On March 5 or 6th I was feeling burning sensations each time I exerted myself. On the 7th I went to the doctor and was immediately told to go to the emergency room to be given a Angiogram. I was scared and I intuitively knew as I went to the ER with my wife driving, that something big was about to happen. 

     Within 24 hours I was operated on and four of my arteries which were each at least 90% blocked – were cleared. The operation took around 7-8 hours during which my chest was broken open, my heart taken out and cleaned. (I don’t know exactly what the procedure was all I know is they opened my chest and fixed my heart). 

     The other day I received a breaking news alert on my phone telling me that James Gandolfini had died of a heart attack. He was only 4 years older than I am and was vacationing in Rome. 

     I thought about how blessed I have been to be given this second chance at life. I was given this chance because I was feeling the pains and I went to my Doctor. My Doctor sensed that it was not an ulcer but something more and for that I will forever be indebted to him. But the key point here is – I went to the Doctor. 

     I didn’t ignore the pain – it was really painful and scary. I went to the Doctor and within 24 hours I was admitted to what my father in law calls, “The Zipper Club.” 

     At first that kind of freaked me out – but when the news of Mr. Gandolfini hit it was then that I realized how proud I should be to be a member of this club. 

     Here for your viewing pleasure is my lifetime membership card to that club:

Lifetime Membership Card to the Zipper Club

     If I hadn’t gone to my Doctor I would have not been accepted into this club. If I had not had a Doctor who was extremely skilled and knowledgeable in his profession – I would not have been admitted. I would have simply suffered what happened to Mr. Gandolfini and been silenced.

     I think about the times when I had acid re flux in the middle of the night, I think about the times when I always felt tired and fell asleep whenever I sat down. I am not saying that those are the definitions of warning signs and that anyone with these issues should run to the doctors office. But take heed of them. 

     As I was laying in the angiogram room and was told there was blockages – I asked if it happened because I was overweight. I was quickly told, “No. It has nothing to do with it. We have athletes who are in perfect shape who come in here and are in the same position you are.” So what was it?

     A predisposition – hereditary and I guess my heart never does let go of all the things that have touched it. 

     As I read about Mr. Gandolfini and all the medical experts are saying that his death could have been avoided – I can now say I understand and that it is true. 

    I Implore you all – go for a full checkup. Get on that stress test treadmill that I was scared to go on – and get tested. Please do not put it off by saying, “Freddy was overweight (nothing to do with it), it runs in his family (not really), Freddy is under stress (who is alive that isn’t?), maybe he drank, smoked or did drugs (nope – none of that) or maybe…” There are no maybe’s. I was given this second chance by the medical teams that took care of me – blessed with the knowledge that God has given them (my belief). 

     Get checked and if you do end up joining my Zipper Club – remember that it is better to join my club than joining the 600,000 people who die each year from heart disease who are all part of another zipper club that you can all avoid joining. Again below for your viewing pleasure.

One of 600,000 people who die from heart disease each year