I Love My Ugly Bracelet

I Love My Ugly Bracelet

If it has not happened to you before, you will have likely seen it on TV, read it in a book, or heard about a similar situation. Think back to that one time when a special somebody got a gift for you. When you opened said gift, and it was (let’s be polite)…umm…not your style. It was Christmas 2015 when I had this very experience with my fiancée.

After my son had shredded through the presents with his name on it, we took turns opening gifts. I came to a smaller box from Megan (fiancée). I open it up and there it is - a black rubber band, a medical bracelet. You see, a few weeks earlier I had something come up that put a few things into perspective – at 41 years old, I had a heart attack.

A few days after my 41st birthday, I bring my son to the gym and get in a Sunday workout. After the workout, I feel like I am bonking (a highly technical term meaning I feel like a low blood sugar after a workout), and I have a slight discomfort in my right pectoral near my underarm. After drinking something and waiting several minutes, I head back home. I put my son down for a nap, head to the living room, and fall asleep in the chair. When I woke up, the pain subsided, and I simply went about my day.

Fast forward one week later, Megan and I return from a trip to West Virginia and head to the gym for a workout. There was yet another bonking session near the end of the workout. Pain and pressure in the right armpit area. No shortness of breath. No nausea. Normal heart rate. Normal blood pressure. However, as bedtime neared I could not get comfortable, so I went to the living room and started watching a movie. Then another. And another. And then watched sports.  My dumb ass sat with the pain in my chest for nearly twelve hours before I went to the ER! 

I had no prior cardiac problems. No family history of cardiovascular disease. I exercise regularly, eat very well, and had found some peace in my life. I have been active in the fitness world as a career fitness professional (owner/director/trainer/author/presenter/educator), yet here I was staring at a nurse and emergency room physician blankly when they read an enzyme test informing me that I had “at least one heart attack” recently. Inside of 45 minutes, I am on the operating room table.

A full occlusion of the RCA (Right Coronary Artery) was what brought me in. The tests exposed the heart attack. I was just given a big ol’ serving of mortality, and as the doctors so eloquently put it, “if you did not exercise and eat healthy, you may not be here right now. We may be having this discussion with Megan instead of you.” Sobering words to say the least.

The cardiologists also noticed another area in my cardiovascular system that may need attention at some point but felt comfortable discharging me. Four months later, I am back in surgery and have two more arteries cleared. Three stents, two surgeries, one heart attack and a whole new approach to things (the new version of the 12 Days of Christmas carol?).

The new approach for somebody that is always stressing about things is to give just a little less worry to things. To let some things go. Holding on to hostility, frustration, and disrespect from others, and myself needs to stop. Focus on the core values of my existence and make that the centerpiece. My son. Megan. My relationship with my faith. My health. My family and friends. My sanity. My work.

It is now over a year since my last procedure, and I am so very fortunate to have the support system that keeps me alive – And this medical bracelet is what helps ground me. It says items routinely like:

“Hey, asshole. No need to deadlift 600lbs. 545lb was plenty.”

“Your kid would like to be able to ask you for money for a loooong time.“

“No reason to compete with anyone except yourself.”

“Everyone has a path. Yours is supposed to be this. Own it.”

The bracelet keeps me humble. The bracelet keeps me on an even keel. The bracelet drives me to be better daily in different ways. Smarter. Kinder. More forgiving. But at the same time, the bracelet teaches me to work for what I want, do things right, and be around for what I value most for the long haul! This is what I bring to my loved ones, my clients, my team – and I plan on doing it for quite a while!

I love my ugly bracelet.

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