Each month, as ASHI President, I’m supposed to share some of my thoughts about a topic of interest to members. Recently, I started thinking about writing my column about a matter that affects ASHI members, but is not usually addressed openly: our physical health and those
“little” warning signs.
Every morning, we get out of bed and start our day doing inspections and reports. Some of us might wake up with little pains and discomforts that we just push aside with the acknowledgment that, yes, we are getting older. But what happens when those little aches and pains are masking more serious conditions? What about when the paramedics have to be called and you end up being admitted to the hospital? Eventually, you might have to acknowledge that maybe you should have gone to the doctor instead of glossing over those little discomforts as being just a part of getting older.
You might be thinking, “What exactly are you getting at, Howard?”
Well, this is my story. Back in December 2015, I had a serious heart attack when I was attending a meeting at ASHI HQ. At the time, the physicians who treated me in Chicago addressed the most immediate of my conditions and referred me for follow-up treatment back home in Arizona. I took their advice, and I was in and out of various hospitals and medical offices until January 2017, when I learned that I needed major open-heart surgery.
Eight hours into what was supposed to be a “routine” four-hour bypass and valve replacement surgery, I experienced a combination of heart and kidney failure for which the surgical team had to revive me three times. Needless to say, my wife and relatives were devastated but relieved when the doctor finally informed them about the outcomes of all of this “touch and go.” All is well now—I am currently doing cardiac rehab and feeling great. I have a renewed lease on life. I never suspected that any of the medical conditions or aches and pains that I’ve had over the years would eventually lead me down the path that I recently traveled.
So, now you might be thinking, “Okay, I’m really sorry this happened to you, Howard, but what does this have to do with ASHI or with me?”
During and since my various hospital stays, I kept in contact with ASHI HQ staff. They informed me that, coincidentally, some other ASHI leaders also were experiencing serious health events. I made notes of these reports and sent messages to them with my sincere thoughts and prayers for their speedy recovery. As part of my role as ASHI President, I talk with many ASHI inspectors from several states and many of them have told me about the procedures they’ve had that have been as serious as the ones I just experienced.
I started thinking, are we, as inspectors so busy that we “poo poo” those little aches and pains that we might have for days or weeks or years as being “not that serious,” and maybe just take a couple of aspirins and ignore them? Do we attempt to convince ourselves that strokes and heart attacks only happen to other people? If so, we are kidding ourselves with such ignorance.
Some of us might say or joke, “So what? I can afford to take some time off.” But really, from a financial standpoint alone, can you be away from your business for 15 days, 30 days or, heaven forbid, more than 90 days? You know the old saying about being just “one check away from bankruptcy.” It is always a sad story when we hear of a fellow inspector who has experienced the ramifications of a major health event and the loss of family income. We sometimes might be faced with this issue at a chapter meeting when someone “passes the hat” to help out a fellow chapter member.
You might be saying, “Howard, I know this is a serious issue for you right now, but why bring this rather depressing topic to the rest of us?” I bring it up because we often take for granted that this sort of thing only will happen to someone else. I ask you to consider this: What if you are that “someone else”? Can you afford to go through such an experience? If the answer is no, what are you going to do about it? Sure, you can try to put away more savings, but my point is that your first concern should be to get a diagnosis for any potential illness by seeing a qualified physician for immediate care when you have persistent or urgent aches and pains.
Now that I’ve put this all out on the table, I ask you: What are you going to do about it? Will you dismiss your own little aches and pains as nothing to worry about? Or, will you start to raise your awareness about your own health and make an appointment to see your doctor on a routine basis?
I ask you to please keep your fellow ASHI members who are going through various, serious health events in your thoughts
and prayers. They deserve no less. Please take care.