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June 27, 2016

Every Step You Take


by jim richmond
It was hot today -- 89 -- as I took 10,093 steps around the Leila Arboretum trail. Each step a bit painful from sore ankles, but each step literally, consciously appreciated.
My life. My appreciation of life has changed so much.
Nearly 4 years ago, I died 6 times. 5 in the ICU at Bronson Battle Creek Hospital. With my two sons-- who had been called in -- wide-eyed watching.
I knew they were wide-eyed, because the shock paddles brought me back from death's door five times that afternoon.
I felt literally my heart stop, and faintly heard someone yelling "CLEAR!" as they applied the shock paddles that raised my body an inch off the bed, and restarted my heart.
It continued to happen. And in brief milli-moments of consciousness, I thought to myself: "Jim, you're not going to make it."
But I did. And the next day, they wheeled me down the elevator, across the hallway to a room where they put electrodes all over my head.
And during the procedure -- with the attendant out of the room -- I went "code blue" again.
Luckly, I was still connected to telemetry monitors in the ICU room in the adjoining building. Which evidently alerted staff.
I remember little else. Except waking to this sea of huge faces bending over me, as this doctor thumped my chest, and then, applied portable shock paddles.
So they rushed to install a $25,000 pacemaker running electrodes from under the skin near my top left shoulder down into my heart.
And after several years of other health problems, "I'm back."  Thanks a good deal to a generous, patient employer who has put up with, tolerated two or three of my set backs.
I am nearing 72. At work. Walking 3 to 5 miles. And enjoying every step I take each day.
The experience changed, softened me to people, hardened me to those who want to argue, complain or criticize others or life.
Each step today is a gift. Because I know my next one might be -- like yours -- the last one.

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