Wednesday, May 11, 2011



They say stress can kill you, and with what stress seems to have heaped upon me recently, I don’t find that hard to believe.

One day you figure that stress is supposed to feel like a set of eagle talons clamped onto your neck and shoulders, and the next you’re passing out at work, ending up in the hospital, and within 24 hours being told that you have an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. No, sir, you’re not going to die, not yet anyway, but there are some physical peculiarities that need sorting out.

You get an echocardiogram, and it shows that your heart muscle is up to the work it has outlined for it, but the elderly cardiologist tells you you’re fat, too young to be putting so much stress on your systems, and get some blood work done, thank you. Oh, and see you in a few weeks for a stress test, after we’ve dealt with that hypertension, of course.

You’re out of work until things make a little more sense, and meanwhile you’re taking pills for the blood pressure and anxiety, just to keep all the metrics where they belong.

You need to stay active, not just give in to the nearly debilitating right hook of mortality socking you smack in the jaw, but at first it’s an uphill battle. Then, after a few days, you come to grips with the fact that you’re a stone’s skip from fifty, and getting a wake-up call this cheaply is actually a pretty decent bargain.

Your wife loves you, despite your various failings, and you have a chance to make sure she continues to do so. You can lay out a path to better health, for yourself and your relationship. You see your children as treasures, the kind you need to stay around for a long time to admire and cherish.

This is when you realize you need to relax, make the changes that keep you on the right tracks, and enjoy the ride more often. Find reasons to say yes, not no. Don’t begrudge, be giving. Take the chance you’re given, and turn it into smiles, not scowls.

Because even when things don’t work out exactly according to plan, it’s still sunny on the inside.

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