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New Normal requires change

Most of you know I had cardiac arrest in June of 2014. Since February is National Heart Month, I thought I'd take this time to talk about what that looks like one year and eight months later.

But first, to set up the story, I should explain that I was in fairly good health before it happened. At least I thought I was. I knew I had an irregular heart beat  an electrical problem  but the doctor said it was nothing to worry about. So I didn't worry about it  until one night my heart stopped and I basically dropped dead.

But I recovered, I'm taking my meds, and my heart and I have begun living my New Normal. It's taken me this long to begin to figure out what that means.

For me, it meant a dramatic change of life. I was a regular drinker, and I stopped doing that. And while my friends are still my friends, most of them are rowdy drinkers just like I was, so we don't hang out as much, if at all.

I was already fighting some memory issues, but now, after recovering from cardiac arrest, and meds that want to make my brain foggy, people suddenly capitalize on that weakness like a coyote on a calf gone astray from the herd. At work or with my kids, any unclear detail or miscommunication suddenly becomes ... "I KNOW I told you about it," or "Don't you remember? I wore that shirt three years ago at the concert." Then they look at me like I'm crazy. Which I'm not.

Months of recovery and then months of hard work on a business project have left me in a new state that I don't recognize. While I was reasonably fit back then, now I'm struggling to get into a workout routine that will work with my New Normal. There is a chronic pain where before were occasional aches. Perhaps because I'm off the medication (beer) that I used to consume nightly.

These are quieter times. Not as many rowdy, late-night antics, but that's OK. That ship sailed for many years, it was time to throw down the anchor. Still, the New Normal is a subtle change, but a huge adjustment all at once. It is just the slightest paradigm shift that has me pointed in a new direction I hardly even recognize.

Despite all this, there is a peace inside of me that didn't exist before. I met a man several months ago who had been a fighter pilot in the war. He told about the time he was shot down and lived to come back home and tell about it. "I never have a bad day" is what he said.

Well, I've had some bad days. But there's always that perspective in the midst of it that says "this isn't really what's important." What is important is spending time with our loved ones, enjoying life one day at a time and working toward that higher purpose.

And what's the higher purpose? I'm not sure. I spend a lot of time thinking about that and how God let me live while others do not. I lost a best friend a year ago, just months after my near-death experience, and all I know is it'll drive you crazy trying to make sense of that sort of thing if you let it. I don't feel guilty, I just occasionally feel ... bewildered.

So finally, back to National Heart Month: My unsolicited advice to anyone out there with an irregularity or heart issue of any kind is to get it checked out and stay on top of it. It's very important to be proactive with your health care. Learn as much as you can and push for the best quality of life possible. If things don't click quite right with your doctor, find another one. You have to feel comfortable. You have to feel valued and heard. If you don't, run, don't walk, out of there.

Get good insurance and get right with God. Then you'll be OK no matter what.

The Lawton Constitution

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