No matter what sort of earth-shattering events may be afoot, believe me when I say that there is vastly more important stuff in life than gadgetry.
You see, around this time last year I paid a relatively short but quite uniquely memorable visit to the nearest emergency room, and things have changed quite a bit since:
- I now walk at least 1Km every day to the office (which includes climbing 6 floors via a few flights of stairs and ramps)
- I exercise once a week, every week (nearly ready to upgrade to twice a week)
- I try to sleep 8 full hours a night (instead of my previous average of 5)
- I gave up on coffee, tea, any kind of soda beverages, or alcohol (which wasn’t much of a problem, since the only thing I imbibed regularly was expresso)
- I no longer work well into the evenings or let myself be driven into a frenzy by office issues.
Besides a bunch of medication and exams, I got to carry around for a good while the beginnings of a couple of ulcers – sad remainders of entirely too much work-related stress, irregular sleeping habits and an overall frustration with what I was doing at the time.
And although I’m certainly better (and a smidgeon afraid of jinxing things by writing so), it hasn’t been fun. As anyone who took beta blockers, blood thinners and anti-acid medication will know, there is a certain degree of mental and physical adjustment to be made, since you:
- Feel tired most of the time
- Have all sorts of unnerving aches
- Tend to wake up in the middle of the night with odd chest/stomach pains (the kind that you can only figure out after being alarmed by them)
- Start paying an altogether unhealthy amount of attention to your own heartbeat
- Invariably end up losing concentration and focus
Which is, to put it mildly, kind of a drag. Although I could hold my own during work hours, my hobbies (photography, Yaki, this site, etc.) were out of focus for a good while, since I was concentrating on relaxing when I got home instead of spending yet more hours sitting at a computer.
Nothing like health to bring your priorities into focus, I guess.
The turning point was also somewhat hard to come by. No matter how rational you are, it isn’t until you start pushing yourself up to 140bpm on an exercise bike and seeing exams come out OK that you realize things are manageable.
The icing on the cake, however, is hearing your cardiologist say “OK, we’re going to get you off those now – just stick to an aspirin a day”.
That was pretty big, especially for someone like me who abhors any kind of medication and had had the good fortune of never being seriously ill.
There were, of course, upsides. For instance, my return to Marketing helped tremendously.
Although I was immediately involved into what may well have been one of the toughest things I did yet, I was able to get rid of all that stress and frustration by working it off while pacing myself carefully.
Thanks to that change, a whole set of motivation neurons lit up to help keep things going. But there was quite a bit more besides:
- I started learning Mandarin in earnest (a great way to clear your head and learn humility)
- I lost enough weight to be able to wear ten-year-old suits again
- I trained myself into taking a break every hour or so, get up, going over and talking to people directly (which is a tremendously effective way to defuse any sort of stress and solving issues)
- I don’t use lifts anymore unless it’s more than three floors or so
- I really, but really tune out from work when I leave the office
And although I don’t really feel I’m out of the woods yet (I had another little thing out of the blue one Sunday morning, again most likely due to a bit of deferred stress), things are looking up – my stomach problems seem to be mostly gone and I’m more clear-headed, calm and collected.
Well, provided my heart was up to dealing with the shock, of course.
Just kidding – I’m positive it is. Now I just want to make sure it stays that way for the next few years.