Over a period of seven years, I became what I ironically refer to as a “triple winner.” In 2010 I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. In 2016 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and in 2017 I was diagnosed with severe cervical spine degenerative disc disease. The CAD diagnosis led to a heart attack and some stents. The PC diagnosis led to surgery, as did the spine disease.
Music for good health
Fortunately, all treatments and procedures went well, and I haven’t had any more bad news for over two years. Having just turned seventy-two, I feel like I’m in good shape to enjoy the next decade of my life.
When I was younger I learned to play guitar well enough to entertain myself, serenade my wife (or drive her crazy), and sit in with friends from time-to-time. I also learned to play blues harmonica well enough to get “in the pocket” while playing along with a standard three-chord, twelve-bar blues song, and to pick out a melody here and there. I don’t consider myself a musician, just someone who loves to play music.
Over time I’ve found playing music to be a great form of therapy. It allows me to be creative, be social, and, when I’m motivated, to be disciplined. It’s right in there with exercising and writing as my preferred means for maintaining good mental and physical health, and there’s a spiritual component as well. Music has certainly been a great comfort throughout all of my health challenges. And nothing feels better than playing with friends and those moments when it all comes together.
A new type of concert
A few years ago I started playing in an annual New Year’s Eve concert featuring a variety of bands, solo artists, and small groups. I’ve played with bands and as a duo with a friend. It’s an event I look forward to every year.
This year the concert is going to be live on Zoom. It’s a challenge, but everyone involved is up for it. I started a blues band, Beat the Devil, with a group of five friends, to participate in the event. We’ll perform a seven-song set and then yield the stage to another band. I get to play harmonica on some of my favorite blues songs plus on an oldie, “Runaway,” as performed by one of my most admired artists, Bonnie Raitt.
Let the good times roll
Without question, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in my lifetime. I’ve been fortunate to stay healthy, as have my family members, and to have been around long enough to put major events in perspective. I insist on remaining positive about life.
I don’t say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that comes my way, but I find that more ‘yes’ and less ‘no’ is the healthiest and most life-affirming approach for me. And by saying ‘yes’ I feel like I’m expressing my gratitude for the life I have and the challenges I’ve overcome.
So put on your hats, get out your noisemakers, and, like the song says, “Let the good times roll!”
Do you use exercise to help manage your heart failure?