Today marks a year since my heart attack.
I reached a major milestone today. This is Day #366 since I suffered a heart attack a year ago last December 26. Early that morning at Ala Moana Beach Park I had just started my short walk when I felt the slight pain, definite congestion and hobbling pace. Something was wrong as I turned around and headed back for my car and eventually to the hospital that led up to major bypass surgery. Those events are recounted in earlier entries to this blog.
December 26, 2016: This morning I returned to Ala Moana Beach Park / Magic Island to take the walk that I did not complete a year ago. It was my way to quietly celebrate the milestone of life which would have probably ended if I did not make the right decisions last year. Today I reflect and count my blessings that I am still here on Earth, doing what I like to do and trying my best to cope with my improved but still challenging situation.
My health is good. I can walk, talk, eat, drink (water mostly), drive and do all of the other things that I can or love to do. I have changed my eating habits and try to walk at least 2 miles every day. I lost more than 30 pounds since last year and have had to down size my clothes and the clutter of my living condition.
I could not have gotten to where I am by myself.
First of all I’d like to thank my doctors and nurses who helped me live and overcome much of the trauma associated with major heart surgery and the long road to recovery. Special thanks to Dr. Steven M. Kramer at Kaiser Permanente who has been the patient and understanding physician in my life for the past 4 years. He recently left his general practice to move on to specialized care for senior citizens.
Lisa Davidson is my close friend who has championed not only the changes I made for my health but also encouraging me to try new things in life. Early on I was not very kind to her as we had a falling out shortly after my surgery. But time healed and I am happy to have her back in my life again as a lifelong friend. Today we are both there for each other to help us overcome many of life’s challenges and struggles. Lisa is a very talented writer and creative type that is looking for a new professional opportunity in which she can once again spread her wings to “change the world”.
Then there is Jerry Stanfield, my good friend who I met many years ago through an association we had while working for the non-profit, but now defunct Small Business Hawaii organization and the Hawaii State Legislature. Over the years Jerry and I have become good friends due to our sharing of many common interests such as photography, computers, music, history and aviation.
Jerry who moved to Costa Rica about 2 years ago went out of his way to come back to Hawaii and help care for me the 2nd month that I was out of the hospital. He encouraged me to keep to the walking regimen and helped build my independence. In return I always help him with his computer and other tech questions. Today Jerry is back in Costa Rica enjoying his retired life there after spending more than 50 years in Hawaii.
Last but not least is my sister Sandra Ah Ching. She has had to put up with me a lot over the past year. Sandra arrived in Honolulu on January 5, 2016, the day that I was discharged from the hospital.
There is a lot that I could and should write about the care that Sandra gave to me for that first month and later on 2 return trips to Honolulu. She is sometimes misunderstood, but definitely has nothing but good intentions for other people in her life.
During my month-long period of early recovery, Sandra did a ton of stuff for me. The first few weeks after my release from the hospital, I could barely do the routine stuff. Sandra was there to do it all for me — grocery shopping, some cooking, driving the car, assisting me in getting dressed, tending to my surgical wounds, helping me with my medications, the bathroom and propping me up in bed. She encouraged me to walk the first feeble, painful steps after surgery. She encouraged me to “cough through the pain” because that was good for me. Fact is to this very day, she encourages me often to go the extra mile, to push it to the next step even though I can be the stubborn, reluctant person to some of those changes.
At the same time during the month of January, Sandra also managed to help me get my cluttered home life into gear. You see, after surgery I had to stay for more than a month at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu which I live nearby. My condo was a huge mess and had to be cleaned up. — too much clutter. I was forbidden to go there in my weak, vulnerable, post-surgical state.
She took charge of the clutter extraction at the apartment with the help of an organizational company we hired and later with contractors to fix the place up. What she helped me with is beyond words and the story for a possible, separate blog entry.
So in addition to helping me recover with my health, she also had to be “clutter buster” and then later “organizational manager”; the latter task of which she loves to do.
In time I was able to move back into my apartment, regain my health and reach a point to where I could once again live independently and alone as I have been for most of my life. She and later Jerry were instrumental in getting me there.
Today I am grateful to have a very supportive sister like Sandra and close friends like Lisa and Jerry who have gone out of their way to help me. I also want to thank my other friends who helped me in their own way — Daniel and Emma, Moses and Lesley, my Big Island O’hana and those on Facebook who offered words of support and encouragement through this process.
The bottom line is this: Recovery from major surgery is not something you can do by yourself. It takes the help of very dedicated people from within your pool of family or friends to aid in your recovery. People with large families will have no problem with this. For single people like myself, it is important to have a family member or a pool of close friends who can offer help in time of need. Their assistance is invaluable.
Today with God’s blessing, I hope to be around for many years to come as I start another new year of my new life. It will be an interesting one with even more challenges ahead.
Hopefully with this entry, I will be inspired once more to kick start this blog and offer a posting at more regular intervals.
Aloha and God Bless You All.