For some reason I have always thought I would die young. I was surprised to reach 30, amazed to reach 40, stunned to be 50 ….but will I reach 60??
The jury’s out.
After a lifetime of drinking too much, eating all the wrong things, and driving fast cars at the limit of my driving skills…. it would appear that my ‘lifestyle’ is catching up with me.
Last Tuesday night I was awoken at 1.45am by what I thought was indigestion. The pain worsened pretty much central in my chest and I felt clammy and nauseous. This ‘clamminess’ triggered the thought that maybe I was having a heart attack. I tried to wake up my wife who was deeply asleep in her other bedroom (*Note – we had been sleeping separately due to my irregular sleep patterns and heavy snoring).
Eventually she woke up but refused to believe that what I thought was a heart attack was anything more than discomfort caused by a combination of cheese and single malt just before bed.
She went downstairs to make a cup of tea whilst I sat on the edge of the bed in agony. After a few minutes I asked if she had called the ambulance – she advised that her tea hadn’t fully brewed yet and she would make the call once the required quality of flavour had been achieved.
By this time I was on the floor.
To cut a long story short – top score for the NHS – YOU ARE AMAZING… EVERY ONE OF YOU – ambulance/Thameside Hospital/Wythenshaw Hospital /surgery/stent/hospital/more surgery/more stents/ then home ….with more pills than you would believe.
The diagnosis was that the pain was being caused by a blocked artery. The ‘plaque’ that was thickening the artery had broken away and cause a complete blockage in one of the two main in-flowing sections of my heart….this was the cause of the pain. The emergency procedure was to insert a stent into the artery which was inflated by a small balloon then put in place to keep the flow unrestricted.
The other artery was a more complex procedure involving three further stents put in place whilst I lay perfectly still for two hours – whilst wide awake watching what they were doing on a large monitor beside my bed.
On recovery and returning to the public ward I was visited by a series of advisers who talked to me about what had caused the issues and how I should be making changes to make sure this didn’t happen again.
So …the main thing that everyone’s been saying to me – doctors and rehab advisors – is that I need to…. ‘change my lifestyle…’
Reduce the stress. Change the diet. Cut out the booze. Learn how to relax.
Hmmmm – so …a complete overhaul of Mr Clough is on the cards.
The booze I can cut out – I’ve done it before – I did a four-month stint earlier this year just to prove to myself that I could. The diet I can do, I’ve always been able to give things up. It’s a mindset thing – once I’ve said to myself that I’m not eating a particular food – I just stop.
I’m not quite so good at just ‘reducing’ the amount of something that I have – but if I give it up – it’s do-able.
The other ‘life’ changes are going to be the challenge – ‘stress’ is what running a business seems to thrive on?? I seem to find myself in work environments where aggressive competition is the name of the game.
Adopting a ‘laissez faire’ attitude whilst running a business will quickly have you in a situation where you have no work. If you aren’t first with the price and are the most competitive – then you just won’t get a look in. You have to be quick, you have to be sharp and you need to be 100% on the ball when you run a company that works in the construction industry.
At the moment I just can’t imagine how I can adopt a ‘relaxed’ attitude to this part of my life. The reason I’ve been successful with my business is down to my being aggressively on the ball from the minute I wake up – until the minute I go to sleep.
This is where I think the damage has probably been done….:-/ …(*OK maybe this combined with drinking too much, eating too much red meat and dairy and having a sedentary lifestyle sat behind my desk or driving between meetings).
Constant pressure to perform – constant pressure to be the best I can be has just worn me down.
Apparently I have the arteries of a heavy smoker even though I’ve never had a cigarette in my life.
I’ve had my ‘wake-up’ call, I’ve had the warning shot fired over my head – it’s now up to me to make the difference and make the changes required to enable me to see 60.
I’m going to give it my best shot – starting with getting a holiday booked. Maybe a bit of time in the sun without any work will do me the power of good.
Maybe, just maybe…. if I do this on a regular basis I might just start to like it.