Wear Red And Take Action
Three years, four months, one week and four days ago, a massive cardiac arrest took Bill from me. It was sudden, ugly, painful…and yet, not completely unexpected.
Bill had his first heart attack in his late 30s. He had heart history on both sides of his family for at least two generations. I knew this. His heart condition hit home in the early hours of one morning while we were dating when a nurse from a hospital in Iowa called and asked if I knew William Reznikov. As I shook the sleep out of my head, I realized she was talking about Bill Reznikov…my Bill. It seems he had had a heart attack overnight while on a business trip. So I knew. I knew the future risks I faced if I married Bill, but I loved him so much that I couldn’t imagine my life without him.
Heart disease, stroke and related medical issues have killed or seriously impacted the lives of many of my friends and family members. Some issues are genetic and can’t be prevented…but medical research has come so far in the last 20-30 years. The treatment Bill received from highly skilled medical professionals was first-class treatment. In the 20+ years that we were together, the medical advances in cardiac care increased significantly and Bill benefited greatly from them. I believe that in the next 10 years or so, people will be successfully treated for the heart condition Bill died from because of the research that is happening now.
Since heart disease doesn’t care about age, gender, socio-economic status, or just about anything else, please consider doing the following things for those who love you:
- Take care of yourself. I’m not saying you have to spend hours in the gym and only eat “clean” food. All I can suggest is that you at least do what I’m doing and take one step at a time towards better health. Each of those little things add up to a healthier you. And if you mess up today, don’t dwell on it and think that you failed. Forgive yourself (everyone makes mistakes and has moments of weakness) and recommit to getting back on track.
- Make sure your medical, financial and legal situations are in order.
- Get a regular check up and talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your health. No question is too embarrassing or trivial for your doctor when it comes to your health; if it turns out to be nothing to be concerned about, isn’t that a relief that there’s one less thing to worry about?
- Set aside some money each week or each month for your emergency fund. Even with insurance, there are so many things that you will have to pay for out of pocket. Financial planners say no matter what the emergency, you should have at least three to six months of funds available – every dollar, quarter, penny you save puts you that much closer to your savings goal.
- Now one of the things no one seems to want to talk about – your will (and other related legal documents). Most people don’t want to make a will or complete a living will or power of attorney because they feel somehow talking about death makes it more real, and possible. Think of these documents as for the living, not the dead. You may have millions or you may have just a few things, but you do have some possessions and some money. A will helps ensure that those who should receive them, do receive them. (And establishing guardianship for your children is critical.) Your living will outlines what kind of medical treatment you do and don’t wish to receive in case you can’t speak for yourself. And a power of attorney document directs who you want making decisions when/if you are unable to do so. Clarity of your wishes makes times of crisis much easier. Think of it as a loving gift to your family and friends. Make it this year’s Valentine’s Day gift.
- If you are able, donate some of your time, talent or funds to the American Heart Association, your local hospital or your nearest medical school, or any of the hundreds of associated groups that assist those with heart disease and their families. This is one of those situations where every donation helps. We asked that tributes to Bill be made to the Heart Center at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as our thanks to the medical and support team who spent so many hours taking care of Bill and our family.
Nothing is going to make my family whole again. Bill’s death will impact the rest of our lives. I just hope this frank, open and heart-felt appeal makes a difference in your life.