Why I’m Alive TodayMay 28, 2011 03:44PM ● By Arthur T. Jackson
Sharing appropriate, personal anecdotes as a way of teaching life lessons to children, as suggested in this month’s Inspiration article, “The Power of a Father’s Story,” is one of the many ways fathers can emotionally connect with their children. For local father Doug Eadline, a life-changing event combined with his involvement in the non-profit organization the Mankind Project helped him to realize the significance of sharing his story with his 17-year old daughter, Taylor, as well as his extended family of nieces and nephews and those whose lives they may touch.
Eadline believes children learn, not just from what their elders share, but also from how they see their parents living. He shares this personal life lesson about the importance of paying attention to the body’s warning messages and practicing better self-care.
The Valuable Lesson
Doug Eadline had just finished mowing the lawn when, he recounts, “. . . There was tightness in my chest but I thought it was probably nothing. With too much to do at the time, I couldn’t be bothered with it. Like a sore shoulder, I thought it would just go away.” When the tightness eased after he rested, Eadline, a computer consultant, rationalized that he was just out of shape.
In truth, the tightness had begun gradually three weeks before the lawn mowing incident. While exercising one night, Eadline broke out in a cold sweat, which had never occurred before. In retrospect, he remembers dismissing the experience as nothing because, once again, there were too many other things that needed his attention. “I did consider that maybe I should mention it when I called to refill my allergy medicine,” he says.
That call for the prescription refill turned into a trip to the doctor’s office the next morning at 6:30 a.m. “My father had suffered a heart attack, and as a result, my physician checks me on a regular basis,” he explains.
Looking up from the EKG results, the doctor groaned and sent Eadline immediately to the emergency room where an on-call cardiologist ordered a cardiac catheterrization. After the hour-long procedure, Eadline learned that his left anterior descending artery was 100% blocked. When the cardiologist showed him pictures taken before and after the surgery, Eadline was surprised to see that his artery was wide-open thanks to two stents. He vividly recalls, “I asked the doctor, ‘Why am I not dead?’ and he replied, ‘Your heart grew veins back into the artery to help bring blood to your heart. However, the veins were not a cure; eventually, you would have had a major heart attack.’”
Days after the surgery, with a better understanding of his medical issues, a perplexed Eadline reflected upon the negative thoughts that had kept him disregarding self-care for so long: “Ignore it. Don't bother the doctor. Keep getting the important stuff done. Don't cause problems. You are really not that important.”
Eadline realized that he was alive only because “what truly mattered—my family, friends, and most importantly myself had finally broken through the messages of self-neglect. “I was the worker and provider, the one who gets it done and doesn’t complain,” he recalls. “My judgment—that I did not deserve the care of others—also included denial. If I could find an excuse to ignore my health, I could bypass the fear that comes with being human. Deep down, I was really afraid about growing old and dying.”
Eadline challenges other men to face their fears and negative self-talk squarely: “When the ‘be a disposable man’ messages come, don't listen. Instead, heed more important, life-giving messages: you are important; we need you; you are loved. Be brave and take care of yourself because you are worth it.” Eadline’s second chance at life has inspired him to share this lesson with others, especially the young men in his family who have lots of life ahead of them.”
The ManKind Project® is an educational organization committed to empowering men to missions of service. Their trainings support men to develop their life’s mission and to live it fully with the support of a powerful network of other men. They challenge men to develop lives of integrity, accountability, and connection to emotion, as well as their abilities as leaders, partners, fathers, and elders, in order to offer their deepest gifts in service to the world. With a commitment to self-awareness and universalism, the ManKind Project seeks to create a web of interconnected communities working to change the world for the better.
For information on the ManKind Project, visit ManKindProject.org.