Sometimes fear forces smart decisions

The week of June 4, 2017 was a scary week for my health and was a turning point for me. At risk of getting whistled for a TMI foul, I will share a high level summary.

First, my uvula (the fleshy spot in the back of your throat) was swollen to 3-4 times its normal size. This was the fourth time in 2 years that I experienced this issue. It is uncomfortable and pretty painful when eating or drinking anything. The cause of this, at least for me, is the combination of acid reflux and snoring. Both are significantly increased when I have drank too much.

As if the uvula wasn’t enough, I was also starting to experience digestive problems that lasted multiple days. This was very unlike me and was pretty scary. I did lots of research online (terrible decision!) and got even more concerned. But, I deduced that the likely causes were stress, no exercise, high alcohol intake or cancer in every part of my body.

My research on my digestive issues got me to start researching my alcohol consumption. I learned that I was in the category of high risk alcohol consumption, more good news for my health.

With all of this looming over me (plus another high stress week), I did something I have only done one other time in my adult life (in 2000)… I made an appointment with a doctor. Yep, 17 years, no doctor visit. And, I am on the board of a nonprofit medical center and should be a client of the center already. But, I have a touch of white coat syndrome and have avoided doctors. I have also been afraid that I would find out that there is a serious problem somewhere and decided that avoidance was better. But, I did it; I made an appointment for 6/15/2017.

Bad choices have consequences

Every once in a while, there is a day when you make very bad choices and it leads you to take a critical look at your life. That day for me was June 2, 2017 – the Friday night of Memorial Day week.

To set the stage, let me talk about the week leading up to that Friday. First off, it was a short week due to the holiday and that often leads to a more stressful experience than normal in my job. Plus, I had just said goodbye to one of the people who worked for me, the fourth resignation in 4 months on a team of 8 people. Making it worse, I identified a significant morale problem in the team that remained. So, I had a pretty rough week that week. To top it off, I had a project blow up and several executives had lost confidence in me and my team’s ability to deliver. Unfortunately, I had 50% of the positions on my team open and very few options to turn things around. So, I was pretty much over the week and left the office at 3.

I went to one of our common local haunts (Black Creek Bistro) and ordered a drink and waited for my wife to join me. I ended up drinking 2 cocktails and 2-3 beers. We closed out, went home to consolidate vehicles and headed off to dinner at another common place for us Columbus Brewing Company, now just called CBC. While there, we decided that we weren’t in the mood for their food, so we’d just drink and go somewhere else for food. So, I had 2 cocktails and 4 beers. Then, we went to get tacos at Local Cantina where I immediately ordered a Magnum PI, which is a double tall margarita and had a beer afterwards. Plus, I ate a couple tacos. Afterwards, we headed home and I grabbed a beer out of the fridge. So, I ended the day having about 11 drinks in 7 hours.

If you are a fan of Hank Williams Jr’s music, you will know the line “the hangovers hurt worse than they used to”. Well, I lived that line the next day. On Saturday morning, though I almost never get hungover, I woke up and felt horrible. I basically got out of bed and laid on the couch until 10:15 and had an appointment to get my hair cut at 11. I went to my appointment and it was a terrible experience. The whole day was pretty much a loss.

So, the whole thing was painful and was something I didn’t want to relive. It kind of got me thinking about my choices, but I wasn’t really motivated to change anything.