THE WIDOWMAKER: HEART ATTACKS ARE ENTIRELY PREVENTABLE

By Terry Carter and Steve Rogers

More than 600,000 Americans die annually due to heart attacks. For more than 30 percent of them, their fatal cardiac arrest was their first event, according to a hard-hitting Netflix documentary airing now.

Does heart disease run in your family or a friend’s family? If so, find “The Widowmaker” on Netflix and learn what some physicians may not be sharing with you about prevention and a coronary artery scan for calcium. Additionally consider that heart attacks and strokes are completely preventable if you take the right steps, cardiologists say.

Some solutions, however, are not included in the documentary. I will explain later.

The 600,000 number exceeds the number of annual deaths from all cancers combined. Millions of lives have been lost while heart disease testing and treatments have improved. According to the documentary, about one-third of heart attack patients are asymptomatic. In other words, they had no signs of heart disease before the fatal episode.

In some cases, the asymptomatic heart attacks happen to lean, athletic people who eat healthy, exercise 5-7 days a week and appear in great shape. They had zero indicators of an unhealthy heart, doctors and patients on the documentary stated. More women die of heart attack than men, and five times as women die of heart attack than breast cancer.

“The Widowmaker” is essentially a documentary about the battle between finding heart disease before cardiac arrest starts or treating it with a stent or by-pass surgery after that initial heart attack. That strategy, if my math is correct, allows for nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. to die annually because they don’t live long enough to undergo potentially life-saving by-pass or stent surgery.

If, as the documentary portrays, insurance companies cover a $30,000 stent operation, but do not cover a $200 coronary artery scan, that is bad news for prevention.

But Texans have an advantage over much of the nation in that a 2009 bill called the Texas Heart Attack Prevention Bill was signed into state law by Texas Governor Rick Perry. The law requires insurance companies to pay for CT scans and ultrasound tests that can detect heart disease, particularly plaque and calcium deposits that clogs blood vessels like the coronary arteries. Age ranges and health conditions exist, so check this out before you march in and demand full re-imbursement.

Other states have not introduced such a measure, which is still debated between legislators, medical professionals and insurance companies. Texas apparently stands as the first exception to the logic that treating a heart attack may be better than preventing it. But it is a battle that has cost thousands of lives since the test was created.

While I will not be a physician, I know common sense when I see it. Prevention is better. The CT scan and the ultrasound of the heart are very helpful in current analysis, even when a stress test and EKG have failed to find an heart issue. Watch “The Widowmaker” carefully.

In the name of prevention, it is also important to eat the right foods, not just any healthy diet. I have run across supplements that help diabetics like myself, and diabetics are more likely to have heart disease. Additionally I have researched and uncovered with the assistance of forward-thinking medical professionals, diets and supplementation options that should become a daily part of the every man and woman’s diet with no exceptions.

Again, I ask you: Do you have heart disease in your family? Or do you have a friend, neighbor or co-worker who has mentioned a heart attack or stroke in their family? That covers a majority of families in America, by the way.

If so, take unreasonable action today and stop sitting on your butt waiting for your first — and possibly last — cardiac arrest event. Email me at retiredbrucelee@gmail.com for simple details that may help enormously that your medical professional either doesn’t know or may not share. I have total respect for physicians, and I have learned they are brilliant in many areas. But nutrition and prevention are not high on that list.

Get the tests mentioned above today. If you live in Texas, the tests must be covered by your insurance. Even out-of-pocket cost on one test is around $200.

Then email me for a plan that can keep you out of the hospital.

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VOICES OF REASON AND LOVE ARE LOST

By Terry Carter, Editor

Another voice of reason and love was lost recently. This time, a good man passed away after a planned heart surgery went awry.

A week later, my aunt passed away, leaving many in shock because her life too had been an example of how to help others in good times and bad

Sweeny Jamison Doehring set an example for nearly everyone in our church. I knew him as Mr. Dependable, someone we could all count for wisdom, kindness and a Christian view on life. He was an Aggie’s Aggie, so we at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church honored him by wearing Texas A&M gear to his special event at church.

We will miss you, J. And we pray that your family stays strong, united and productive as they are also our family.

My aunt passed away in Richmond, Indiana, and I miss her dearly. She was the voice of peace and fun when I was young and our family visited during the summers. Mert was one of a kind. She was always kind, considerate and would give you the last piece of food in her home if you even looked hungry.

I recall my family of five driving from Michigan to Richmond one summer when I was perhaps nine years old. We arrived in the evening, unpacked, settled in and enjoyed a great, four-course meal prepared by my grandmother.

Early the day, my Aunt Mert called with great enthusiasm to invite the three Carter brothers on an expedition she had researched and thought we might enjoy. I specifically remember mentioning this in vague terms to my not-quite-awake, older brothers, who said something akin to “No thanks.” When I told Mert thanks, but no thanks and hung up, I turned around to find myself nose-to-nose with the most powerful person in the State of Indiana, in my opinion.

And that power force in my life, my grandmother, raised her voice just slightly for emphasis, saying that was a mistake to take Aunt Mert for granted. Then she suggested in no uncertain terms that no one should ever turn down an invitation from Mert again.

As I turned to call Mert back and apologize, the phone rang. My determined aunt had already taken days off of work in preparation for our visit to Indiana. And she called back with the second of probably 30 events she wanted us to enjoy. She never quits, which I find a valuable quality in life. This time Mert suggested a day outdoors picking strawberries — and eating as many as you want — for free.

Having learned my lesson for the day, I committed all three brothers without their permission and off we went. It became one of the strongest and best memories I have about vacationing in Indiana with my family. Thank you, Mert. I love you and everyone in this amazing family.

Mert also seemed to host card games every night, ranging from Gin Rummy to Euchre, at her home. Those were great times, innocent times and the best of times for this young man.

LIVE WITH VISION; DO NOT DIE WITHOUT HAVING LIVED

By Terry Carter, Editor

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die — and then dies having never really lived.” 

— James J. Lachard, on what is most surprising about humanity

The summary above describes the average day, year and life of the average person who is working hard and getting ahead in the 21th century. Some work to make money. Some to fill time. And others don’t work at all. They seem to play for 8-12 hours each day, enjoying each challenge, each event, each interaction they have while pursuing their life’s work.


That person, if you study the details carefully, is not unusual, nor a rebel. He is hard working, perhaps so busy he does not make time for family dinners, teaching his children to play ball or drive the car. He may have stayed at the office late to make financial ends meet, to afford a family vacation or to consider retiring late in life. It’s easy to justify the actions because nearly all of us have ignored what is actually more essential — in hindsight — to pay attention to the task at hand.

The fictional character described in the first paragraph dies having missed the reason and the joy of why he lived. He was so driven by societal means goals to “work hard to get ahead” and “promotions come to those with seniority” that he worked beyond the patience of his friends and family, who wanted him to have fun. At the end of his life, he will be well remembered for his work, but the end goals of joy, love, amazement and surprise were planned out of this type of life. 

Nearly everyone grew up pursuing means goals, including “get a college degree,” “work for one company during your career” and “marry once for life.” Of the 350 high school graduates from my high school, I suspect perhaps 30-40 percent did not receive a college degree, 95 percent did not work for just one company in the past 30 years, and perhaps 70 percent have exceeded the once social norm of one spouse per lifetime.

In the 1980s, no one mentioned end goals, such as climbing the tallest mountains on each continent or being surrounded by love daily, as they are primarily emotion-based that will make us happy or satisfied. End goals are about “following your heart,” Vishen Lakhiani writes in his book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. 

Means goals typically take us another step toward a place that our elders or society suggests will make us happy, But there are stipulations and complications. See how this sounds:  You should get a college degree…so you can get a good career… so you can retire. Then you will be happy. As many of us know, the college degree put us in debt and 4-8 years older. The career allowed us to pay off the debt and afford a family and some lifestyle. The retirement, however, is not as likely as we imagined as teenagers.


Stop during your work week and look at your career as you walk or hurry through the day and the deadlines. Do you feel energized to go to work today? Did you spring out of bed this morning because of how great today will be? If not, why not? For each day is only as special as we make it.

We need to dig and change our software and hardware to bring computers to the market. And we need to do the same with ourselves. Ask yourself a few questions to see if your means goals are in line with your end goals. If they are, then your path may have been perfect for you. I have had to re-adjust my path several times due to changes in the economy (new hardware), new information I have uncovered (new software) and unpredictable events. These questions are taken from Lakhiani’s book, regarding all areas of our lives including relationships, spiritual, healthy and intellectual growth, careers, family and communities:

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime? The in-depth question is: If time and money were of no object and I did not have to seek anyone’s approval, what kinds of experiences would my soul crave?
  2. How do you want to grow? The in-depth question here is: In order o have the experiences above, how do I have to grow? What sort of person do I need to become?
  3. How do you want to contribute? The follow-up question is: If I have the experiences above and have grown in these remarkable ways, how can I give back to the world?


Answer me this, and your frustration with day-to-day work will vanish because we will begin to unlock your vision. A person who works to accomplish their vision never works as we know work. He or she enjoys every moment, brings light to dark rooms, shares and helps everyone who wishes to grow. 

Perhaps you are happy with your work and your life. But studies reveal that 80 percent of us are dissatisfied and just putting in time deposit the check. And the check simply vanishes to the bills that are due. 

This, my friends, is not why we are here on Earth. We are here to do so much more than pay bills, complain in the break room and break rules when no one is looking. 

Are you ready to grow, change and stretch those wings to fly? Be one with the wave and grow forever. Walk the narrow bridge on the highest mountain, and let us discover the thrill of victory at the summit.

FITNESS OR FATNESS – THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Terry Carter, Editor

I have weighed more than 200 pounds for about 25 years now, topping out at a mountainous 262 pounds about 3 years ago. As a chronic, Type 1 diabetic with a recently disabled knee at the time, my recovery prognosis for the knee was debateable. 

After surgery and about six months of rehabilitation three days a week, the doctor said I was permanently disabled, would always walk with a limp and may never run again. At this weight and an average diabetic diet that included fast food, taking more insulin to compensate for my sugar cravings and sodas, I was nearing 50 years old and losing a life-long health battle that began when I was 11 years old.

Back then I played 5-6 sports – including baseball, golf, tennis, wrestling and football – and led most teams I played on due to good hand-eye coordination, strength, flexibility and some athletic ability. After a baseball all-star game in June 1976, my mom bought me four Cokes, and I guzzled each one while eating two hotdogs. Then I asked for a fifth Coke.

As a registered nurse, she recognized this much sugar was a bad sign for my health. Two days later, I suffered through a 5-hour, glucose tolerance test and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. 

Thirty days in the hospital was the rule back then. So this hyper, athletic 11 year old bounced up and down the hospital halls in a wheelchair. It was the nurse’s way of preventing my blood sugar from falling due to extra exercise. Thus began the complicated daily adjustments in insulin, diet, exercise and even shoes that changed my life for the better.

Better, you say? How so? Well, the doctor was matter-of-fact and told me early on that if I listened and did everything he suggested, I may live to be 60 years old. We didn’t discuss the alternative.


So for more than 35 years, I had analyzed blood sugars, adjusted insulin doses, eaten OK and stayed semi-active as our three children grew up. But dietary knowledge and fitness gurus improved the system while I was preoccupied as many of us are today. Calories didn’t matter as much as Carbs. And cardio and cross-training became the fitness trends.

When I fell and hurt my knee, the Meniscus tore. And I was forced to walk like Festus in the old TV series Gunsmoke, kind of dragging my right knee behind me because the knee would no longer bend to lift it off the ground. Some of that was caused by the knee injury; some of the limp came from the hard scar tissue after the surgery.

So after the rehab doctor tells me I will likely never run again and am permanently disabled, my inner athlete chose to challenge those findings immediately. First I signed up for several seasons of slow-pitch softball. The first season, no one let me run. The second season, I ran the bases slow but steady after spending almost six months jogging sprints and trying not to fall on my face..

And the third season, I batted exclusively from the left side to get closer to first base, and I ran hard… for an old guy with one leg. On infield grounders, I forced myself all out to first base, and I beat a handful of throws. Playing infield was good training for the legs too because I simply didn’t give up.

Back to today: I walk about 30 miles a week and go running 3-4 times weekly. With my injury, I am forced to consciously take every step carefully and precisely to prevent stumbling on hilly terrain and stairs. I still fall, but I get back up and move on. As part of this rehab mission, I have always become a 3-day-a-week regular at my gym. It’s like CHEERS: They wave to me when I enter.

I have made good progress on the weights, treadmill and swimming once a week. I am not concerned about sweating hard and growling during my last 2-3 repetitions on a challenging weight. And I am now leg pressing as much as the machine can handle, and that leg press is the best rehab exercise for my knees, bar none.


As I mentioned earlier, I weighted 262 about 2.5-3 years ago after the surgery. Now I am 224 pounds, a 38-pound drop based on taking known weaknesses and focusing on them – intently! I never ran cross country or sprints. So my 5K runs for practice and in competition are new stimulus to my body. Your body and mine alike dislike the same excercises over and over. I mix long walks with pure sprints with quarter-mile jogs, but the running itself is my body’s best cardio workout.

It may be different for you. And 224 pounds is the lightest I have weighed in more than 20 years. I could not have imagined that after I reached 35 or 40 years old. It’s incredible to be moving down in weight while eating well and taking all-natural supplements from Plexus. The combination of eating healthier, exercising consistently and taking vitamins and the right supplements is a rare combination that gave me more energy, endurance, focus and better results.

I cannot tell you how happy I am with the strength, quickness, flexibility and overall health I am feeling right now. Also I take less than 50 percent of the insulin I injected three years ago. To all of you real runners out there, I’m not Clydesdale size yet, but my goal of 205-210 is within sight. Then I will bust that 35-minute barrier in a 5K race.

And if a 51-year-old man with a chronic disease and one knee can do that, I’m sure you can at least walk 15-30 minutes after you get home from work. How about it? Are you willing to join me?

THE TAO OF STRUGGLE

A friend recently asked the rhetorical question we all must answer: Why is everything I NEED to do always so difficult?

After taking the same test administered by the hand of God and failing it repeatedly myself over the years, I choked back a giggle. Then I reminded my friend that life was never designed to be simple or convenient. Everyone has their own perspective on the why. However nearly everyone agrees we are tested daily with seemingly unpleasant challenges.

For myself I always viewed the hard work in life as a character-building exercise developed just for me by God. As a young student, I did well in all subjects and every sport I attempted in elementary school. I made excellent grades, led my age group in T-ball/baseball, golf and more. I even wound up on the front page of the local newspaper at about age nine because I was simply in the right place at the right time. Those were great years, followed by character-building events.

At age 11, I won 4-of-5 golf tournaments and completed a strong baseball season with an appearance in the county all-star game in early June. After that game, my mother observed that I drank about five Cokes to quench my thirst. With one son already living with Type I Diabetes, she was quick to have me tested for the chronic disease. I tested positive and spent nearly 30 days in the local hospital while adjusting to taking insulin injections and testing sugars consistently. 

Just as I was checking out of the hospital from that long visit — my friends called it imprisonment — the doctor checked my throat and found a lump that brought me back to the hospital days later. It was removed, found to be benign and left behind a long scar on my neck — pretty exciting for all of the wrong reasons. These are some of the struggles I deal with even today. We all have ongoing issues we adjust to keeping thriving, or they can conquer us.

In my case, I developed new-found abilities to make detailed charts of insulin doses, blood sugars, meals and exercise to make better daily adjustments to my blood sugars. I became proud of my scars, wounds. While I was quiet at times, I focused on growing into a responsible leader. I found recently after a personality evaluation that my personality is very strong in 3-of-4 basic personality types, which is a scarce quality. They give me a good chance to recognize and solve the battles that arrive daily in my life.

Consider the battle of opposing forces you observe regularly in every city. It is the Yin and Yang of your life: The wind and rain batter the Earth daily; the hustle of life versus the caution required to cross a busy street; debates that start among family or close friends; and much more.

Martin arts legend Bruce Lee used the analogy of water to explain life and our role in it: Water can flow. It can be poured into a cup, and it becomes the cup… this analogy reveals how we humans can adapt and change to fit our responsibilities and environment. Bruce also said: “Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” This suggests we humans can break down barriers, break out of bad relationships and overcome what holds us down in life. It also subtly suggests that without crashing out of the cup, we can become imprisoned inside the cup forever, while thinking that is all there is.

But how do we break barriers and overcome challenges? With faith, hope and prayers involving God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

To me, Bruce was telling me to be water. And as water, I could conform to the shape I was poured into, or I could crash and wear down the cup, the rock or the room that tried to contain me. It is my choice to flow or crash, and it is your choice also.

In the second paragraph, I mentioned my repeated test failings. It didn’t happen in the classroom. Yet it seemed my Father often created a specific test for me to pass or fail each week. And if I did not pass God’s test, the same assignment was waiting on my desk again Monday morning. God’s tests – in retrospect – closely resemble the math tests we all took in school as we learned simple mathematics.

Have you ever felt like you could not move forward in life until you solved this one puzzle – something like a Rubik’s Cube? Logic works sometimes. But here it did not. Random chance, guts and wild guesses did not help either. Following my heart solved little. After repeated failures, I studied my defeats — typically caused by my own selfish strategies — and resigned to God’s will. 

In reality, this is perhaps the second most certain path to wisdom in life. The best method I’ve discovered is learning from others by personal observation, interviewing people and reading books for knowledge.

Why is life so challenging? Because it should be for all the right reasons. Humans must learn, live and grow. If we all had a smooth, even walk to the summit in life, boredom would dominate the day. The potholes, curves, deadends, tangents, S-curves and roadblocks give us a challenge, a chance to overcome the obstacles.

Take on the challenges in your life. Drama or no drama, tests are for acing. Failure is there for the wisdom to be gained. Death happens to teach the living that today is vital. And setbacks pose only temporary walls in our path if we solve the correct riddle at hand. If not, we seem to take the same test again next week.

Perhaps I need to be more talkative and polite. Perhaps you need to be more resilient. We all have room to improve, except for The One – and I do not mean Neo. 

BEFORE I DIE…

By Terry Carter, Editor

I just finished watching a 6-minute video at Ted.com by New Orleans artist Connie Chang. If you are not aware, Ted.com is a popular website where sometimes inspiring, sometimes groundbreaking ideas are shared in short snippets. Many are calls to action.

Connie’s talk centered around a large chalkboard put up in a neighborhood with the beginning of a sentence and space for the community to fill in their personal answer. The introduction is: Before I Die, I Will…  The website for is http://www.BeforeIDie.cc

While the chalkboard allowed for one line of handwritten completion, many scrawled entries beyond the formal spacing. The canvas was filled in fewer than 24 hours. Now you can find “Before I Die…” walls in Houston and around the world.

In support of Connie’s idea to transform a rundown, abandoned home into a constructive location, I want to chip in my input. I am confident that it too will exceed the formal spacing allowed although it may not match the first signer Connie highlighted. That was a man dressed as a pirate, scribbling: “I want to be TRIED FOR PIRACY.”

Still, here is my personal list.

Before I die, I want to:

  1. Live my life fueled by hope, faith and love
  2. Inspire greatness through God’s will
  3. Show love, appreciation daily to my outstanding, wise and talented children
  4. Celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with the only woman in my world
  5. Break 35 minutes in a 5K run — hopefully all downhill and with a gale force wind
  6. Write more than 25 books
  7. Play golf in the United Kingdom with Rory, Jordan and Tom Watson
  8. Financially support life-changing organizations like: Archway Academy, Cornerstone Recovery, the American Diabetes Association, The Bruce Lee Foundation and many more
  9. Contribute to world peace with my unique gifts
  10. Share positive family stories for my children to cherish and my grandchildren to adore hearing

Friends, my list is a bit extreme, I admit. But I have always dreamed of accomplishing great things. My wish for you is that you will join me in posting your “Before I Die” list. 

HAPPINESS TO SHARE

By Terry Carter, Editor

As parents, tradition says we will adore our kids when they are very young, teach them when they are willing and withstand the rebellious years until they move on (not .org).

My wife and I are nearing our 29th wedding anniversary, and our offspring are fully sprung. That is, they all have their own lives and homes outside ours — and they are 21+ years old. None have children yet. So Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just opportunities to give the parentals a hug one more time from their 20-something mindset, I imagine.

Just wait until you children arrive, my children. Then those holidays will mean more to you. With luck kindness and generosity will be key traits you teach your young ones. If so, the rewards are well received on all holidays. 

But tonight I mention traditional values like love. As my son celebrated his epic birthday this weekend, I already see a great man who is capable of achieving any goal — as all of our children are. Of course all parents think their kids are the greatest thing on Earth, and I signed up for that class three decades ago.

Children are what makes life most enjoyable. As they grow, they are curious about everything. They are happier than anyone, and they are so honest. Then comes the heredity: Children are adorable, funny and unique from their siblings. It is truly a gift from God to have three healthy, brilliant and beautiful/handsome and well-adjusted children in the world today. 

We are so thankful for their leadership, their compassion, their peace and their chosen paths in life. I doubt I could have selected any of their current journeys at birth, but I am consistently impressed by what they done and their ambitions for the future. One has lived in Hawaii for years after buying a 1-way ticket. One helps save lives each day and has participated in a national rally in Washington D.C. And another found her true love, married and has been to Paris for her honeymoon.

I write for a living. But these three tales of three outstanding young adults keep me filled with hopes and dreams every time I think of them. Grown children rarely are told that they are wonderful and a gift from God — but they certainly are.

I know I speak for all parents — even those who mumble or whisper their “I love you” when I say this to my children: You are loved, and love lasts forever. Greatness lies within you, and you are already on your path to a great mountain. Always aim high, dream big. 

Then pack for an exciting journey, for success is not reaching a picturesque destination. No, success is taking a worthwhile journey requiring personal growth, hard work, endurance, peace and faith. You will reach 100 destinations on the journey. Enjoy each step, each stopover and each barrier. Greatness is not handed to anyone. It arrives after the hard work, after the pain. You are great, and your greatness arrives from journeys and challenges. Face them and solve them. It’s part of the growing-up, being-independent thing we all deal with.

Happy birthday, Bobby. I’m so proud of you doing things your way.