I’m the Luckiest Man Alive – I Mustn’t Take it for Granted!

21 12 2010

Much in this blog is about my passion for an active outdoor lifestyle. If it weren’t for a few big lucky breaks, everything would be different. Or everything would have been over nineteen years ago. I met someone recently who, like a ghost, reminded me how lucky a man I am.

Each December I reflect on a near death experience I went through during the holidays in 1991. Back then I lived in Boston, MA. On Thanksgiving Day my friends all participated in a 10K “Turkey Trot” race. I was in MBA school, had a great part time job, and was headed that night to my ski house in Killington, VT for the long weekend. I had trained for this race and was really excited. But 100 yards from the finish line I suffered a brain aneurysm, fell to the ground, incurred a concussion and was rushed to the hospital.

It took the docs 24 hours to diagnose the aneurysm. My prognosis changed from “you fainted and will go home tomorrow” to “you just managed to survive a brain aneurysm where 75% die instantly, and on top of that you hit your head – that should have done you in!” And, “you have a choice – brain surgery, or no brain surgery. If you choose surgery, you may suffer permanent damage…or emerge OK and able to go back to your normal life. If you do nothing, chances are the aneurysm will rupture again, killing you. You’ll never be able to engage in activity that will raise your blood pressure for that will increases chances of a new rupture.” YIKES.

I chose surgery. I made it. I went back to school. Eventually, I went back to the ski house at Killington. Today, I kayak, backpack, exercise regularly, and have 100% use of all the parts of my body.

How lucky was I? VERY. Another 50% die within a week of a rupture, and another 50% within several months. For those who make it through those hoops, many have significantly diminished body function.

I’m writing this because the other day I met another aneurysm survivor – my first EVER. They all DIE. I was at physical therapy for a plantar fasciitis condition on my foot, and the guy on the table next to me turned out to be another brain aneurysm survivor. But even though he, too, is lucky – he lost most control of the left side of his body – and has not completely recovered since it happened in 1983. He has not been able to return to his active lifestyle. Still he was in good spirits about everything.

It was then I realized maybe I’ve taken my luck a bit for granted…a BIG wake up call…so I say here and now I am one of the luckiest people on Planet Earth. Being alive, and with all my faculties intact. That in and of itself is a gift from above. THANK YOU. Peace.


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