heart attack will get your attention! Oh, and I forgot to throw in one slight detail earlier to make it even better; I didn’t have insurance!

Here’s what I got from the hospital stay of my dreams:

1. I’m alive!
2. A low fat, low cholesterol, carbohydrate restricted diet
3. More pills than a well stocked pharmacy
4. A cardiologist (No, I don’t actually own one, but I never imagined having one either)
5. Lots of weird sensations that I have to just get used to for as long as I am on those seemingly endless quantities of prescriptions
6. A shiny new Cobalt-Chromium stent in my right coronary artery

But wait there’s more!

1. Who could forget about the $135,000 bill
2. An overwhelming desire to make certain this never ever happens again
3. A renewed love for life and every moment I get to experience of it
4. I’ve never really been shy, but the ability to say pretty much what ever is on my mind to who ever I want (that one may sound a little scary but it’s not)

Now, I may sound like I’m being a little cynical but I’m really not. This really was a gift of immeasurable proportions! What I couldn’t get my self to do in over two years, a heart attack demanded in two days. In the long run (no pun intended) I will actually be a better athlete because of this. What I learned in the hospital is that my hearts’ strength is what saved me, so combine that with a freshly cleaned artery and I’m going to be even stronger.

At the risk of sounding like I’m suggesting this as a method for improving your health, I’m not recommending this! If I hadn’t been where I was at the exact moment I reached out for my brother I might very well not be here today.

And in spite of the fact that I might be making a little bit of light of the situation, it’s not funny. I have an extremely high pain tolerance. I always have. This was by far the most excruciatingly painful experience of my entire life. Nothing else even comes in a close second! Yes, I am finally moving in the right direction, but I could have done this without the heart attack and so can you.

They say that everything we do in life is motivated either by fear of pain or the desire for pleasure and the fear of pain is the stronger motivator. Let me give you a little pain motivation. Imagine the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. Multiply it times 1000 and now stay awake during the entire ordeal in the operating room. That creeped me out even aside from the pain. Being totally aware of what they were doing to me… yeow!
Imagine your friends, family, loved ones who will never get to hear your voice again or see your smiling face except for in a picture. What a shame that would be.

Yes, in a weird way this was a gift to me. An incredible opportunity to do what I had put off until now!

Whatever it is you want to do or accomplish or have, don’t wait for a “gift” like mine to come along. Go after it now! Get excited, get resourceful and get moving and then… you will be making your own gifts to yourself and the world and they will be beautiful!

Author's Bio: 

It's his easy going approach to the most complicated topics of life that keep folks coming back again and again. His company offers a total approach to wellness both mental and physical. If you're ever in the Los Angeles area look him up to go for a great run to the ocean! You can also find him on the web at www.inspiredtolive.com