As I mentioned last week, I just returned from a few days in New York City where my family and I celebrated my 10-year anniversary of my successful open-heart surgery. Ten years ago almost to the day, the surgery was performed by the now TV celebrity, Dr. Mehmet Oz, at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.
Since surgery, we have returned few times during this part of the calendar year remembering just how precious the gift of life is. I will share an excerpt from a part of my future book describing the moment everything changed in an instant.
"I shared with Cindy what my cardiologist friend had said, so we immediately headed over to the clinic where his office was located. As we walked in, there were employees beginning to gather their things and walk out the door, but one told us to go straight on back. As we made our way through the hallway thinking we were headed toward one of the now vacant patient rooms, someone motioned for us to turn the opposite direction and led us directly into the doctor's personal office.
"As we entered the office, there were two chairs set across his desk, but facing us, and the front door. The nurse told us to take a seat, that the doctor would be with us in just a minute. She was right, as soon as had we taken our seats, Mike came in the door holding a clipboard, staring at it with such intensity that it added to the overall concerning atmosphere that had all of sudden been created in my world.
"Mike was very professional, and took his work very seriously. He was well known throughout the Southwest as one of the top Cardiologists in the area.
"He walked in with his white lab coat still on from the day and slowly approached us, still looking at the reports in his hands. He appeared very concerned like he was trying to accurately word the message he so desperately needed to deliver. "Jeff, I don't know how to tell you this, but your mitral valve has been blown through, and blood is free flowing through the chambers of your heart ... This is causing your heart to get larger and larger, and quite frankly it could explode. This is happening very quickly and you may not have much time left, you need to get your affairs in order." He indicated that he would get me on a hospital plane in the morning, and they would fly me to Lubbock, Texas where they (whoever that is) would do an exploratory surgery to try and save my life. Easy math was simple ... I may only have 24 hours to live.
Hearing the news was dramatic, but the days, months, and even now years that followed have taught me so much more. Life is a very special gift. We must not take it for granted, nor the opportunity to make a difference for others (Galatians 6:10).
Jeffrey Smith, a business consultant, is a national speaker and writes on the topic of leadership. His experience, as president and CEO of a publicly traded financial company, has given him a strong foundation from which to share.
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