Monday, July 27, 2009

Borrowed Time

My heart attack is 20 years old this month.

I was on a Metroliner from Wilmington Delaware to New York City at the time. It was a Sunday afternoon. I'd been on vacation that week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where I ate badly, smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish.

In other words, business as usual.

A few minutes after the train pulled out of New Brunswick, I caught sight of the (late) Twin Towers of the World Trade Center some 30 miles off in the distance.

That's when I first felt it. A tightness in my chest. It felt like someone had balled up their fist and was shoving it straight up under my sternum. I didn't know that that's where the heart is actually located. I thought "how odd. it must be indigestion." What did I know about heart attacks? Nothing. I thought you were supposed to feel a shooting pain up your arm (I didn't).

It didn't go away.

I got back to New York and I got home.

It didn't go away. I slept fitfully that night.

It was a hundred degrees in New York that July. My ex and I went out to dinner because it was too hot to cook. We went out that Monday night, the next night (Tuesday) and the night after that (Wednesday). We went to dinner at the Post House (a chop and steak joint) that night. I had the prime rib (large), with a baked potato and lots of butter and broccoli with hollandaise sauce (yeah, I know).

After dinner, we decided to walk over to the Lex line from the west side. We got to Astor Place. I collapsed on the platform.

The doctor said I should've died. He said I'd had a massive coronary. I needed a cigarette and a drink when he said that.

I kept drinking and smoking for years afterward. I didn't care. Even though I was a high-powered Wall Streeter at the time, I was very unhappy and wished, deep-down-inside, that I was dead.

I would eventually lose everything (Wall Street, the ex, etc.) I would get sober in 1998. I would have quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004 and quit smoking at the same time. I would have bilateral endarterectomies in 2005. I would be diagnosed with type II diabetes in 2006 and eventually have a stomach bypass in 2008 to fix the diabetes.

Twenty years ago I had a massive coronary.

Twenty years ago, I realize now, God was very busy saving me from myself. Time and time and time again.

I don't doubt it.

Miracles happen. I am one.


Kelly said...

Sure glad God took time out of Her busy schedule to save you from yourself. :) It's been delightful knowing you all these years, and I wouldn't have had that chance if She'd been busy somewhere else that day.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Exactumly. :-o

Bev Sykes said...

I echo Kelly's sentiments. You've become very special to a host of people, me among them.