I’m Dying (and so are you)

I completed my yearly physical at Baptist Primary Care last Monday. The Doctor poked and prodded for about twenty minutes. Unfortunately, I received unexpected news. At 43, it is very clear that I am dying. Don’t feel bad for me. You are too. No matter your age, you slowly trudge away from the cradle each day and begrudgingly closer to the grave.

In diseased states we use terms like, “battle” and “fight” and “win the war,” yet everyone is on the same life path. A healthy person makes the same trek in slower motion. At best, health provides the fleeting resource of fresh, open air to breathe and an opportunity to engage with life; it’s up to you if you use the resource. At worst, there is a delusional expectation of infinite tomorrows; it’s a crushing complacency.

As for my health, I’m trying to do the right things. I focus on the holy triumvirate of health: diet, exercise and sleep. I’ve lost twenty-five pounds. My forty-three year old self would decimate my eighteen year old self in  a decathlon. Heck, I’m in bed by 9 pm almost every night to ensure I sleep seven. And, even if I’m not in bed, I’m probably asleep wherever I’m sitting or standing after 9 pm. Just as you can’t out-train a poor diet, you can’t ignore the impact of genetics. It’s another great reminder that we don’t do life alone. Your parents will always be by your side.

I peered over the shoulder of my doctor. It was clear that my EKG looked different than the last two samples taken from previous physicals. I’m not a cardiologist – and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express – and yet I could clearly see a difference. In a whirl, my Doctor threw out fancy medical terminology exercising her robust training – and certainly in an effort to bill my insurance the maximum possible. My hearing must have been intermittent for the thirty seconds after she said, “I don’t like this at all. We’re going to send you for a stress test.” I swear she followed that statement with something like, “There’s seems to be an LVH with an extra side of cheese, hold the fries, ventricle working too hard, not sure how insurance will handle, 1.21 gigawatts.” And, so off I was referred for a stress test with ECG.

William Wallace Intrudes

For eight days, I felt like William Wallace rode in my nose while I was sleeping and took up a battleground position in my stomach. My insides fought an epic war of doubt and positivity. My mind wandered and wrote the story that hadn’t happened! My internal dialogue game was strong:

“I’m dying.”
“Quit being stupid, you’re going to be fine.”
“Okay, but I’m going to have to stop working out if it’s hurting my heart. Then I’m going to get fat. Do you want to get unhealthy again?”
“Quit being stupid.”
“Seriously, I saw the test. Something is seriously wrong. Did you see that change?”
“Ok, Dr. Macnamara. I’m glad you’ve gone to medical school and are self-diagnosing.”
“I think I just felt a twinge in my heart. Did you feel that?”
“Shush. You ate too much at lunch. You’re fine.”

For eight days, the exhausting and annoying verbal joust continued…

Crystal Clear Why

I’ve focused on my health because my why is so crystal clear: family drives me. I have a wife I love beyond all measure. I have two amazing children who make me laugh, swell with enormous pride and frustrate the shit out of me. I believe love = family. And, my family is everything to me. My family inspires me to do more and give more. My work here isn’t finished.

I passed my stress test. I may be dying, but I don’t think it’s today. I think.

As it was explained, there are two reasons for my EKG to change the way it did. First, as my Doctor thought, my heart was under duress and having to work too hard. She was 100% right to investigate further. Or, as in my case, my work to improve my fitness changed my reading. My heart is strong. I made it to the end of the stress test. Upside? It was pretty cool to see my heart pumping away on the screen.

Small Sample

As my Dad shared with me when I explained my test results to him, “Great news, son. You know, I had a friend and he was moving up at a large company, so they had him take a physical. Perfect health.” I sat quietly on the phone awaiting the punch line. “Two days later he died of a heart attack.”

Uh, thanks Dad? Your timing is always impeccable. But, the message is understood: life is not guaranteed.

They say, “You only live once.” It isn’t true. It’s a myth. Most people only die once because they never start living. They never figure out what they want from life. And so, they blow like a leaf in the wind.  Disillusioned and angered by life. Never making an impact. Wondering why life hasn’t surrendered to their unidentified purpose and goals.

I’ve spent my life serving people and helping people succeed. If you want to live a fulfilled life, get clear on your vision and values. When you do, you will unlock a world and level up your life beyond your imagination. Promise.

Yes, I Cried

As the Doctor and nurses left the room, I allowed myself a brief moment of emotional relief. I channeled my Jim Valvano, “Three Things for a full day.” I evicted William Wallace and his army of men from my belly. And, in good, Jerry Mac fashion, I cried a little in the hospital towel meant to dry my sweaty body. It was a full day.

I’m dying. It’s just not today. So, I’m back to getting busy living.

I hope you do too.

Love you.

Random Quote

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

— Goethe


  1. Beautifully written, I’m thankful for you passion to be better! It’s motivating, rare and appealing! I love you ❤️

  2. Jerry A. Macnamara, Sr. says:

    That starts as soon as you leave the womb son, so work hard, stay fit, have fun and love your family and yourself.

  3. Zack Kelley says:

    Get busy living’ OR get busy dying’. It’s your choice!
    Carpe Diem!

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