Throughout much of my writing life, readers have noticed that I like burying the lede. I can't help it. I like the idea of a build-up and reveal. Wow 'em in the end, and you'll have a hit.
That's not going to happen this time around, though. This lede is coming at ya, right between the ribs:
Last week, this 47-year-old, non-obese, non-diabetic non-smoker had a heart attack.
Exactly as you might expect, it came about unexpectedly, while I was on the treadmill at the gym. Further unexpectedly, I didn't feel any chest pains or waves of numbness down my left arm. I just started feeling light-headed and nauseated, and since it was 96° and the gym's AC was out, I thought I was having a heat event instead of a heart event.
It turns out, a genetically predisposed hunk of arterial plaque had ruptured and formed a clot that ruined my whole day.
The good news is that there is a lot of good news. For one, I'm home and feeling fine. I spent a day in the ICU, a day in the not-ICU, and was released a day earlier than anticipated. And all of the doctors I've seen (including my GP, whose parents probably met when I was in college) predict that, after cardiac rehab and acclimation to the mini-pharmacy I'll ingest every day for the rest of my life, I'll be better off than before.
For two, my boys were blissfully unaware of the worst of it. They were with their mom in my house, and all they saw was me conjuring my Benigni-esque best while I was attached to all those machines and drips and doodads.
For three, my older son didn't buy any of it. I've decided that he is actually Benjamin Button, 11 going on 64. Because when I got home, he asked me, "Dad, did you have any conversations with yourself while you were alone in your hospital room?"
(I'll pause a second while you take that in.)
The truth is, of course I did. About my life, my mortality, whatever legacy I'll leave. And all things considered, it's all going pretty well. I love my job, I'm a big part of my boys' life, and my ex-wife and I have patched our friendship up enough for her to move in here (and sleep on TwoBert's lower bunk, of all places) until I'm cleared to drive a car. Which could very likely be today.
Yes, I know. For someone avoiding stress, having your ex move in doesn't appear high on the priority list. But I like to think of our situation a lot like how Georgia put it: "We will always be a family of four, although without a marriage at the center of it." For that, I will always feel weirdly blessed.
And for four, this 47-year-old heart-attack survivor is going to turn 48 next week. It will be the best birthday ever.