Although it’s not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night, this was the first time I’ve woken up at 12:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning with sharp pain on the left side of my chest. I started to worry when I noticed my left my arm was numb, and it became difficult to catch my breath.
I sat up in bed, wondering if it was a good idea to drive myself to the hospital. Within a minute, my wife had woken up. When I told her what was happening, she immediately got up to drive me to the hospital.
My wife dropped me at the hospital door. I walked in to see a full waiting room of people who had had too much fun on a Saturday night. I braced for the usual ER waiting around, but after I explained my symptoms to the first person I saw, she immediately escorted me to a room and told me to take off my shirt.
The room was so cold. Must have been less than 65 degrees in there. I shivered while she tried to stick all the EKG sensors on my chest. There must have been nine or 12 of them. At the same time, another nurse was sticking an IV in my arm. His first job was to draw blood, and he took a bunch of it. Next, they checked my blood pressure. It was sky high, when I’m usually quite low. I just shivered in the freezing room.
Once the nurse got the EKG contacts on me, she ran the machine, and I could see the machine writing squiggles on the paper. At least my heart was still beating. She grabbed the pages to take them to the doctor, but not before she gave me a couple of blankets, thankfully.
Moments later, an X-ray tech arrived. She had a portable chest X-ray machine. But I had to take the blankets off. It only took a minute. She put something behind me, and the machine took a picture within a few seconds. Then I got my blankets back.
Moments later, the nurse was back, and with her, several doses of nitro. She gave me several doses over several minutes, monitoring my pain, breathing, and blood pressure. My pain was the same. She left.
Twenty minutes later, she was back — this time with morphine. She pumped that stuff into my IV. I was thinking, “Finally, I get to try some narcotics.” I was not impressed. I didn’t get high. Heck, it didn’t touch my chest pain. But it did reduce my blood pressure.
The ER doctor dropped by a couple of times. Mostly to tell me he couldn’t find anything wrong. (“Tell my chest nothing is wrong!” I wanted to say.) Then, after about six hours, he came back and told me I was free to leave, but I needed to visit the cardiologist for a stress test. And I wasn’t to run until after I got the stress test. Oh, and I’d needed to visit my regular physician to order the stress test.
The next day, Monday, I visited my doctor. He immediately ordered the stress test and asked for it STAT. Turns out STAT was the following Thursday. Argh!
I had a whole week of travel booked, so I left for Orlando. But Monday night, I got sick again. Sweaty, blurry vision. I thought I might pass out. However, I kept myself under control. I was with a bunch of people and didn’t want to scare them. The next morning, I canceled the rest of my trip and went home. I was supposed to lead a discussion that week. It’s the first time I’ve ever missed a commitment. I still feel bad about that.
In the end, I was glad to have the days at home. Getting sick the second time made me recognize I needed to make some changes to my diet. My diet wasn’t terrible before, but I allowed myself certain indulgences as I was training for a marathon. It was easy to justify wine a couple of nights a week, or beer and dessert when I wanted, as I was running more than 40 miles a week. (Did you know you can buy Italian Pinot Grigio by the box?) Not drinking in excess, but perhaps a couple of glasses a week, had turned into a couple of glasses a night, four to five days a week.
I’ve now embraced a heart healthy diet. I had already purchased the book The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hymann, M.D. in 2013. I read it and understood low GI foods. I understood it intellectually, but habits are hard to break.
There are other people involved in meals — my wife and son. Making changes to my diet meant there would be changes for them. Changes my 17-year-old son isn’t excited about. Plus, there’s a lot to learn to plan a diet that’s gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free. It took me a solid day to figure out what I could eat. Turns out, chicken, chicken, chicken, fish, and chicken.
I’ve even started making green smoothies. A couple of years ago, I did green smoothies for about six months. Actually, I found one smoothie recipe and had the same one about three times a week. I liked it, but I never figured out how to make any more. This time, I’m setting out to make a different green smoothie every day.
I’ve got a fancy blender, but still, it can be a challenge figuring it all out. How do I prepare the fruit? Why does it sometimes get all gummed up at the top while the blender blades whir uselessly below? A lot of darn questions to figure out for something as simple as putting raw fruit and vegetables in a blender.
I finally got that stress test the ER doctor ordered. I visited the cardiologist, got attached to a dozen EKG sensors, and ran on a treadmill. The cardiologist said I have “excellent exercise capacity.” Heck, my Duke Treadmill Score was 13, suggesting a risk of major adverse cardiac events of less than 1 percent per year. So that’s encouraging.
But it doesn’t clear up anything as to the cause of my chest pain, numbness in my arm, and short-ness of breath.
I did learn something from this experience that applies to what we do. Going through all this helped me understand what our members go through when they try to change their habits by implementing our systems.
First, there’s a lot of resistance in their life. Not only from their own habits and things they have to give up, but also from the people around them. I didn’t want to give up periodic mornings with Whataburger and their bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits. I loved those and wasn’t willing to give them up. But as difficult as it was for me, it’s been even harder on my family. As supportive as my wife is, she’s told me that she’s damn well not giving up eating pizza.
Our members face the same challenges when we suggest changes that’ll solve their problems. Heck, I’m trying to make changes to prevent heart disease, and I’m worried about losing Whataburger? What would you worry about? Think about it.
More importantly, listen to your members when you suggest changes to solve their problems. Are they giving you objections that sound ridiculous? They may be ridiculous to you, but to them, they are real. And, those thoughts pale in comparison to the objections they are getting from their family and/or members of their team in their business.
People are set in their current habits; even if those current habits are causing the very problems they are seeking to solve. And, telling them to “get over it” or “man up” does nothing but push them away. This is why I work with my clients to make the solution they are providing to their members more appealing than what members fear giving up.
Next, it’s damn hard learning something new. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out the green smoothie thing. I’ve found and purchased a few resources, but there is a dizzying array of choices. Which one am I going to like? Which ones will my wife enjoy? Which shake ingredients will make shopping easier? Lots to figure out, and I’m just trying to whip up fruits and vegetables in the blender.
What do your new members have to figure out to implement your solutions? Are there too many choices? Do they have to learn something new? Can you make it easier — especially in the beginning? This is why I work with my clients to make it easy for their members to implement and experience fast results.
Finally, the last hurdle is motivation. I’ve known for years that my diet wasn’t what it should be. I bought the book more than three years ago, but couldn’t find the motivation to make it happen. That is, I couldn’t until I lay shivering in the hospital emergency room, with the staff frantically connected me to an EKG. That got my attention. It gave me the motivation to implement a long-overdue change.
How are you motivating your members? Yes, they have a problem; yes, they want to solve it. But do they really want to make the necessary sacrifices to implement the solution? Do they want to struggle through the learning, make different choices, and give up the beliefs and habits they have grown attached to? Not unless you are continuing to motivate them to the solution. That’s why I work with my clients to use peer support, recognition, and low hurdles to help their members experience easy wins.
You build a vibrant tribe of members by helping your members overcome resistance, making it easy for them to implement your solution and giving them motivation to make the hard choices in their lives. This is how you make a real positive impact on people’s lives, rather than selling some stuff and shipping it out the door. Your vibrant tribe forms a solid foundation of recurring revenue and financial stability for you and your business.
I’ll keep you updated on my journey. So far it’s been several weeks with my new diet. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned if you are interested.