The day a heart attack struck me down is a hard one to remember.
I remember the stuff before (or during?): the cereal, the pressure in my chest, laying down thinking I was just not feeling well. I remember being tested in a room off the Emergency Room—but I do not remember the ER at all otherwise. I remember someone suggesting the first tests came back negative, and that maybe it was gastrointestinal. (Later tests would suggest otherwise.) I also remember them pumping me with all sorts of drugs. Maybe that’s when most of my memories get a little indistinct.
I have to admit, there was nothing pleasant about the whole thing.
I didn’t spend my Near Death Experience thinking about the things I regretted in the past. I thought—well, insofar as you can say I had any actual thoughts at all—about the things I hadn’t done yet, about the unfulfilled potentialities, the unfinished novels, the unseen sights, the unconquered challenges. I admit it was all very abstract. But I know where my focus was.
Three days later, I emerged from the hospital, slowly and weakly, with one collapsed artery and an arsenal of medications. Used to be, I took one pill twice a day for my blood pressure, which has been high since I was 19. Now, there were a dozen medications, some twice daily, and insulin–thanks to the diabetes–as many as four times a day, depending on my sugar readings.
So now I’m stabbing myself multiple times a day. First to check my sugar, then to add insulin.
The first week, it was an effort to get from the bed to the couch.
I didn’t want to stay weak. I didn’t want to stay dependent upon an assortment of pills and shots.
That’s my motivation.
The fitter I am–the lower my weight and the better I eat–the more likely I’ll be able to kick some of those medications. A few–like a daily vitamin–might stay forever, but overall I wanted to get rid of as many as I could. I told my doctor this. I said it was an intention. A goal. A purpose. I want to be able to go climb Kilimanjaro and not have to worry about accidentally dropping my supply down the side of the mountain on the third day. (I still need someone to provide me with the chance to climb that mountain and see those glaciers.)
For me, this isn’t going to happen overnight. But in the past twelve months, since the heart attack, I’ve managed to drop my weight by almost 60 pounds. Additionally, albeit with the help of all that medicine, I’ve got all my numbers–cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar–under control. I’m no longer insulin dependent. Under medical guidance, I’ve eliminated some of the medicine. I still take a lot. But they’re going away.
That’s my motivation.
Your motivation, if you don’t already have one, should be to avoid this scenario. Don’t go until it’s too late, or almost too late, or close enough to too late that you simply cannot recover.