“I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.” ~ Neil Armstrong
It was on April 23, 2011 that I became familiar with the finite number of heartbeats a person has in his or her life. It was at the beginning of the Vigil Mass of Easter and I was concelebrating with Fr. Rick Holy. That was the first time he was the celebrant for the Vigil Mass and I was there for “backup”. I had finished singing the Exsultet and had sat down for the readings when I began to get dizzy and my heart began racing.
As it was not slowing down, I ask Deacon Joe to get one of the police officers that was in the congregation and meet me in the sacristy. When they got to the sacristy, after a real short check, the officer was on the radio calling an ambulance. I was admitted that night and discharged on Easter Monday with the understanding that I would go home, rest, and do absolutely nothing until later that week when I could meet the cardiologist for a stress test.
When I went for the stress test, I finished and a follow up date was set for me to come in and discuss the results. At breakfast immediately afterward, I received a call from the doctor’s office to come back in right away. When I met the cardiologist, he showed me the result of the stress test and told me that it looked like two-thirds of my heart was dead.
You could imagine my shock. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. An appointment was made for an angiogram. The results of the angiogram showed a bit of buildup in one artery associated with age but, other than that, nothing else. What did show was that my heart had already developed collateral arteries to feed the areas of my heart that were still alive.
The best guess was that about ten years prior I had a virus settle into my heart muscle and an autoimmune response killed the muscle in order to kill the virus. So, now, I have a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted giving me what I need to beat properly.
I know the number of artificial beats that I have left. The pacemaker’s battery will run out next autumn and will need to be replaced. The number of actual heartbeats, though? No one knows but God. Which is why we need to treasure each day and use each day to its max in order to give Him the praise that is His due.
I think about some of the heartbeats prior to that hospitalization that I most likely wasted in my life. Like Armstrong, I don’t want to waste any more. I encourage you not to waste any of yours, either.
FAITH ACTION: Make every moment of today count. Do it all for the glory of God.