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Appreciate every day. Laugh lots.

Appreciate every day. Laugh lots.

“Find Ecstasy in life. The mere sense of living is joy enough. – Emily Dickinson

I have always been on “Fast Forward” it’s my default setting. Even as a kid I never stopped moving. Back in the day I would have been diagnosed as ADH. They never had a term for it back then. The teachers just said that I lacked focus and concentration. To be honest, I just found school slow and boring.

I find life exciting, seeking out the highs of life…minus the drugs. A long time ago I discovered my passion is overcoming challenges. The more difficult or scary, the more it captured my attention. Rationally it does not make sense. Having gone through boarding school and the army, pain even becomes your friend. No pain no gain, right? Dr. G, my nutritionist told my wife: “Ralph’s personality is to embrace pain, its 100% or nothing.” That is probably why I enjoyed marathons, triathlons, mountain climbing and working for myself. One must endure pain for long periods, it challenges the mind.

This summer we had all our plans laid out for a fun few weeks of travel: Las Vegas then Europe. Well, except that is when life has a way of reminding you “who is in control.” Two days before we left for Las Vegas for the weekend, out of the blue, I start to feel dizzy. My body was aching all over and I just had no energy. For me that’s not normal. A little discomfort isn’t going to stop me, so we still flew off to Vegas to meet our friends and have a blast. Not really, I felt terrible the whole time. I just hung in there with a brave face. In fact, each day I felt worse, and by Sunday I had tingling sensation up and down my arms, chest and was in real pain. I got ice packs and put them over my whole body. My wife called a few friends and they all suggested going to Hoag Hospital as soon as we got back to Orange County. After all, we were leaving for Europe Monday morning.

In the taxi and on the way to the airport, I suddenly felt violently-sharp pains going up and down my left side and was clutching my chest. I told the driver to take me to the closest hospital. For the first time in my life I seriously thought I was going to die. I certainly didn’t want it to happen in a taxi on the way to the Emergency Room.The thought that went through my mind at that time was “why did I worry about such stupid stuff?” We hear it all the time, but this time it sunk in: Life is short, life is short, life is short. I did not want it to be over.

I was rushed straight to the EKG machine, and then a CAT scan and Enzyme blood work. Five hours later and a double round of tests, they said I did not have a stroke, my heart looks good, but, that’s no guarantee. Perfect.

I still went on my vacation, for the first time in my life I didn’t really enjoy the trip. Because I still felt pain over my body and had Vertigo. During the trip, I made sure that I appreciated every moment with my family, every meal. The petty issues were just that, petty and a waste of time. Since returning I am slowly starting to feel better. The doctors can’t really tell me what caused it. Maybe it was my body telling me that I’m pushing it to much and need to slow down. I’m still training, but not in beast mode. I’m working but leaving early.

What’s my take away? Don’t waste time stressing over stupid issues. Laugh more, play more, read more, sleep more. Tell your friends and family how much you love and appreciate them. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.

“The man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discover the value of life.”– Charles Darwin

Ralph Harris