It was a beautiful summer day and a less-than-average round of golf. Average, perhaps, for me, just not average in terms of keeping me from hearing suggestions like: 'Hey, ever think of taking up bowling'?

It was nearly 22 years ago, I was in my 30's, married with young children, and finding out that I had heart disease was the furthest thing from my mind. Well, perhaps turning pro in golf was further, but not by much. I noticed when I got home from my day of golf and shame, that not only was I feeling disappointed in having lost three sleeves of new golf balls in the waters of Apple Tree Golf Course, I also noticed my chest was causing me pain.

The pain was unusual, that is, an unfamiliar sort of a pain to me - and I wasn't sure what was causing it. Could have been muscular after having swung the golf club wildly too many times. It could have been a pinched nerve. As I look back, I've come to the conclusion that the pain was likely obvious to me on some level but good old-fashioned denial set in. I mean, I didn't have time to be having a heart attack.

Fortunately, my wife didn't settle for my repeated answer of 'no' at her urging me to go into the ER and get checked out. She called a family friend who's experienced in the cardiac area of medicine. He came over, looked me in the eye, and said: 'I'm taking you to the hospital, now.. Let's go.' We did. And as Martha Stewart is wont to say, 'It's a good thing'.

No heart attack that day, but one coronary artery was 95% blocked and occluding fast. I underwent angioplasty, had a stent placed, and began my relationship with a cardiologist.

Thirteen years later, following shoulder surgery, my body decided to launch a blood clot towards my heart and, this time, I didn't avoid the heart attack. Fortunately, there was no damage to my heart, but the next day, my heart became home to four more stents.

Now, that was eight years ago, and thus far I've been blessed to have had no further heart incidents. However, I don't want to push my luck - and I believe luck has very little to do with anything - and I realize I need to do much better going forward to do much more to improve my overall health and actively guard against further trouble.

This year, I'm endeavoring to lose a substantial amount of extra weight and get back in the swing of regular exercise, including golf. I strongly recommend that anyone who's considering adopting a healthier lifestyle not put it off and go for it while you can.

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