Have your days tip-toed past in a blur of should-do, must-do, and I can’t? Or have you grabbed each day by the horns and rode that day with gusto and enjoyed the ride? Life is too short to live days filled with nothing but shoulds and musts and can nots. Do what you love now. What? You say you’ve heard all that. You plan to do what you love…later? Let me tell you a story.
Last September my husband had a cardiac event. It wasn’t his first or second or third.
Heart Attack vs Cardiac Event
In a heart attack, there’s a sudden blockage of an artery inside the heart. The heart muscle can’t get the oxygen it needs and it beats irregularly and inefficiently or it stops beating.
In a cardiac event, one of the arteries to the heart gets more and more narrow reducing the blood flow to the heart. The symptoms come on gradually, insidiously. The heart gets twitchy—sometimes beats regularly and sometimes not.
In both a heart attack and a cardiac event, doctors must open that artery back up so that the heart muscle gets the blood flow and oxygen it needs to function.
Last September, I sat in the waiting room for the Cardiac Lab while they took my husband back for his thirty-minute procedure. After about fifteen minutes I heard an overhead page, “Code Blue in Cath Lab One.” I did not know what room my husband was in, but I heard that page and I knew it was my husband.
I sat there for an hour, petrified, waiting for word. I could have gotten up and gone to the receptionist and asked her for information but I didn’t want to know for sure. Then the doctor came out and sat next to me.
My husband’s heart had gone into a bad rhythm. They did CPR—chest compressions and pulmonary resuscitation. They got him back and it happened again. More CPR. And they revived him again. They put a stent in the artery and stopped the procedure. His heart was too unstable to do all the repairs he needed.
But this story isn’t about September. This story is about this past Friday. My husband had another cardiac event. It turns out that the artery they put the stent in closed again. This time he had only 10-20% of the blood passing through the artery. The doctor asked us if we wanted him to try to fix it again. It would be risky.
Hubby decided he didn’t want to continue to live the invalid life he’d had to live for the past seven months. A fifty-fifty chance of dying vs living in better health was a reasonable risk to him. You see, my husband has lived a life of doing what he loves. He loves drawing illustrations, and racing cars, and creating things, and living life out loud.
So on Friday before Easter, I sat in the Cardiac Cath Lab waiting room again. I took my laptop (as I always do) and tried to work. That lasted for about ten minutes.
I drank coffee. Lots of coffee.
I tried to watch television (a home improvement show.)
Thirty minutes ticked past. That stretched into sixty minutes, then ninety. Two hours. I was antsy, ready to get up and demand information when two women came in. One of the women was distraught, crying and sobbing. She kept saying “we’re not that old” and other things, personal things. The second woman, a hospital staff member, tried to comfort the woman and helped her contact other family members.
The tears I’d been holding back started. After a few minutes, I managed to get myself under control and went to the desk.
The receptionist called the back rooms. She told me that my husband was on his way to the recovery room. A nurse would be out to take me to him in a few minutes. And she was. My wait was over.
My husband’s story ended well. This time the doctors were able to clean out most of the blockages and put in four stents to try to keep it open. I don’t know how the other woman’s husband did. I hope he survived.
Why did I tell you all this? Because while I did not want to lose my husband that day, I was at peace with his decision. I had friends and family praying for us but more, I knew he’d lived the life he wanted to live. And since I’ve known him, I’ve lived my life intentionally. I’ve made choices I wanted to make. I live the life I want to live now.
I don’t know how the other, younger woman’s husband lived but I could hear the regrets in the woman’s voice.
You might not be able to avoid every should or must or can’t, but don’t live by those. What if you don’t have another day? Would you regret not finishing the should or must? What if there is no “later?” What would happen if you changed can’t into can? Isn’t it worth the risk?
Don’t lose the life you want minute by minute. Don’t live with regrets. Life is too short. Be with who you love now. Do what you love now. Live life out loud. Or if you’re an introvert, live it quietly, but don’t wait. Live the life you want NOW.