I love January, it is one of my favorite months. My birthday is in January, it is usually a time for me to address projects that have been on my plate and I always want to start off the year motivated and running full tilt. In the outdoor business it is also the time when we have major industry trade shows and this year was no different. This year though, with the development and migration of our site over to a new format, I chose only one show to attend: SHOT Show.
The first week in January was pretty good. I made headway on several small projects and was feeling momentum. On January 6th, I took my girlfriend hunting and she shot a great doe at about 4:45pm down in the canyon. I had enough sense to bring one of the kid’s snow sleds and I hauled out the deer with Marjorie. We gutted it out and loaded it up. While I was gutting out that deer, I got cold – really, really cold – and I felt it in my bones and my muscles were tired. We drove home from the farm and the next morning I was sick. The kids had already been sick with the flu so I figured that I finally got my due. I met with my great doctor and got the flu shot, got Tami-Flu, and prepared myself to get better with lots of good food, plenty of rest, and a warm fire all week.
The next week was SHOT show and if you have ever been to this show you just know that it is craziest show in the world. It was probably 32 degrees on SHOT Show Media Day and those who saw me there could see that I was shivering and having a hard time concentrating fully on what they were saying. I was cold and I did not stop shivering until I got back to the hotel at about 4pm and I poured a really, really hot bath and laid in the bath for about an hour. The rest of the week was a blur but I walked about 10 miles a day, met with all of the wonderful people in this industry, and I got to see some real game changers in the hunting industry.
On Friday evening, I flew home late and got in to a rousing welcome by my kids. We spent the long weekend together, as the kids had Monday off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. On that day, it was cold, it snowed, and I swept the 1/2 inch of snow off my driveway, Marjorie’s driveway, and her parents’ driveway. In the afternoon, I did the whole round again. It was super cold out and windy. My chest got tight and my heart was beating pretty hard and I felt some pain go down my arms. I didn’t think too much of it, sat down on the couch, and rested for a bit. Over the next week, I had several moments where I felt the exact same thing and I knew my chest was tight. I called the doctor on Friday and set an appointment for Monday morning. He told me to take it easy and if I felt something awful to go into the emergency room. He was worried about my recent flight and having a Pulmonary Embolism and with some leg pain I was experiencing I was a bit nervous as well.
Friday night was relaxing. On Saturday our entire family went out to the prairie to look for a GeoCache. While I was not nearly 100%, I took it slow and steady and had no real trouble walking along with the little kids and having a fun time. I came home, made dinner, and we had a nice movie night with our family.
On Sunday, I was stressed out a good part of the day. I was behind on the site development and I needed a few extra days to get things done. The evening was stressful, so I stopped for a bit, I made dinner, and I made whipped up a batch of cookies for the kids. I started to stir the cookie dough and it didn’t go very well. My chest got really tight, pain shot down my arms, and I was not breathing very well. I put the kids to bed and I sat down on the couch and took a short nap. I woke up at 11pm and walked outside into the cold air and I smoked my last cigarette. As I stepped into the house, I knew I was not well. I was sweating profusely, my brain was not functioning, my heart was pounding out of my chest, my lungs were super tight, and my arms were so heavy, I was having a hard time lifting them.
I called Marjorie and told her I needed help and I woke up the kids. I should have called 911, but Marjorie rushed over and was my angel, she took me to the hospital. As I walked in, the emergency personnel took one look at me and told me I was having a heart attack. They rushed me over the to the Cath Lab at a nearby hospital. Within 2 hours I had a stint put into my heart and I was beginning to feel better. I was turning 43 that same day! I could not believe it. The next two days in the hospital were surreal to say the least. I am doing 100% better, though still a bit shocked.
The reason for my heart attack was two fold. My cholesterol was slightly high as years of poor eating in my youth had certainly not helped me. As well, 24 years of smoking had finally done its damage to my body. I GOT LUCKY! I am still here, I get to hold and hug my kids, and I still get to go on hunts. I thought long and hard about sharing this on the site, but I feel that if this can help just one person, then it is all worth it.
I had no clue this could happen to me, I have always believed that something like getting sick would happen much later in life. I never imagined at my age I could have a heart attack. I got lucky and I got a wake up call. I haven’t had a cigarette in 4 days and I highly doubt that one will ever touch my lips again. I am on a wealth of new medication and I have several weeks of cardiac therapy so I can prepare my body for spring gobbler season. Go get your cholesterol checked, get and EKG, and take care of yourselves. I learned some lessons and I have some ideas for a few articles coming here in the near future about how to protect yourself in the outdoors. Life is SHORT, for me it could have been really short, it could have been over an hour before my 43rd Birthday, but I got lucky and I am making some serious changes. This website is just the start of those changes and many more to come.