Your Security Buffer: Preparing For The Unexpected

Just after finishing medical school, I had my rotation in the emergency department. As you can imagine, I was reminded on a daily basis just how tough life can be.

Whether it was the 27-year-old male having a heart attack, a young mother with cancer or a grandfather with chronic disease, the list of problems was endless.

None of these people anticipated arriving in my emergency department that day. Until that point, they had been going about their business and spending time with their families. They had no idea what life had in store for them.

Our lives can change in a moment. We can have the best laid plans, go to all the seminars, read all the books and life will still throw us curveballs.

Mine came in the form of bypass surgery at the age of 39.

That Could Never Happen To Me!

Eight years before my surgery, my father had his own bypass. As a precaution, I went in to get a baseline check in the unlikely event I developed heart problems of my own.

I had been a nationally-ranked swimmer and looked after my health all my life. My mindset going into the check-up was that I would receive a clean bill of health. Clearly, I had nothing to worry about.

I left that appointment with a diagnosis I never thought possible.

I was told I had a 4mm aneurysm (a weakness in the artery wall) and the beginnings of plaque deposits on either side of the aneurysm. In plain English, I was walking around with a ticking time bomb in my chest.

After talking with my doctor, we decided on a course of treatment that included medication and would check on the status of my condition every few years. And for a few years, things were fine.

In October of 2015 my condition changed dramatically.

After a routine stress test, my cardiologist called and said that half of my heart had stopped moving properly during the test. I don’t think I need to tell you that this was not good news.

A week later, I had an angiogram (which takes pictures from inside the body about the status of the heart and arteries). We discovered that the plaque deposits had changed from a 45% blockage to an 85% obstruction in just 24 months.

Monitoring and medication were no longer an option. I would have heart bypass surgery within the week.

What Needs To Be In Place?

As a physician myself, I knew the risks of surgery.  I knew this was the best course of action to treat my condition. And I knew I might not survive such an invasive procedure.

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