Monday, December 19, 2011

58. Ten Years and Still Making Every Day Count

December, 2001
This is a special day for me, for it marks the tenth anniversary of the day I almost died.

Unconscious on a metal table, my body chilled to 93 degrees,  my heart was stopped and machines breathed for me and circulated my blood.  I spent many long hours in this condition while arteries and veins were cut from my chest, arm and legs and then sewn to the blood vessels of my heart.

I had six by-passes at the age of 45.

It took a while to recover from this operation and it did indeed change my life on so many levels. So many changes. You would think, for example, that a close brush with death would make you appreciate how precious life really is, which I do, and therefore I would become a much more cautious person.  But instead, it made me fearless in the sense that it gave me a new perspective. I knew what was, and wasn't, important and I knew how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I really was without fear in my dealings with people and in my law practice.  The feeling was, after what I had gone through and survived, there was nothing anyone could throw at me that would compare. I suppose it is the same kind of confidence someone may develop after surviving a major catastrophe. It either destroys you or makes you a stronger, better person. Unfortunately, it also sometimes makes it difficult for me to suffer fools easily and in that respect, it may be more like some elderly persons I have known who are at a point in their lives where they just don't really care what other people think, about them or anything else. While I haven't quite turned into a grouchy hermit, I did learn to slow down and appreciate every single day for its own sake, to stop planning so much for the future, or dwell too much in the past. The past can't be changed and the future is always uncertain. But we all exist in the present, and I needed to live in the present. And so I have.

My children have grown and made me very proud of them.  A lot has happened in the last ten years and I hope to be around for many years to come.  Wealth and success can come and go, but it was the love and support of my family that pulled me through a most difficult time.  I was too ill and weak to set up the Christmas tree that year (the only year I can remember not doing so), but the love and togetherness of our family was so strong, we hardly even noticed. 

The above photo was taken on Christmas Day in 2001 while I was recovering from my surgery. From left to right: Me, Alice Davis (my mother), Alyssa Bickers (my daughter), Tom Davis (my step-father); and Jessica Landis (my step-daughter).  Photo by Diane Landis Bickers (my wife).