Today marks the 2nd anniversary of my Heart Attack.
Here’s my backstory with an update at the bottom of the post for those who haven’t seen this or need a reminder that life is short.
2 year ago today, I had a life-changing experience that changed the way I view and approach life.
I had a heart attack at 39 years young.
I just finished playing hockey, and I felt fine during the game, although a couple of the guys said I seemed off. I felt some pain in my chest, and some pain going down my arm, but I thought it could be arthritis or just physical strain from the exercise that would go away. After all, at my age, I didn’t even consider that I was having a heart attack. But when I got home that night the pain got worse, and around 1:30am I finally gave in and drove myself to the hospital. Sure enough, I was having a heart attack, so I got there just in time.
I’m not gonna lie, the first couple of days, weeks and months put me in a dark place mentally. At 39, you think have time and will live forever. Now, this had all changed, I’m the father of two beautiful girls who are my world. You begin to think if you will see them start school, finish school and even more frightening I would think if they would even remember me if I wasn’t there. So that’s why I document as much as I can with them as I want them to remember me if I’m no longer around.
I began to think about when the ‘next one’ will come. Will it be tomorrow, next week, or next month? As time goes on, this get’s easier but it’s still in the back of my mind every single day.
I would think about Sara and what she must be going through and what her life would be like when I’m not around.
I thought about the rest of my family and what kind of impact it would have on my parents.
I thought about my business. After all, I have a team who counts on me for their lively hood.
I was also told I would never play hockey again. For anyone who knows me, you would know how much I love the game. Not only playing it but also what it’s given me throughout my life. The people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built. This was a tough one to take it but it was something I learned to accept as there were so many other priorities in life that I needed to take care of.
So now that you have got this far, please keep reading.
Clearly, I had to make changes if I wanted to be around for my family.
First I met with a dietitian. If I wanted to lower my cholesterol I would have to change my diet. She helped me have a better understanding of what I put in my body and the impact it would have on me. One of the things I had done in my ‘old life’ was not eating regularly. I would skip breakfast and sometimes lunch. This has a big impact on your heart. I also cut sugar from my diet. The more I read about sugar, the more I realized how much I was consuming and the impact this had on my cholesterol and my entire health.
Now, I make sure I have a heart-healthy breakfast which includes steel cut oats every morning. I also make sure I get plenty of water and each something small every couple of hours. Most of the time, this would be a handful of almonds or some fruit.
I also had to go through a cardiac rehabilitation program. As someone who was active, I was included in a program that allowed me to get back to an active lifestyle. My therapist was absolutely amazing and with his help, I was able to start the process of becoming a new me.
The greatest part of the cardiac rehab program came in December when I was told I could start playing hockey again if I wanted to. Again, for anyone who knows me will know how much this meant to me. It meant I would start to get a part of me back that I thought I would never have again.
So started playing hockey again and this year I participated in my first Hockey Heroes Weekended where I played along with NHL greats but more importantly allowed me to share my story with others and raise money to fight this horrible disease.
Beyond hockey, I also had to make sure I would stay active. For me, this meant starting small with walks in the evenings. Those walks turned into runs and now I’m back to running on a regular basis. I’ve also set up a small gym in my home to make it easier to stay fit. Not only does this help with my cardiovascular system, but it also plays a big part in my mental state as well.
I studied my disease. I read and watched as much as I could about cholesterol, heart disease, and how I could prevent future issues.
I changed my approach to my business. Prior to my heart attack, I was like many entrepreneurs, I would work and work trying to ensure the growth of our business. I would put the stress of the day to day of my business and not delegate to my team. Upon having my heart attack, many of the tasks I had to do were given to my team and they rose above and beyond the challenge during my recovery. This has allowed me to rethink my approach to running my business by creating a business that’s focused on creating results for our clients while maintaining a work-life balance for myself and my team.
1 Year Later (2018)
Two Years Later (2018)
Over the last year, I’ve regained the confidence in myself and my health that allows me to continue to live a healthy lifestyle.
I’m now playing hockey on a regular basis in the winter and no longer waiting for the next one. I’m easily running 10k and I’m looking to increase that distance over the course of this year.
I’ve also recently started going back to the gym to focus on strength training. This once was a regular habit for me and is now something I’m making time for and enjoy again.
I’m watching my girls develop in so many ways that they provide me with the motivation to keep lifestyle habits in place to watch them grow into amazing human beings.
I’m traveling more. One of the big lessons here is that life is short and there’s much of the world that I’ve yet to see. This means planning more travel experiences now with Sara and the girls versus later. So far this year it’s allowed me to see New York, California, Las Vegas, an unplanned night in Denver with more travel scheduled for PEI, Toronto, and New York again in the fall to watch my Canucks.
I’ve been lucky enough to build a great team at Newfound Marketing. I’ve watched my team grow and develop over the last year. They have allowed me to focus my attention to different parts of the business so we can take ourselves to another level.
I think the most important thing for me to take from this, and that hopefully I can share with others, is to really take the time to take care of yourself and your health, and be aware of your family’s medical history. I see so many people my age that live the same busy lifestyle, and between family, work and young kids, are just not taking that time to make the right food choices, and to be physically active.
I want to be an example for my girls, and teach them healthy lifestyle habits that they will carry on with them throughout their life.