My friend Jean calls it living life out loud. She means talking about what is going on in your life so others can benefit from your experiences. That doesn’t mean airing your dirty laundry on Facebook to get attention. In my case, if you’ve been following along recently, you know it means talking about heart disease and my own experiences with open heart surgery, recovery and cardiac rehab.
Probably the funniest response to one of these columns was from my heart surgeon. I went in for a follow up a few days ago. After he checked me out and gave me his seal of approval, he asked how my first column about heart disease (Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did) appeared in the paper the same day he released me from the hospital. I told him I had been bored in my hospital bed. I had time to write.
I’ve really enjoyed hearing from others who have had similar experiences. Many of the people who’ve sent me notes or emails have had great advice or encouragement to offer. The coolest part of talking about it though, is realizing I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life. While not unheard of, needing five bypasses at 48 years of age is somewhat unusual. By writing about my situation others who are close to me in age, or even younger with some family history or other risk factors, are realizing that they aren’t immune to heart disease and need to get themselves checked out. Because of my experiences, they are calling their doctors and going in for a physical or a stress test.
“Cousin Bill” got a clean bill of health from his doctor; Gene was scheduling a stress test; and Chris, a friend since high school, sent me an email to tell me that he was planning major changes to his own lifestyle and meeting with his doctor to get approval for his plan. I also got a very nice letter from a new friend named Dick who had bypass surgery several years ago and received a stent just a few weeks ago. Now, Dick is preparing to leave on a long vacation in his RV. He closed his letter with this thought: The road has not been smooth, but we make the most of what time the Good Lord gives us.
If by living my life out loud (when it comes to heart disease) I can help a few people live longer and “make the most of what time the Good Lord gives us” I’ve done my job.