How To Give God A Good Laugh

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - January 03, 2007
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The last holiday house guests are airported, the glitter litter vacuumed, fridge leftovers eaten or organized, the crooked little Norfolk pine undecorated and returned to the garden, and the delicate Nativity figures - the most prominent element of our Christmas decor - wrapped and stored. In the welcome peacefulness we replay in our minds the “Silent Nights” of Christmas services, the rich taste of nog, and the laughter of grandkids. It was good.

Plans for the new year are shaped by the events of the old one, and 2006 taught many lessons to build upon. The first half of the year was fairly normal, but then came July. After watching the early campaign posturing by Democrats Sen. Akaka and Rep. Case, it appeared the political stars may be in alignment for a viable Republican candidate to win the race for the U.S. Senate, thereby bringing some badly needed balance to Hawaii’s congressional delegation. So I stepped up.

After a hectic few days of filing my candidacy and laying the groundwork - both here and in Washington, D.C. - I embarked upon a previously committed 12-day humanitarian mission to Africa (which will be covered in a subsequent column). After six days in the kingdom of Swaziland and a day in the fifth-world country of Malawi, we received word that my wife’s (Susan Page) mother had suddenly passed away.

This resulted in a hasty and hectic return to the U.S. (Please check “Susan’s Page” in this issue for more details).

The morning after Mom’s graveside service, I awoke to the chest-binding pain of a heart attack. The angiogram showed the need for triple bypass surgery, and I knew the political campaign was over, and that our immediate future would be different from what we had planned. We had no idea just how much different it would be. There’s an old adage that says “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Indeed, He did have other plans for us. Suffice to say, we would soon feel like the little Morton’s Salt girl, “When it rains, it pours.”

Just a word on cardiovascular disease: This was my third heart “episode.” In 1991, in response to mild chest pain (angina) while jogging, a local-but-no-longer-here cardiolo-gist botched an angioplasty (inflating a tiny balloon in the artery to open a blockage) inducing a heart attack, automatically requiring double bypass surgery. In 2002 I awoke one morning with a heart attack similar to this last one, but this time blockages were cleared with successful angioplasty.

All of this, including the most recent attack, came with none of the usual pre-indications: no family history, never smoked, normal blood pressure, low cholesterol, no excess weight, good exercise habits and decent diet. As difficult as it is to accept, I simply have cardiovascular disease and I have to stay on top of it. I’ll be getting semi-annual stress tests (EKG while on a treadmill) and annual heart scans to monitor the arteries and bypasses in my heart, and, of course, continue to exercise and eat right. I share this only to emphasize we should never take our heart health for granted.

As I conclude this column, I’ll just say I am back to my normal activities (whatever “normal” is!). And since there is no end of issues on which to comment, I’m looking forward to making my 2007 contribution - if not in the U.S. Senate - by enjoying the privilege of sharing my thoughts in the pages of your weekly MidWeek. I’ll start by wishing each of you the brightest and most blessed new year possible.

Do I hear God chuckling?

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