Let me start by saying this story is not about me; it is about you. It is about you, your family, your co-workers, and your clients. It is about the guy standing behind you in the Starbucks line. My hope is that by sharing this, one of you will take action regarding your health that you might not have otherwise considered taking.
Earlier this year, I lost a lifelong friend suddenly and unexpectedly. It is one of those moments in all of our lives that shake us and cause us to look at the world a little differently. My friend was in seemingly good health and showed no symptoms of an illness. We lost him to a heart attack, possibly one that is known as the Widowmaker, which is often an immediate cause of death to those that suffer from it.
I first learned of the Widowmaker when our OneDigital colleague, Eric Haglund, wrote an impassioned email to several of us a few years ago. He, too, had lost a great friend suddenly from the same cause. No warning, no symptoms, and in seemingly good health. If you have ever received one of Eric’s emails, you know that he has a unique writing style that leaves no question regarding his passion for the subject. He challenged all of us to find a local resource capable of performing a heart or body scan to test for potential heart issues.
I took Eric up on the challenge and found a local hospital in my area that provides such a scan. The exam takes 15 minutes, cost $50 and they immediately give you the results. In my case, the scan showed that I have some indicators that might be a concern. I was advised to see a cardiologist. I did so and was told that any blockage I might have was not in the area impacted by the Widowmaker. But, I was told that I have a heart murmur, something that I had never been told before. The physician advised that we should monitor it for a while to determine a course of action.
Earlier this year, I had a CT scan that indicated that I have an aortic aneurysm that is causing the murmur. Open heart surgery is a possibility and we have decided to watch it for a while to determine the right approach. I am asymptomatic, but I feel fine and other than some new medications, nothing has changed.
As I said at the beginning, this is not about me, it is about you. I have always been very good about getting annual physicals and seeking care when needed. Despite numerous test over the years, my issue has never been identified. In many respects, we found this out by accident and I owe that to Eric’s email from a few years ago.
I am hoping that one of you gain inspiration from this and take steps regarding your and your loved ones’ health to gain more information. There are many potential health concerns that might not surface if you wait on your care providers to find them for you. Heart and body scans, mammograms, colonoscopies, are just a few examples of elective exams that may help with early identification of concerns.
Health concerns are not limited by age, gender, body size, etc. You might feel great and looking forward to your next marathon, but you still need to be proactive. I certainly wish my friend had been.
Much like Eric, I am challenging you to take action TODAY. And challenge the guy in the Starbucks line to do the same!
Wayne Mertel, VP Sales Operations