“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
– John Muir
Look around. We are surrounded by the wonders and beauty of nature. The climate change discussion likes to draw our attention to the negative effects of our neglect but how about we open our eyes to what we have right now and how much we want to leave to our children and our children’s children. There is a Native American proverb that says, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” How true that is.
From the tallest peaks to the vibrant moss finding a home on a branch. It’s all right there. We’re all too busy not being in the moment. Checking out the latest alert on our phone.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
– Albert Einstein
There is so much to learn from nature. Complexity. Simplicity. Strength. Weakness. Patience. Cooperation. Balance. Beauty.
So, do me a favor. Go on a walk. Or go on a hike. Then just sit there. Without your phone. And, take it all in. It’s all pretty amazing if you open your eyes.
“Preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
– Carl Sagan
Let us all do our best to take care of this wonderful planet we live on. One only have one.
My memory stinks. I blame not getting enough sleep as a kid. The TV show M.A.S.H. would come on at 11:30pm after the news and I would find myself sneaking downstairs to watch while my parents were asleep. Way too late for any little kid to be up. Sarah will tell you that I can’t remember anything important but remember the dumbest things. Well, I needed to text my buddy the exact date of a concert we went to back in 1993. Jerry Garcia Band at MSG on November 12, 1993.
SET 1 How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) They Love Each Other Forever Young Struggling Man Money Honey My Sisters And Brothers Lay Down Sally
SET 2 Shining Star You Never Can Tell [C’est La Vie] Wonderful World The Maker Don’t Let Go That Lucky Old Sun Tangled Up In Blue
My high school in Connecticut was heavy into the Grateful Dead and related bands. Not entirely sure why but it was a convenient spot to be in to be a fan because the Grateful Dead played many shows in the area. They would do long winter runs at Madison Square Garden in New York City and summer runs at The Meadowlands in New Jersey. So many great shows with so many great people.
This show specifically stands outs because it was one of my first Grateful Dead (related) shows and started a long line of concerts following the likes of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, Dead & Company, Phish, Widespread Panic, Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd and Goose. I’m not entirely sure how many concerts I’ve been to anymore — I stopped counting. I kept as many of the ticket stubs as I could until they just stopped making them and it went completely digital. Each of these stubs tell a story.
My brain has always loved the patterns with music and improvisational opportunities of genres like Jazz. I played the guitar and messed around with the bass and drums. There was something very therapeutic with practice that I loved so much. I remember sitting around my bedroom just rolling through scale patterns and chords. My mind lost in the patterns or thinking about something else. I’m sure I’ll never find it but my college essay was about the magic of music. My band in high school was named “Rubbing Buddah’s Belly” or #rbb for all the “merch”. We always joke that there would be a reunion tour one of these days. Our wives would be the only groupies left. 🙂
Few distinct things I remember from this concert —
Jerry Garcia blew my mind. I loved his solos and his vocals were still solid.
Loved the lights and how they complemented the music.
Loved the scene and people.
Was very confused why there was so much smoke in the air at the set break. I was very naive. Haha.
Pearl Jam @ Oakland Coliseum 5/12/2022 & 5/12/2022
One of my most favorite bands in high school was Pearl Jam. It doesn’t get better than the album Ten. However, I’d never seen them live … until this past month! They did not disappointment. Fantastic show!
Life is short. Find your joy. I told myself I would spend more time seeing live music. It’s so great to see the performers back on the road after COVID. This year should see my first visit to Red Rocks Amphitheater and possibly a couple of shows with my girls in hopes to pass down the music bug.
Thank you reading my ramblings. Comment below or send me a note!
If you apply this to life, your overall goal may be to achieving a broader goal like getting so good at a sport to compete in the Olympics but you may feel trapped in a plateau in your skills development along the way. Worst case, you are overconfident and fooling yourself to think that you are the best at something when you are actually not. There has to be recognition that you have reached a plateau usually caused by feedback or an event. Then you need to figure out how to get out of it. These break through moments tend to be very hard and very big. The harder the problem, the more likely you give up along the way. So much drive, passion and hard work is required. Most are satisfied with getting to some “local maximum” and not getting to the “global maximum”. This phenomenon exists in so many things in life.
Learning new skills.
Solving hard problems.
Start ups moving from one phase of growth to the next.
Established companies moving from one focus to another.
Transitioning from one phase of your life to the next.
Encountering a “life crisis”
In my case, it feels like I encountered a “life crisis” that that broadened my perspective and has me asking “what is beyond this local maximum I’m in right now?” The American Psychological Association defines a life crisis as —
“a period of distress and major adjustment associated with a significant life experience, such as divorce or death of a family member. In studies relating health to life crises, individuals experiencing recent major stress-producing experiences are more likely than others to show significant alterations in mental and physical health status.”
Am I having an actual “life crisis”? I don’t think so. I’m generally very happy and grateful for everything that I have been provided in life. But, I have had a “significant life event” with my stroke. I have discovered that life is fragile and am asking myself if I am taking advantage of everything I can. Not in a bad way but just thinking that this ride eventually ends. When it does, what will I look back upon? I am fond of the ending of Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs where Steve Jobs is reflecting upon what happens after death.
I would call it more a “life reevaluation”. Something one might encounter during a quarter or midlife crisis. So, I invite you to come along with me on this journey and maybe something I write about will strike a chord with you. One caveat, this is my journey and mostly my own self reflections. I’m just thinking out loud.
Below is a list of questions that checks in on my alignment. I have no idea if this is my complete list but these are the ones I’ve been reflecting on recently.
Am I being a good boss, coworker, friend, family member, husband and dad?
Am I working on something I am passionate about?
Am I making a dent in the universe?
Am I over-indexing on what I think society thinks I need to be doing?
Am I being kind to others?
Am I helping other people?
Am I being open minded?
Do I listen deeply to others?
Am I being respected and do I respect others?
Am I working on something creative?
Am I being positive and surrounding myself with positive people?
Am I learning and growing every day?
Am I being challenged?
Am I surrounded by people that challenge me?
Am I enjoying my craft?
Am I being genuine?
Am I enjoying the moment?
Am I being thankful?
Am I happy?
Do any of these resonate with you?
I find it enjoyable to reflect on these things periodically. It’s easy to be “comfortable” with where you’re at or where society thinks you should be doing. We are capable of doing so much more. Helping many more people. Making the world a better place. As I tell my kids, you can do anything with the right amount of passion and hard work.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Comment below or send me a note! Thank you for reading!
The Five Bullet Review is a condensed review format in as it states, five bullets
Bullet #1 — The good
Bullet #2 — The bad
Bullet #3 — The ugly
Bullet #4 — The surprising
Bullet #5 — Recommendation
I would definitely categorize myself as an “Apple Fan Boy”. When I was in middle school (circa 1989-1990) I found a dial-in bulletin board system (BBS) that hosted an online stock portfolio game where folks would be given pretend $100,000 to invest in stocks. Well, I put all my pretend $100,000 in Apple at the time because I was just caught up in Steve Jobs and that intersection of technology and the arts. It inspired me to focus on computer science and drove my passion to build great products throughout my career. I’m sure I failed the “balanced portfolio” aspect of the game but I think I would have won the long term return on investment game. Apple stock was priced around $0.30 in 1990. My $100,000 investment in Apple in 1989 would be worth roughly $55 million today. Not bad.
Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011. I remember where I was that day — at my desk running an engineering team for a mobile game studio in San Francisco building some of the first mobile games on the Apple iPhone. I even remember writing a brief blog post when it happened.
Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs came out soon after on October 24, 2011. The movie based on Walter Isaacson’s book screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin and staring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Seth Daniels came out in October 2015. All right on top of each other.
I recently had an opportunity re-read the book and re-watch the movie.
This review will be about the book, the movie and Steve.
The good — the book is very well written and very detailed. It’s a very long but reads very fast. Steve’s personality is so complex. He followed his heart and worked his ass off. His perseverance through adversity is amazing to witness. The setbacks are part of our journey and I think we’re all too easy to give up when it gets hard.
The bad — the movie was entertaining but felt forced in some places. It’s hard to believe the entire movie happened at three product launch events. The book was much better.
The ugly — its interesting to think what would have happened if Steve Jobs didn’t die. I bet there would have been many more years of innovation left in him.
The surprising — Steve Jobs is no Jesus. His personality had its imperfections and those imperfections likely helped drive him towards the success he became. Also, it’s amazing to me how detailed Steve got into the development of new products. His name is on over 458 patents.
Recommendation — If you are even a little bit an Apple fan or enjoy a story of the persistence, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.
Bonus: If you have a moment, rewatch Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl advertisement, Apple’s Think Different advertisement and his commencement speech at Stanford University. Very enjoyable. I re-watched his commencement speech with my daughter.
I actually started writing this blog post a couple months back but didn’t enjoy how it was coming together so I started from scratch. Not sure why but maybe because there was still tremendous uncertainty in the entire thing. Well, there is surely less uncertainty now but I’ll save that for the end. For those of you not following along at home, I had a stroke in November 2021. It opened my eyes to the value of life we too often take for granted and how awesome the web of people around us are. I’ve been journaling my experience on my blog (Surviving a Stroke, Surviving a Stroke: Recovery) primarily to help raise awareness of the risks of strokes, create empathy for the those working their way through recovery and the hope of maybe making folks aware enough to save a life.
In 2018, 1 in every 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease was due to stroke.
Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.
Stroke-related costs in the United States came to nearly $46 billion between 2014 and 2015.This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
It has now been roughly 6 months since I was flying over my favorite Utah ski resorts in an Intermountain Life Flight to the Neuro ICO in Murray, Utah. What’s the update?
Finding My Joy
Memento Mori is latin for “remember that you [have to] die’ and a saying that is supposed to remind us of the inevitability of death. It is also a name of a gift shop outside of Disney World’s Haunted Mansion selling death oriented souvenirs. I kid you not. I know what this phrase meant before but I didn’t digest it until recently. There is a fragility to life that feels random. The doctors have told me there was no good reason why I had a stroke and I’m super lucky to have come out basically unscathed. It feels like it just happened.
So, how have I internalized this? I just need to live the best life I can live while I’m here. We all need to find our joy. That surely sounds weird but life is really awesome, we need to enjoy it while we can. The little things that bother us are truly are just little things surrounded by awesome moments we’re too busy to enjoy. Why are we so busy? Who knows. Because we all have attention deficit disorder (ADD) and FOMO. Enjoying the moment has never meant more to me.
“Being Mortal” is an amazing book. I highly recommend it. It is a doctors journey working through the reality of death with his patients and ultimately with his father. Gawande offers a balanced and thoughtful perspective. In one chapter, he discusses the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory which is a life-span theory of motivation. The theory states that our perception of our own mortality impacts what we are motivated to do. When we are young, we are invincible and invest in long term experiences and relationships. But, as we grow old, we maximize positive emotional experiences and hone in on our friends that make us happy. We become increasingly selective, investing greater resources in emotionally meaningful goals and activities. Those that have life changing health issues early can experience an acceleration of this phenomenon. I can absolutely relate —
I now value my life, my family and my friends with a deeper sense of appreciation
I now value each life experience more deeply
I am more present in the moment
I now carry less stress for the little things that used to really bother me
I now have less patience for bullshit and things that waste my time
I now smile and laugh more
I now give bigger hugs
I now have a desire to make a broader impact beyond just me
That all sounds like metaphysical transformation crap but its all true.
I’ll note that my path through my stroke pales in comparison to others. I joined several stroke support groups on Facebook and I was humbled. Humbled by the journey of recovery people were going through. I am grateful for my recovery and support I had throughout. Folks would post things like “Strokes are worse than death. Wish it had taken me.” and “My life died when I had my stroke”. Absolutely no joke. These are real people with real challenges. I really want to help them all in some way.
I went back to work in January 2022 after the holidays. I needed every minute of the time off but felt ready enough to get back into the flow. It definitely felt a little weird getting back in my routine but I was back in the groove in no time. It was great to get back to my team and help them however I could. But, there were many moments of reflection on the true meaning of work in the bigger picture. My wife diagnosed me as a workaholic a long time ago. I really enjoy work. I care deeply about my team but realize there is so much more to life. 20+ years in Silicon Valley will skew you to think that work is everything. It’s something for sure. But its not everything.
Here are some other observations I had about work —
Everything keeps going without you. You might think you are the most important thing at work but folks figure things out.
I needed to create a new leadership framework and style. I wanted to take he opportunity to develop a new gear in my leadership style that would be good for me and my teams. The same level of drive and motivation with less wear on me and more empowerment to my leaders. This is still a work in progress but I’m getting there.
Snoozing alerts is heaven. You actually don’t need to listen to every alert that comes at you and to be honest, its bad for your brain.
I usually start my week Monday morning by going to 5:15am CrossFit at Park City Fit. I try to go 3-4 times a week when its not ski season. It was just something that I built into my routine many years ago and helps me start my week with structure and discipline. I feel lethargic when I don’t go. My doctors cleared me to get back into the box but asked me to modify my workouts so that not to put pressure on my brain. Well, I was modifying my workouts well before my stroke so there wasn’t anything to worry about there. Haha.
That first Monday back to work, I got up at 4:30am like I usually do. Got dressed. Made a cup of coffee. Jumped into the car and I was off. I turned on the music and the most perfect song came on, So Damn Lucky by the Dave Matthews Band. Dave Matthews said at a show at Radio City Music Hall —
“This is a song about where you’re about to trip and fall and smash your face but everything slows down to the point where you comprehend you’re gonna get hurt but it’s not enough time to do anything about it. And this song is about how not to forget about counting your blessings.”
Consider this my soundtrack for this blog post.
CrossFit has always been about community to me. Great people. Suffering together. It was so great seeing familiar faces again. I modified all the workouts that week significantly and it didn’t matter. It felt so great to be getting back into my routine.
Intervals For Time: 40 Dumbbell Snatch (50/35) 30 Box Jump (24/20) 150 Double Under -8 min Cap -Rest 2 min- 30 Box Jump (24/20) 40 Dumbbell Snatch (50/35) 150 Double Under -8 min Cap -Rest 2 min 150 Double Under 30 Box Jump (24/20) 40 Dumbbell Snatch (50/35) -8 min Cap
For Time: 50 Clean & Jerk (185/125) 75 Toes to Bar -Complete in any order you like to accomplish the work Goal: Sub 20 min
Am I still skiing? Hell yes. The doctors cleared me for light skiing in January but asked that I keep it tame. I’ve not been a high adrenaline, high risk skier anyway so that wasn’t going to be that hard. I didn’t start skiing until I was 15 so a beginner compared to the winter sport talent in Park City, Utah. I spend most of the winter at Park City Mountain, Deer Valley, Snowbird and Alta getting better at my turns, working the moguls and just getting better at the sport overall. I still love the steeps but I take them more carefully these days. Next year, I’ll take on the challenge of backcountry skiing. There is nothing better than being outside and listening to the quiet of the snow.
As I write this, the ski season is coming to an end, the tourists have left and we are entering the mud season. I’m looking forward to getting the mountain bikes out as soon as the ground dries up a bit.
Looking ahead, my goal is finally start something that I’ve been wanting to do for years — Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’m not going to let this “health setback” keep me down.
What is the final prognosis?
My neurologist ran me through a bunch of test this past month to help answer why this happened to me. She ordered a battery of blood tests along with full torso, chest and brain scans. They required me to drink a bunch of this super tasty medical berry smoothie. This was a bit of nerve racking experience for me — what if they found something like cancer in one of these scans? That is actually one of potential causes for a stroke. Not sure I was mentally ready to hear that. These test took me hours. I spent a full hour in a MRI tube listening to the Grateful Dead — alone with my thoughts and just looking into a mirror at my feet.
The test results started to come in. The good news is that almost all of the test came back clear and then there was this magical prognosis that came from my MRI —
The blood clot had fully healed and my brain was 100%. Woo-hoo!
The bad news, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to know why this happened to me. This would normally really bother me but whatever, time to live life.
How am I feeling?
I’m feeling 100%. I need to lose the “stroke 10 pounds’ as I like to call them. I sort of started eating like crap because I said to myself, hell ya I’m going to eat some cake and ice cream tonight. I almost died!
The best news, I can blame my stroke for just about anything.
“Sorry, doctor said I can’t do the laundry. I had a stroke.”
“How could I possibly miss going to see my Yankees in the Bronx with my friends? I had a stroke!”
“Is it really our anniversary? The stroke must have made me forget.”
What is ahead?
First and foremost, save the date October 29, 2022 is National Stroke Awareness Day. I’ll be running a fundraiser on that day to benefit other stroke victims and remind folks strokes are real and every second counts.
Everything else — I’m not sure yet. I’m still digesting it all. Stay tuned.
As always, thank you for reading and please let me know what you think. And don’t forget to find your joy.
Brooklyn had a project where she had to video record a passage from William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“. I have a hard time reading English, let alone Old English. And by Old English, I mostly think it’s an under appreciated, budget drink.
Brooklyn was director, producer, creative director, props and played the role of Hermia. I was camera man and played the role of Lysander. Sarah was Helena. It was cute. The outtakes are hilarious. That will make it into the bonus material when we get financing to do the entire play.
I’m generally a heavy research guy when I buy things. I get excited digging in deep about a new area, topic or product. It annoys the heck out of Sarah because she would prefer I “just pick something” rather than spend weeks and months learning about every corner case or limitation. However, I can get annoyed by the overly exhaustive reviews or long videos about things. Sometimes I just need the TL;DR . So, I’m inventing the wildly innovative “Five Bullet Review” (sarcasm) — a short form review of well, anything.
Bullet #1 — The good
Bullet #2 — The bad
Bullet #3 — The ugly
Bullet #4 — The surprising
Bullet #5 — Recommendation
Feels straight forward, right? And it’s ode to a classic Clint Eastwood film.
So, what should I review? I have no idea but I thought I would start simple and review Dune by Frank Herbert which I recently read and listened to the Audible audio book during my time off. Widely considered one of the top ten science fiction books of all time.
Dune is set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which various noble houses control planetary fiefs. It tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. While the planet is an inhospitable and sparsely populated desert wasteland, it is the only source of melange, or “spice”, a drug that extends life and enhances mental abilities. Melange is also necessary for space navigation, which requires a kind of multidimensional awareness and foresight that only the drug provides. As melange can only be produced on Arrakis, control of the planet is a coveted and dangerous undertaking. The story explores the multilayered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the factions of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its spice.
The good — Lived up to the hype. Well written. Fantastic character development. Deep world building.
The bad — Don’t listen to the Audible audio book. “A” for effort but it got confusing as hell. They had multiple readers reading different characters in different voices with different special effects. The voices would change and you ask yourself, who the heck is that? And why does that guy sound like Darth Vader?
The surprising — surprisingly fast read because there is plenty of action. Some science fiction can get into annoyingly deep detail on things but in this case, Herbert did a good job keeping the story moving.
Recommendation — if you like science fiction, you need to read Dune. If you don’t, some of the world building might bore you but I still think it’s worth the read.
Well, here’s to some more interesting reviews in the future.
Let me know what you think. Thank you for reading!
Alas, 2021 is coming to an end and a new year is upon us. What is the best way for me to summarize 2021? It sort of reminded me a baby having a surprise blowout on the changing room table and leaving a “fecal Jackson Pollock” on the wall. You look at it and can’t help but share a smile because well, there is shit all over the wall. Will the wall be the same again? Do I need to paint over it? 2021 was full of surprises. Ridiculous moments. WTF moments. All you could say is “wow, that is a lot of shit on the wall.”
Let’s take a moment to reflect back on some of these ridiculous events from from 2021 —
Global Pandemic Year #2 [Timeline] — at least we stopped washing our Wheat Thin boxes
Capitol Riots — sure, let’s throw a party at Capitol and everyone is invited! Except the people working there.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan — my assumption is that they grabbed the wrong plan on the way out the door, the plan marked “Don’t do this plan”.
Betty White’s passing — A true comedic gem. My favorite Dusty Muffin.
Wow. Pass the toilet paper.
Well, there were other things as well. The technology behind the mRNA vaccines is absolutely amazing. Our advancement in space travel and space exploration is pressing in high gear. Despite the pandemic, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo carried on even though I can honestly say I can’t remember many moments from the games. Facebook changed their name to distract us from their own blowout moment. Tesla sold 936,172 cars last year which feels like a lot of electric cars. More 5G rolled out and it felt exactly like what we had before. Unless you were in finance, you got more acquainted with the spot in your home where you work. You likely bought a plant for your desk.
For the Mascardo family, we had a really good year all things considered. It wasn’t without its up and downs but I tend to look at things as a glass is half full. You have to these days. We got to experience our first complete year in Park City, Utah and it was amazing. Our new friends are amazing and I would say we have strengthened our friendships with the folks we cared the most about everywhere else. The outdoors and the seasons are just amazing. I’ve developed a new found appreciation for the serenity of the outdoors. Here are some of my blog posts on this topic —
Working remote is here to stay for at least another year. Time to buy another plant.
Electric Vehicles continue to take hold with companies not Tesla gaining adoption
Further early adoption of augmented reality and virtual reality products with Apple releasing their offering in the space.
Further early adoption/disruption with DeFi / DAO / crypto / NFT
More cyber security shenanigans
Unfortunately, the Yankees won’t win the World Series (again)
All things considered, nothing to complain about and many more things to be grateful for. So many things. I’m hopeful for a very positive 2022. But, if its another “blowout” year like 2021, I’ll still find the things to be grateful for.
Enjoy some photos below from the past year.
Happy New Year to you and your family! Thank you for reading! Like or comment below!
Life can feel full of setbacks. All very random and of varying degrees. Not sure I would have predicted having a stroke in 2021 but it happened. Setbacks can also be opportunities given the proper perspective. Back when I was looking for my first job out of college, I was denied a job with a technology consulting company in the Washington D.C. area mostly because of a technicality in my application. At the time, I was crushed mostly because I was still learning that “setbacks” were ok. But soon after I got that rejection letter, I got invited to join a weekend of interviewing at a technology firm in San Francisco to which I accepted a job, found a group of amazingly smart technology friends that I am still friends today and of course, met my wife and mother of the my two beautiful girls. That rejection changed my life trajectory forever. Opportunity.
Setbacks are opportunities. Opportunity for an alternate path. Opportunity for growth. Opportunity for learning. Opportunity for motivation. Opportunity for drive. Opportunity for focus. Opportunity for humility. Opportunity for empathy.
And what gets you through the setbacks? Perspective and hard work.
My goal is to come back 125% from this stroke and use this moment as an opportunity for positive change. My recovery has been going very well. Recovering from anything brain related is a new experience for me. I have never had an head injury before. The brain seems to recover differently than other area of the body. It needs rest, sleep, hydration, proper stimulation and all with the proper amount of time. Through this process I’ve really wanted to test aspects of my brain like a program running self diagnostics on itself to see how things are “coming back online”. How are my gross motor skills? How are my fine motor skills? How is my long term memory? How is my short terms memory? How is my cognitive thinking? How are my emotions? How are my behaviors? Has anything changed?
In the hospital, I took the NIH Stroke Scale Assessment and a variation of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test numerous times. One of the questions on the cognitive assessment test is being given 5 random words, committing them to memory and recalling them 5-10 minutes later. This test was popularized when President Donald Trump said he “passed this test with flying colors” — his five words were “Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV” and they ended up being an internet sensation.
My words were “Apple, Pen, Tie, Car, House”. I’ll never forget those words now. As Sarah will tell you, I sometimes have a problem being “present in the moment” because we’re all self diagnosed with some form of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and then blame social media. Well, at the time I was so paranoid about the test that I literally burned those words into my brain. Now, I will remember them forever. At home, I find myself easing into physical and mental acuity drills just to see how sharp I am. Secretly, I wonder if the new found brain blood circulation will unlock new comic book like brain super powers! Nope. That has not happened. (yet)
While at the hospital I was provided these cool orange socks with “grippy” material at the bottom of them — clearly to prevent recreation of Tom Cruise’s scene from Risky Business. Random unverified fact from the internet is that the sock colors you are given mean something. Feels super logical but I’m not sure if its true.
Red socks indicate allergies; orange means the patient is a potential flight risk, and purple signals “do not resuscitate.” Like a neon sign, the socks are bright cues to all hospital staff. It’s the yellow socks that scream the loudest, demanding the most attention. Patients wearing yellow socks have been identified as being most at risk of falling. And falls can easily lead to broken bones, head injuries, longer stays in the hospital, increased costs and liability, and in the most severe cases, death.
The orange socks meant that I was a flight risk! Marked like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption. Rest assured, I wasn’t planning to break out of my stay there.
Being discharged was a glorious moment. I appreciated every moment of my time in the hospital but it was time to go home. My dad (who is an Endocrinologist) had warned me that patients can experience a “high” leaving the hospital but that will come down and may even experience a setback in their recovery when they get home. He said to take it easy and not to jump back into things quickly. Wise words. I went home that day feeling great but then I actually fell down two stairs after everyone had gone to bed. I jumped up and laughed thinking to myself, “Whoa, it’s like I had a stroke or something.” It was at that moment that realized I probably needed the time to heal and this was a very different injury that I had experienced before. I should have had my yellow socks on. They would have protected me.
Now, for some thanks. Holy smokes the support was overwhelming. Sarah was at my side all day long. We joked it was the most dedicated time we spent without the kids in a long time! Our new friends in Park City sent so much food and support. All of our friends and family filled my phone with messages of support and offers to help. My CEO and co-workers just told me to relax and heal. That part was very hard for me as a chronic workaholic but I needed all the healing time I think. My old CrossFit box sent me a box of messages! I couldn’t ask for anything more from my people. Sarah and I are so grateful.
So, what am I doing during my downtime. Finally got the time to read Frank Herber’s Dune. I’m a huge sci-fi fan and this had been in my reading list for a long time. It did not disappoint and neither did the new movie for that matter.
“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune
Our dog is getting lots of walking. I’m easing myself into physical activity again. I was scheduled to do a half-marathon in January but that probably isn’t going to happen. I’ll be getting back at Park City Fit in January on a modified workout regimen. The days of super heavy lifting is probably limited these days but my CrossFit friends would probably say I never lifted heavy anyway. Haha.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time trying to work my way through our medical system. It seems that acute symptoms get immediate attention but those with moderate symptoms can get lost in the shuffle. It took me close to a month to get a referral from one medical organization to another accepted and a doctor appointment scheduled. It involved dozens of phone calls and offering to purchase a new fax machine that was involved in the process. Yes, there is one actual fax machine that accepts all the referrals and it was broken for days. I’m grateful for the medical system we have but there are aspects that ripe for innovation — and by innovation I mean stop using a friggin’ fax machine from 1985. However, the bills got to me like butter on a hot piece of toast.
Checking … Apple, Pen, Tie, Car, House … yup, still ok.
Few things I’m keeping an eye out on —
I’m keeping an eye out on is being hit by another stroke. I have a much higher likelihood of having another stroke within the first three months of had one.
How the heck did this happen to me? The doctors might never know.
You might be asking yourself why am I being so open about having a stroke? Well, I really do think that stroke awareness is a real thing. I really didn’t know much about strokes before this or what to do when they happened. I just got lucky. Folks need to know that strokes can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Folks needs to know the symptoms and what to do when it happens.
The other thing I’m committing to is raising and donating $10,000 to stroke research and awareness in 2022. I’m not sure how yet because I want to find the right charity. It might be that I start my own non-profit in 2022 that is focused on this but that will be for a future blog post. Stay tuned.
I truly believe Sarah, my dad, my response and medical staff saved me from long term damage or even saved my life all together. Will never forget Sarah telling, “Call your dad, you might be having a stroke.”
Do I think being so open about having a stroke might impact if folks might look at me differently or my employability? Whatever, if I can help one person be more aware of strokes then its worth it. Don’t hire or invest in me. You’ll regret it. #125percent
Hope you found my post interesting! Comment or reach out!
First, let me take a step back. About ten years ago, I was about 60 pounds overweight and horribly out of shape. I told myself that I wanted to be alive for when my girls got married so I went on this big health kick. I started CrossFit, cut out carbs, cut back my drinking and just started being more healthy. It worked. I lost a ton of weight and was in the best shape of my life. Fast forward today, I consider myself a healthy person.
CrossFit 2-3 times a week
Jog 2-3 times a week
Training for a half marathon in January
Avid skier (35+ days last season)
New mountain biker
Lots of hikes and walks
Low blood pressure
But, it didn’t matter. I still had a stroke. Lesson learned, life is random as fuck.
It all started out one Saturday morning in November. I woke up like a normal Saturday but for some reason I had a peculiar headache. A headache that just felt different. So much so that I told Sarah, “Honey, I have a strange headache”. Other than the passing observation, I didn’t think much of it. I popped two Aleve and headed to CrossFit for my usual Saturday WOD. It was a partner WOD and I ended up working out with a trainer visiting from Montana. Super cool dude. Not a noticeably hard workout but I had been pulling back heavier weights because of strain on my back and joints ahead of the ski season.
Sunday. I spend most of the day raking leaves in the yard and taking care of odds and ends. That evening after we came back home from dinner I crouched down to tie my shoe and my left leg started to feel weird when I got up. I’m pretty sure whatever was happening to my brain had started that weekend. I just went to bed thinking I had pushed myself too hard with the yard work all day.
Monday morning — I was supposed to go to the 5:15am CrossFit WOD like I usually do but I slept right through my alarm. That’s was odd. I got up a little later and reached for my phone like I usually do to check on things at work — my right hand and arm just didn’t feel right. I could not scroll through notifications or type normally. I kept having to shake my arm out thinking my arm was still asleep. I got up thinking that it was a transitory issue — got the kids to the school bus and walked the dog. I went for a jog afterwards since I didn’t make it to the gym. My right arm felt like it was barely attached appendage on my body. At that point, I knew something was going on. Jumped in the shower and really got concerned when I couldn’t button my pants or put my watch on. I went to reach for a bottle of baby aspirin in the kitchen and could not grip the bottle. I called Sarah and told her something was up. She asked me casually, “Could you be having a stroke?”. How prescient. I called my dad who is a doctor. We ran through some basic stroke questions and recommended that I get to the emergency room as soon as possible. Oh boy, here we go.
Generally speaking, I tend to be a cool person during a crisis. I have had to deal with that a lot as part of my job. So, I was staying cool and could feel the adrenaline start to flow. It was 9:30am at this point and I have a work meeting with my Vice Presidents to get the week going. I jumped on the Zoom just to tell them that I was headed to the emergency room — I was shaking my right arm trying to get some feeling back. Trying to click on my touch pad was like my arm was replaced with a whiffle ball bat. I just didn’t have any control of it. I told my staff and they immediately told me get off the Zoom and get going. My team at work is the best and have been the best since I’ve been going through this. More specifically, my CEO at work has been absolutely amazing through this. Probably one of the best CEO’s I’ve had the opportunity to work for.
Ok, bad decision time. I went upstairs to grab my shoes. I couldn’t tie my shoes so I tucked my laces into my socks. Rather than call 911, I jumped into my car and drove myself to the hospital. Dumb. I should have called for an ambulance. I didn’t have enough control in my right arm to effectively use the touch screen properly. In my head, if something bad happened, I would hit the autopilot button and the car would take me to the rest of the way and maybe I would be some poster boy for autonomous driving. Haha. Dumb. But I did have enough control to find some Christmas music to play while I drove. So, there I was cruising down the highway driving with my left arm, listening to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, shoe laces tucked into my socks like a homeless man and having a stroke. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself that this is ridiculous.
I made it the Park City Hospital Emergency Room. Hazzah! This part becomes a bit of blur because it went from listening to “White Christmas” to turbo mode. I checked myself in and sat down for 1.5 seconds before a group of health care workers came out to help me. At that point, I was dropping things all over the place because I instinctively hand things to my right hand that effectively stopped working. I was whisked into the emergency room and I could hear the head nurse say “Move it. We have a stroke.”. She noticed that I heard her and said to me, “Don’t worry. That is just to get people moving.”
Then, a full battery of tests — blood pressure, temperature, IV, CAT scan #1, CAT scan #2 with some die that almost made me pee my pants, MRI #1, CAT scan #3, blood, more blood, COVID test, and even more blood.
Long story short, they found a blood clot on the top of my head and bleeding. Well, that earned me a ticket on the life flight helicopter to the primary Neurological ICU. It got super real at that point. Sarah looked at me and asked me if I wanted to leave a message for the girls. I’ve never had any brain trauma before so my thoughts went to all the scary stories I’ve read on brain surgery or stroke treatment.
The helicopter took 8 minutes to get to Park City and it was a quick 8 minute flight over Park City Mountain to get to its destination. The Canyons side of Park City Mountain has a lift called the “Orange Bubble Express” that I easily identifiable because each chair has an orange shield that riders can pull down on windy days. It connects the main resort to some epic trails that Brooklyn and I spent a ton of time last season skiing. The helicopter flew right over the Orange Bubble Express — so low it felt like I could touch the peaks. I thought to myself, “well, those were good times”. I won’t lie, the fragility of my own mortality became very real at that point.
I spent a little less than a week at the hospital with most of that time in the Neurological ICU with the most amazing medical professionals. I am so grateful for all of them and the care they provided me. I owe my life to them. Sarah was at my side through it all. Both sets of parents flew in to provide support. Our new Park City Community provided dinners and support. The messages from friends and family. All the soup! It was amazing. I am truly grateful for it all.
My doctor told me that I hit the lottery twice. The first was having this type of stroke at my age. This type of stroke impacts only 3 out of 1,000,000. The second was making my way out of the stroke with likely no long term damage. I’m more grateful for the later. Haha. My prognosis is for a full recovery and I’m taking the time now to heal. The brain needs to heal in ways I’ve never really realized.
So, what higher level observations through all of this?
Life is short. Life is fragile. Find your joy.
I’ve gained a deep level of Perspective and gratitude. It’s good to be alive.
Know the signs of a stroke and go immediately to the hospital.
Don’t drive yourself to the emergency room regardless if your car can drive you there on its own.
Listen to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” during stressful times.
I’m so grateful for my journey through this that I’m going to donate and raise money for the American Stroke Association (a subsidiary of the American Heart Association). Stay tuned for the GoFundMe. I’m also going to see what other creative things I can do to educate of strokes and help those that have had one. Did you know —
In 2018, 1 in every 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease was due to stroke.1
Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.2
Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.2
About 185,000 strokes—nearly 1 of 4—are in people who have had a previous stroke.2
About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked.2
Stroke-related costs in the United States came to nearly $46 billion between 2014 and 2015.2 This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.2 Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.2 [reference link]
I’ll provide a follow up post with my recovery. I can’t think of a better place to heal and reflect than Park City, Utah — for a resurgence going into the second half of my life living life at 1000%!
Thank you all for the support. Onward and upward!
“Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Stephen King