Message From A Man’s Heart **
Around five years ago I underwent two coronary angioplasties. Two stents were put in a coronary artery that had three blockages; one 99 percent, one 90 percent and one 75 percent. On day two the same procedure was applied to a second artery that had a 75 percent blockage. Lesser blockages remained, but these were not deemed bad enough to do anything about.
The truth is my heart was being slowly deprived of nourishment (blood and oxygen) for years. As I reflected on all this after the procedures, it became clear that this condition was a physical manifestation of the fact that I was not nurturing my heart in my daily life. I was, all too often, unresponsive to its calls. My fears were obscuring its voice, so its voice became a scream, and this scream eventually forced me to act; possibly saving my physical life.
Two days after I got out of the hospital, I had an interesting experience. As I was sitting at a table in a coffee shop near my house, an African American man who appeared to be around 55 years old sat down a few tables away from me. Our eyes met and we nodded. He was carrying two flat styrofoam containers. I was all too familiar with the type of food found in these containers at this establishment, and I assumed that it was probably fried or fatty.
Suddenly I got the impression to joke with this man I didn’t know about my recent cardiac “adventures”, and to mention the dangers of eating fatty foods. In response, my mind went into “protection” mode (“you’re crazy, you’re going to offend this man, you’ll make an ass of yourself, you don’t even know the guy”, etc, etc). Something inside me, however, pushed me to override my mind’s habitual “safeguards” and I blurted out, “Gotta watch those fatty foods…I just had three stents put in my arteries”.
The man turned his head and stared. For a second I thought the habitual “protector” was right. Then he began asking me a series of questions: how old was I, what physical condition was I in, what cardiac procedures had been done to me?” etc.
Within minutes, his story began to pour out of him. He was a truck driver and he had suffered a heart attack at age 48. His truck had been parked at a stoplight and a nurse who pulled up next to him observed him going into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to a trauma center and fortunately his heart did not suffer any significant damage.
Then this man whom moments earlier I was afraid to address, looked at me and said, “I think you’re an angel”. I laughed out loud. He said “my father was a pastor and he taught me that everything happens for a reason. I think maybe God sent you to have this conversation with me”.
We laughed together about this theological possibility. I asked him how he was doing since his heart attack. He said that, with the pressures of work, his diet had deteriorated badly. (He gestured to two large slices of pizza in the styrofoam containers on the table in front of him). I asked him if still gets chest pains and, somewhat sheepishly, he replied, “occasionally”. When we parted he kept thanking me over and over and saying “God bless you”. I felt like I had just made a life long friend. Then I realized the residual soreness I had felt since the procedures had evaporated during our 20 minute conversation.
These days I take many more such “risks” and they have been working out just fine. So now I am going to take another one, and suggest that you take the time each day to listen to your heart… and to heed its calls. If you think this sounds like an advertising jingle I wont be offended. Something still beating inside me wants to give you this message.