Before my heart incident, I only heard about heart attacks while talking to my parents. It was mainly something that happened to the grandparents or friends of my parents, and it felt so far removed from my daily activities.
As I grew older and had colleagues and acquaintances slightly older than me, I did start to encounter more heart stories. But, I always attributed these with people who had lived on the “wild” side, eating and drinking too much, no exercise and basically poor lifestyles.
Today is a different story.
I regularly meet people at the office or in social circles who have been affected by heart-related issues. Either themselves, close friend or relatives. It seems so much more common.
On our recent travels to Ireland, I was seated next to a young girl (early twenties) who was traveling to Ireland to hang out with her college friends … probably get hammered during the Paddy Day parade, throw up all over O’Connell Street and miss all the wonderful sites in Dublin. Might even bump into some of her long lost Irish relatives who fled to the US during the Great Famine. You know, like Tom Cruise did in Far And Away.
Anyway, we didn’t really talk much to start with. I find it odd to just strike up a conversation with a stranger, especially a young woman. She probably felt the same and praying the older bearded dude next to her would not start to talk to her.
It was only 20 minutes after takeoff when we encountered some light turbulence. With my recent heart issues and anxiety about my first flight for several months, I probably displayed some nervous flyer behaviors; grasping the armrest heard, looking at the flight map on the screen as if I could force the plane to reduce turbulence with my stare and some profound sweating.
She gently touched my hand and asked if I was ok, and when I looked at her she was displaying the exact same symptoms. We were both slightly nervous about the bumps. Probably the only two people on this packed plane that were nervous. It was our moment together – we connected 🙂
I calmly explained the I was nervous about flying since it was my first flight after my heart incident. She responded that her dad had a heart attack (twice) within the last two years, which had shaken their family a lot. Not too sure if she meant that I was as old as her dad!
Bingo! We suddenly had something in common and we started chatting. She was curious about heart failure and how I was coping. She listened intensely as I talked about my lifestyle changes and how I had recovered.
She shared some personal feelings she went through with her dad, and how hard it was to really understand what was actually happening and how to help him with his recovery.
I think we both shared stories we both learned from each other. It also helped us get distracted from the turbulence, and 30 minutes later we both calm, smiling and turbulence had stopped.
So, what can we learn from this encounter on a plane?
You meet people all over that have some heart story and who have been affected by heart stories. If you take a few moments to interact with people on the bus, plane or other places, then you will hear amazing heart stories. And, you will be able to learn from those encounters and they will learn from you too.
It’s amazing how much we can learn if we take a moment away from our phones. We are too consumed with socializing on various social platforms and need to get back to the 70s and 80s where we actually talked to each other.
Thank you to the very friendly young lady sitting next to me, and for sharing her story.