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How My Doctor’s Diagnosis and a Fatal Prognosis Changed My Life

How a Doctor's diagnosis and a fatal prognosis changed my life so I can change yoursThere's a greater purpose in store for you.

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It’s surreal that I am writing this today,  unable to do anything else at the moment.  My first thought was Oh my God, how could this be true.  Just days before, I was thinking about my copier business, a five year plan and writing about things that really don’t matter.  Just days before,  I felt really anxious, walking into my first cardiologist appointment ever. Tweet This.   It’s absolutely mind boggling to me still, that the utterance of a few words changed my outlook so profoundly.  I promise you, I’m not going to let this opportunity to go to waste.  I am sharing this, my story, to help others that may otherwise not feel inspired to find their passion.

Discovery of a Congenital Heart Defect

I’m just 52 years of age and I feel great.  I’m a bit overweight, but am very active and have always been athletic and big on doing cardio.  The only reason I was at the Doctor’s office in the first place was a routine, annual checkup.  I had no chest pain, but had noticed more frequent episodes of short windedness when I worked out hard.   You think to yourself, I’m getting older so its natural to have less endurance – I’ll just fight through the pain.  Heck, I’ve done half marathons, triathlons and lifted heavy weights, most of my life.  It all causes pain. If you’ve done any of these things, you know what its like to endure through the pain and do your best to improve. So, I figured I just needed to push myself a little harder.

It started with an EKG.  I had one of these before when I was much heavier and the test was negative – no abnormalities.  So, I wasn’t too concerned.  Then, days later I was told that the doctor wanted to run more tests.  What? I thought. More tests usually means something doesn’t appear right, doesn’t it?  It turns out my EKG was a bit off. I didn’t know how and really didn’t care.  It took no more convincing for me to say yes to more tests.  It’s scary to be told that your heart has something abnormal going on and they don’t know what it is. Immediately I scheduled an ultrasound on my chest, to get to the bottom of this.

Further Testing for the Heart

A few days later they stuck electrodes all over my chest in a dimly lit office. There was a screen, not dissimilar from the ones that are used to look at the baby inside the womb. As the technician placed the cold lubricated instrument on my chest, she didn’t seem to pay attention that I was laying there looking at her facial expressions. I couldn’t see the screen, and wouldn’t be able to figure it out anyway.  I’d probably think I was looking at a developing baby, so they spared me that entertainment.  All of a sudden, I noted a shift in here left eye.  At the same time, she abruptly moved the instrument across my chest, as though she were chasing something down.  That couldn’t be good, I reasoned. When I asked here what she saw, she just smiled and said, “just a few more minutes, stay still Eric.”

I waited nearly a week for the results. What shit that was.  Suppose, I had a real serious problem.  Have you ever been held in suspense?  Well, this was a real life drama and I was the star.  So, I get the results….but really, I don’t. That’s right. I learn enough to know they need to run more tests, but here’s the thing.  I’m told, the cardiologist will meet with me and go over all the tests at once.  I get it, sort of.  More conclusive results equals better information and they want to be sure before they frighten the hell out of me. That’s just great.

I schedule an echocardiogram and a Stress Test

In the week before my echocardiogram, I continued to write about equipment leasing and of course, went to my office as usual.  my fiancé and I discussed our thoughts and guessed at the motivations for performing these tests. What did they see?  And wouldn’t it be better to know if something were wrong, even badly wrong, than to not know? We agreed.  Anxiety is a powerful thing. I had to take sleep aids and Xanax to fall asleep.   Finally, I had the echo and a few days after that that,  the treadmill stress test. Once again, it involved electrodes and a screen that appears to have the capability of flat lining or making random spikes at any time.  I thought out loud, “what better place to have a heart attack than right in the Drs. office.”  The technician didn’t see my humor and pretended that she didn’t hear my booming voice.

It’s ironic that I found my passion to write and inspire others,  on the eve of getting the diagnosis and a fatal prognosis.

I started asking myself about a year ago, what is my passion?  I struggled with the answer that I had no passion in my life.  Yet, I couldn’t answer the question until just a few weeks ago.  Have you ever experienced something that really made you question the amazing unknowns of the mind and power of thought. Now, I am a writer and love to write.  I now have a goal of being a full time writer, instead of a businessman.  The hope and happiness this gives me is enormous. Yet, the future is a question mark.

I want you to know that whatever your own situation, mine isn’t one I would trade with you.   In my mind, I’m richer and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.  I want to live and love and help others by inspiring them.  I don’t see my situation as all that unusual. I would say I am blessed to have found my calling.

Cardiologist Diagnoses and Discusses Surgery

In spite of my worst fears, my blood pressure read 127 over 83.  My heart rate was 54, normal for me and something I often gloat about, as a sign of an aerobically well conditioned athlete.

The Dr. knocks, then slowly opens the door a crack as though he felt he was interrupting a sex session.

Hi Eric.

Hi Dr.

Looking at my chart he asks me if I have had any chest pains or shortness of breath.  “No, not really, no paid at all”.   The question was reminiscent of a recent chance meeting I had with a motorcycle cop. The first words out of his mouth – “Do you know why I stopped you”.  You know what’s coming next, regardless of your own answer.  It’s a similar deal here. I knew it wasn’t going to be great.

“Most people have three valves in their Aorta”….the main thingy that comes ___ the _____ your____.    I started to fade out as the cardiologist started “most people”, knowing that I had been put together wrong.  Really, after 52 years?

The diagnosis:  Bicuspid Aortic Valve.   Yes, I have a congenital heart defect.   The simplified version is that I was born with two valves that are like flippy things that open to let blood flow out of the heart as the heart pumps (beats).  In between beats, these things close so that blood does not flow back down into the heart.

This malformation I have is something that affects between one and two percent of the population.  The end result in my case; the real problem is that I the two way valves that I do have –  leak.   That means some of the blood that pumps out of my heart flows backward into the heart, which shouldn’t happen.  This is referred to as Aortic regurgitation.  

A Fatal Prognosis – WTF

The fact is, there is nothing I can do about this and nothing I should do about this.  Not now, anyway.  The doctor explained that the risk reward is too great to do anything now. He also said there’s not a single surgeon in the US who would operate on me.

You have to experience the impact of the most unimaginable information being laid on you, to truly appreciate it.  Remember, how I explained that I found my passion and discovered that I want to make an impact on others by writing.  I really meant it and hope you feel that I have in some small way affected you.  Remember this paragraph:

“I want you to know that whatever your own situation, mine isn’t one I would trade with you.   In my mind, I’m richer and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.  I want to live and love and help others by inspiring them.   I don’t see my situation as all that unusual. I would say I am blessed to have found my calling.”

Tweet This   Absolutely.

In the first paragraph, I stated:  ‘I promise you, I’m not going to let this opportunity to go to waste.  I am sharing this, my story, to help others that may otherwise not feel the inspiration to discover their passion.”

Everything I’ve told you is Verifiably True

During this several weeks of testing that I went through, I had been culling the internet and following some great writing talent.   One such writer attracted my attention.  Bear in mind, I had no knowledge of  Jon Morrow before I subscribed to his blog.  But then, I read this post he wrote about how to write a post and get 1 million readers.

Immediately, I was captivated with the thought of one million readers. Jon has a way of hanging you in suspense for the next step.  Really, its an amazing technique performed by a master when Jon Morrow does this thing that he does.

The confession that I have to make is that I’m not dying.  At least not now.  The cardiologist told me that I won’t need surgery for another 10 years or more.  Heck, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, let alone ten years.  Even then,  the surgical procedure for replacing heart valves has an impressive track record.  I do have a pretty unusual thing going on and can’t strain anymore, but I’m otherwise fit as a fiddle for 52.

Jon Morrow is really the one I want you to meet.  My diagnosis, is simply a reminder of how fragile and vulnerable we are to potential bad news.  However, the fatal prognosis that changed my life so I can change yours is in Jon Morrows post:


                 “How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World”


If you don’t read anything else, read Jon Morrow’s Post.   It will put my story above into proper perspective, but

most importantly, reading Jon’s story will put your life into perspective.  It truly changed my view and inspired me to make light of my own situation.  You may have thought I was talking about my own mortality, but that was by design.  I really wanted you to get the full experience by reading my own story with Jon’s.

Anybody who reads How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World  will be changed, themselves.  There is simply no way you can read this an not be moved.  I’m not going to ruin it for you.  It’s an easy read that will take you less time to read than this post of mine.

I consider Jon Morrow a brilliant teacher.  I’ve never met Jon, in person, but definitely have that on my bucket list.  If you’re a writer yourself, I hope you will learn something special from reading his article.  If you comment to me and tell me you want Jon’s information to his current blog, I’ll gladly forward it to you. He wrote the post I want you to read, as a guest blogger for a very successful blog.  Imagine a million reads of a post you wrote as a guest blog.  Wow!





About the author

Eric Klee

My name is Eric Klee. I've been in the equipment leasing and service business since my first professional job in 1984, in Saginaw Michigan. I've owned several small businesses, including two copier companies. I presently own Digicor, inc., an independent copier sales, service and leasing compay I began in 2000. I call Tampa Bay, Florida home, having moved here from Flushing Michigan in 1989.

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