It’s been over a year since the heart attack I suffered while hang gliding (see the “Heart Attack 3/6/09” link on the right). In regards to flying, I did return to the skies about 6 weeks after the event, and even though I never get to fly as often as I like, I was still able to put in over 10 hours of air time during 2009. I set a personal altitude record of over 6,000 feet, and my longest flight of 2009 was about 2 hours and 20 minutes. You can see a music video of some footage I shot of that flight by clicking here. It was a fantastic day of foot-launched hang gliding at the Richmond Dale ridge (the same location where I had the heart attack) with five other Ohio Flyer pilots. Read the rest of this entry »
After a forced but thoroughly enjoyable and fruitful recuperation period I started the gradual transition back to a normal life. An appointment with my own cardiologist several weeks after the heart attack gave me the opportunity to fully explain to him the circumstances around the event. Dr. Mehta felt partly responsible for giving in to my pressure to stop taking Plavix in October 2008, but I assured him that he had fully warned me of the risk I was taking, and that the decision was one that I owned completely. He viewed the brief video of my emergency catheterization procedure about which he commented “You were one sick fellow.” Even so, Dr. Mehta said that, after a month, I could do anything I wanted to do, including flying. I should just listen to my body and quit if it said “Enough!” He also prescribed cardiac rehabilitation at the hospital near my home, which I started a few days later. Read the rest of this entry »
There are times when I think that we have too narrow of a view on the purposes of God in regards to pain, suffering, and death. Now, let me state a few disclaimers right from the start: the suffering I experienced as a result of this recent heart attack was very short-lived, and in no way do I think that this uniquely qualifies me to talk about the theological paradoxes related to human suffering. I do not claim to speak exhaustively for God on the subject, like I even know 1% of what is in His omniscient mind in regards to my own suffering or the pain of others. And I realize that many of you who may read this blog most likely have more insight and experiences than I. Nevertheless, I press on… Read the rest of this entry »
“Why don’t you give up hang gliding? It’s obviously not good for you.”
This question/comment has been offered by so many people in conversations, cards, and emails. Those who know a bit of my recent history are aware that I’ve had one other heart attack, and it took place at the flying field where we are towed into the air by an ultralight aircraft or by a stationary ground-based winch. Questioning my involvement in the sport really does make a lot of logical sense.
After the first heart attack in October 2005, my cardiologist assured me that there is nothing particular to hang gliding that would specifically promote cardiac issues more than any other sport where the participant exerts himself physically and aerobically. But, after more than 3 years of event-free living it happened again…and this time I was in the air. I’ve got to admit, the question about whether it’s safe for ME to fly was nagging at me incessantly as I lay in the hospital bed. And it was obviously bothering Donna. She knows how important flying is to me. Read the rest of this entry »
Voices in a tunnel…bright lights…I wake, open my eyes, and I’m still in the cath lab. Many times during the previous hour I had wondered if this was the end of my life. I had prayed about it, telling God that it was OK with me if it was OK with him. I just wanted my wife and family members to be fine without me. The way we have built leadership at the school where I am an administrator caused me few concerns there. Basically, I’m replaceable!
I could see that the doctor was still working on a few things, but I got the sense that the procedure was nearly finished. “How long have I been here?” I managed to ask. I really don’t recall what he said, but it wasn’t more than 30 minutes. Then I realized that I was absolutely pain free. And my attitude was bordering on euphoria. I asked the doctor what he found. Read the rest of this entry »
Working from home, I finished a 2 1/2 hour long conference call that lasted until early Friday afternoon, March 6, 2009. The plan that had been formulating in my mind for most of the week looked like it could become a reality. Several of my friends in the Ohio Flyers hang gliding club online discussion board had suggested that the conditions at the Richmond Dale ridge would be right late Friday afternoon for soaring. I spent a bit more time cleaning up some email, called a colleague at work to announce my plans to take the rest of the day off, and began loading my glider and equipment into the car. After a beautiful drive, I arrived at the ridge at about 3:45 PM. Four other pilots, John A., John D., Tom, and Craig, had already set up their wings and were waiting for the gusty winds to drop off a bit. Read the rest of this entry »