The plan that I came up with sometime in mid-2017 was to work on me, as a person. Work on my depression, my anger, my frustration with being overweight and then, when my mind was in the right spot, turn my attention to the number on the scale. Get my mind right, then work on my body.
The funny thing about the universe is, sometimes, your plans don’t mean squat. Sometimes the universe gives you a signal that it’s time. And if that signal wasn’t taken serious enough, the universe gives you a swift kick in the pants. Or chest in my case.
December of 2017, my wife and I flew to Breckenridge, Colorado for a long weekend getaway with a group of friends. I expected laughter, some tubing, and most of all, relaxation. While I got most of that, my vacation began with a trip to the ER, chest pains, and trouble breathing.
When traveling from a few hundred feet above sea level to many thousands of feet above sea level, your body has to adjust. At 12,000 feet above sea level, your body has to work very hard. And when you are severely overweight like I am, your body has to work even harder. Your blood pressure can rise, your oxygen can drop, you can get “altitude sickness”. To me, within hours of landing in Denver and then driving to our cottage just outside Breckenridge, it felt like someone was kneeling on my chest. My heart rate was up, my blood pressure was up, and I was googling my symptoms (which is an awful idea, by the way. Just terrifying).
The next morning, with the chest pains still there, I went to a doctor. (yes, I understand with chest pains I should have gone earlier. The nurses reminded me of that over and over). While my friends went tubing I was getting an EKG and chest X-Ray. Some vacation, huh?
Now, I think I should tell you that during all this I remained, for the most part, very calm. Like it was a routine thing to go to the hospital with chest pains while on vacation. And why was I so relaxed?
Robert. The gate operator at our car rental place in Denver.
Robert told me I would be ok..before I even felt chest pains.
Normally when you rent a car you drive to the gate, hand them your paperwork, they say good day and open the gate. But not Robert. He checked our paperwork and then asked us to roll down the windows. (There were six of us in the car) Robert then proceeded to give us a three minute motivational speech about letting go of the past, accepting it, and moving forward. “There’s only a few weeks left in 2017. Whatever negativity you had, whatever problems you had, let them go,” he said as he wiped his hands clean. “2018 is a new year. A new time. A new way to move forward.” He talked of being in the moment, cherishing it all. And then he looked at me. Right at me. He pointed a finger in my direction and said “Especially this guy. He needs it. You need it. Let it go. Move forward.”
It would have been easy to laugh off our encounter as just some random wierdo. It would have been wrong too. Everyone in that car felt what he was saying. We all knew he was right. So when I found myself in an X-Ray room, I naively knew that I would be ok.
I knew my time for change was here, now. No more waiting. No more preparing. Now. I had found a sense of peace within myself and knew I would be ok. I knew I had work to do, a lot of work, but I knew I would be ok. I was ready.
The test results came back and I had not suffered any sort of heart attack. My blood pressure had lowered to a good range. They tested my oxygen levels and they were lower than they should be. After a nice oxygen mask session, me levels went back to normal and the chest pains disappeared.
I left the ER and walked into the cool air of wintery Colorado. A fresh start on life, a smile on my face, and the words of Robert buzzing in my head.
Let it go. Move Forward.