This week’s post is a short one and is dedicated to the families of two friends who died much too soon — last week our long-time dog sitter, only 47, from a heart attack, and three months ago one of my husband’s coworkers who died very unexpectedly on vacation abroad. My hubby spent the past two days clearing out his coworker’s locker and returning personal items to the family, a task that was hard for him because they’d been friends as well as workmates, but which he undertook willingly to help the family achieve a little bit of closure during such a difficult time. We’ve lost too many friends far too soon, and if we’ve learned anything over the years it’s that life is often much too short, and that we need to appreciate every moment, even the less-than-stellar ones, because the fact that we’re still here to have them is a profound gift.
Last week my hubby ended up in the hospital for several days with a heart flutter (hence my week’s hiatus). One of the chambers of his heart was beating too fast and too shallowly, so not enough oxygen was making it to his organs properly. He’d been having the odd issue with some minor shortness of breath, but one day I got one of the calls you never want to get: he was on his way to the hospital. The ECG confirmed what his high pulse rate (128 bpm) already indicated. He was put on some specific medications to regulate his heart rhythm, but they didn’t work, so the treatment was then to give his heart a mild shock to restore its natural rhythm.
That Friday I also found out that the 14-year-old son of a good friend of mine had gone missing for several days. Many people helped spread the alert through Facebook, but my friend was frantic.
Both of these stories had a happy ending — the electric shock on my hubby’s heart worked, so he’s back home and feeling much better, although his medications have been changed and there are some lifestyle changes required, and later in the day that the missing-child alert went out the police found the boy via a phone tip — but they could both easily have turned out much differently.
We all have things in our lives that we tend to take for granted over time, so I’d like this post to serve two purposes:
1) as a friendly reminder to make sure you appreciate the things in your life that you value, especially your health, and
2) to go after some of the things you really want to do instead of frittering away your life on daily clutter.
A lot of people toy with dream-version bucket lists, but not every one makes a point of accomplishing the things they dream about, and with proper planning you’d be surprised what you can manage. We have a relative, for example, whose big dream was to return to England and spend a year there, living in a cottage and roaming through the country, but he never did make it back. In the meantime, in 4-10 day increments, my hubby Mike & I have been to different parts of England about half a dozen times. (Yes, it’s one of our favourite places to visit).
A good bucket list will accomplish goals that really mean something to you, including measures to maintain or improve your health — after all, what’s the point in planning ahead if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it. Mike and I have watched so many people put off doing anything fun until their retirement, then not surviving long enough to actually enjoy their retirement plans. Here are two things you can do right now:
- read this article on Rodale called 6 Surprising Heart Disease Warning Signs (and What to Do about Them) — I wish I’d seen this sooner
- visit our Love It, Live It pages about ways to plan and live a rich, full life before it’s too late to have anything but regrets