Saturday, August 28, 2021, started out like most Saturdays, with a pot of tea and a bowl of cereal and a list of chores to accomplish. My first stop was the post office; packages in the mail, I was headed back home when suddenly I felt very “off.” My entire body began trembling uncontrollably, my head started throbbing and the left side of my face went numb. I made it home, pulled into the driveway, and alerted my son, who drove me straight to the hospital.
As one might guess, I was treated as a stroke patient and ended up spending the night in the hospital. The official diagnosis was transient ischemic attack, or TIA – a “ministroke,” if you will. The good news is all the test results came back negative, and the neurologist I met with several days said that other than a few vitamin deficiencies I appeared to be in excellent health; she suggested that the likely cause of the episode was stress.
I couldn’t argue. I had spent the summer writing new music and recording three new solo piano albums, had just embarked on a new teaching year during a global pandemic, and had recently learned that my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer with just weeks left to live. For many of us, stress has become a way of life. But for whatever reason, on August 28, 2021, my body said, “Enough.”
After I got home, I had hefty price tag of the hospital visit to add to my stress. I am self-employed with no health insurance – although I had been paying into a health share for several years, believing that the health share was a reasonable substitute for insurance, which turned out not to be the case. Shortly after I arrived at the emergency room, while I was alone and afraid and under the influence of a “migraine cocktail,” someone from the business office came in with her laptop and convinced me to put an initial $8000 payment on a credit card so that I would receive a 46% “self-pay discount” for my total bill – which in the end, amounted to over $35,000.
Unfortunately, I did not qualify for financial aid, and even with my “discount,” I owed the hospital an additional $7000 or so when it was all said and done, in addition to a handful of doctor bills. Thankfully, I was able to finance the balance through a special program at zero percent interest over three years; I am also thankful that the doctors were willing to work with me as well, allowing me to pay the same “adjusted rates” that insurance companies pay.
With careful budgeting, it will take me a minimum of three years to eliminate all this new debt. Clearly, our health care system is broken. But I digress.
Something positive DID come from all of this. I am committed to improving my health and well-being above all else in this New Year, and have chosen “wellness” as my guiding word for 2022. The way I see it, “wellness” is a pie cut into eight pieces, as follows.
I have written three SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based) in each of these areas to keep me on track over the weeks and months ahead – because, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s setting goals and seeing them to fruition. Unfortunately, my tendency is to put work FIRST and everything else LAST (or not at all). People have asked me how I accomplish so much in a day, and it’s mostly because I work ALL THE TIME. But it is clear to me that this is going to have to change if I’m going to live a long, healthy, AND productive life.
Don’t die with your music still in you. ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer