The Gift!

 

By Scott Friedman

Many of you know my commitment to Together We Can Change the World (twcctw.org and www.facebook.com/twcctw) and helping women and girls in SE Asia. However, even I didn’t know the significance of that until recently.

It was February 24th, a festive Friday night, like any other. I had just come home from celebrating the birthday of one of my closest friends. Within a few hours, my body started speaking to me in strange ways. My head started to ache; there was a tightness in my chest; my body seemed heavier; numbness moved from my face to my right arm and then to my left arm. I felt a bit dizzy when I stood up, and I was having trouble swallowing. Many thoughts were racing through my mind, the most prevalent being a warning from a good friend and mentor who’d been the victim of a stroke, Joe Sabah. “Listen to your body, and if ever you feel the symptoms of a stroke, don’t fool around. Call 911 and get yourself to a hospital. Every minute is precious.” Wise advice for any of us!

I googled ‘symptoms of a stroke.’ Sure enough, I had five out of ten. Could I really be having a stroke? So I called Uber (made good sense at the time) and quickly packed a bag for the hospital just in case I’d be there awhile.

I checked in around 2:45 AM and was rushed in for tests. Vitals looked good, blood pressure: normal, heart rate: just a little low, no fever. Another false alarm, perhaps?  It’s like taking your car in to figure out what that annoying noise is, but as soon as you drive into the service garage, it stops. I was feeling better already. Who has time for a stroke, anyway? 

Next up, the MRI. All good, until suddenly they opened the cylinder and I was sweating and nauseous. The tech took one look at me and said, “You’re having a heart attack! We need to get you to the operating room!”  Within minutes, I was on the operating table feeling like the luckiest man still alive.

A few hours later, I was in the ICU with 2 new stents to counteract the 99% blockage in my right coronary artery, causing the heart attack.  Three days later I had another procedure, four more stents, two in two other arteries where I had 80% blockage in each.   Quite ex-stent-sive I know.

Today, six weeks later, I feel great and grateful for such an easy road to recovery and a fresh perspective.

So how do these major events change our lives?  And maybe more importantly, how can we most positively direct that change?

I think it starts with one simple question:  What’s the gift?

As with every life experience we have a choice of the story we will tell ourselves and others. Will we gravitate toward the negative, feel sorry for ourselves, allow ourselves to get angry or depressed, and play the victim?  Or will we look for the lessons, commit to positive future action, and take a stand for what’s most important in our lives?

The game of “What’s the gift?” opens up a world of positive possibility!  It’s so much more fun and exciting, than the self-pity party. So let’s play! 

First, I’d like to serve as a good example and encourage others to get their health checked. I thought eating healthy and working out gave me a free pass to good health. Dummy alert: that’s flawed thinking. I’d recommend a yearly physical at minimum and a heart scan every eighteen months to be safe. Listen to your body! When it starts talking to you in strange ways, pay attention and get it checked out. It’s just not worth the risk!

Second, having a quick brush with my mortality made me think about what’s really important in life. Along with a greater passion to spread my message of using celebration to create happier workplaces and lives is a new sense of urgency to expand Together We Can Change the World’s mission of empowering girls and women in SE Asia to live more fulfilled lives.  Through anti-trafficking, social business, fresh water, and education we can make a difference together.

There is an old Buddhist prayer that states “Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey, so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly filled.”  That may be the best gift of all.

Please join me on this important mission. With your help we can change the lives of even more girls and women who were born into circumstances offering far less opportunity than we have here in the U. S.

It’s easy to support us. Just click on this link. http://twcctw.org/donate/

All donations to TWCCTW are tax-deductible and will help make an impact immediately.  Thanks for the gift!



119 comments

  1. Good luck on your healing. Glad you are still with us!! All of us need to listen to our bodies more intently! Great advice! Happy healing !

  2. So glad you’re better. There’s a reason you’re here, perhaps several of them. We need you. Be well.

    Judy

    • Judy, Thanks! I plan to be around for a long time causing all sorts of trouble! Wishing you all the best!

  3. Feeling grateful you discovered this when time was still on your side. May God continue to bless you in the good work you do for people.

    Dwight

  4. My Dear Pledge-Brother Scott, wow, I’m so glad you’re doing well. A scary experience to be sure. I’m praying for your continued good health and well being. Haven’t communicate with you in a while and wanted to give you some exciting personal news. Like pledge brother Gilbertson, I have joined the ranks of children’s book authors. My illustrated book, Koyo’s Odyssey, has been published and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I hope you’ll check it out as it is a story of resurrection and renewal – a meaty little story of a humble little maple leaf who wishes to know his creator better. I’d be honored if you’d read it. Good thoughts and prayers going your way. – Jim Stevenson,
    SMU ’81

    • Thanks for the prayers!!! Congrats on the new book, sounds like a good read for children of all ages! I’ll check it out.

  5. Hello Scott.

    I just read Jerome’s post on APSS and then your story above and was shivering with what you just experienced. Thankful that you are much better now. May god bless you with an abundance of strength at all times. You are a wonderful loving friend who is bringing so much value to people around the world.

    A big hug from Dubai. See you soon in May. Gautam

  6. Dear Scott,
    This heart attack is a blessing a transcendent experience of revelation which has allowed you to connect to your higher purpose. Suddenly, admist the daily rituals of waking up, getting dressed, going to your Friends’s birthday, and eating, you have blessed a glimpse that there is something more to this life.
    May you get well soon.
    See you in Singapore next month.
    Suresh

    • Suresh,

      A true blessing indeed! I thought there was already so much to this life. Even more? Who knew?! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  7. Leave it to you to joke about such a life threatening event!
    Glad to hear that you are on the mend.
    Hope to see you soon in Singapore.

  8. Omg just read this! I am so glad to hear you are better! Wow that must have been such a scare.. I love you my friend, please call when you get a chance. I miss you !

    • It was a quick scare and over almost as fast as it started. Love you too. Let me know when you’re back in Denver.

  9. I am delighted you got through this. The world is a better place with you in it. I am planning to be in Singapore for a couple of months at the end of the year. Hope to catch up then.

    • Thanks Richard! Glad I’m still around! I should be in Singapore while you’re there. Hope to see you then!

  10. Hey buddy,
    Not glad this all happened to you but very glad you shared the experience. And, of course, even happier that you’re okay now. Watch out for those festive Friday nights!

  11. Scott,

    Had no idea my friend. Prayers for your continued healing. You are always there for others. Glad that you received the good care you needed.Always appreciate your perspective to find and see the gift in everything and to look for the positive in how you live. Blessings buddy!

  12. Thanks for sharing your story Scott period I’m so glad to know that you are doing fine and have restored your health. Congratulations on your work with the girls and Southeast Asia. My passion is working with Navy Seals, Marine Raiders and other special operators helping them to transition from the military to the civilian Workforce. There is nothing more rewarding then helping a group when feels passionate for.

  13. Good for you to have gone to the hospital when you did! So grateful you’re doing well.

    I had my myocardial infarction in December ’93. No stents (they weren’t doing those often back then). Doing just fine today!

    Strength to you, Scott!

  14. Wow Scott that’s intense and SO grateful that you were in the right place and so were your angels. You have even greater gift to give.

  15. Scott, even in adversity you shine a light for us all. Live, laugh and love….your impact is everlasting.

  16. Scotty!!!! Omg …you are a walking miracle! With that kind of blockage, it is amazing you went as long as you did without symptoms!
    Bill and I send love and prayers. When I see you in Orlando this summer, we will run and you can give me more details about your NGO. I am involved now with uwc.org . An amazing 50 year old movement to get kids from around the world to live in community their last 2 years of high school and to learn how from the different cultures, perspectives etc. check it out … and happy birthday, my buddy

  17. Dear Scott – so happy you listened, took appropriate action, & are recovering well. The world would not be the same without the laughter & joy you bring to so many. You have always shown a caring attitude & I am grateful you will continue to CELEBRATE many more birthdays, accomplishments, and new parts of your story. Will be keeping you in my thoughts & prayers, dear friend – enjoy all the precious moments as you continue to do AMAZING work!😊💕

    • Thanks for the kind words, Susan! Let’s keep celebrating!!! Enjoying all those precious moments! See you this summer!

  18. Brother Scott. So glad that you were spared my friend as the gift of life was returned to you in a way you will not soon forget. Like you-i drive myself to the ER for my first two heart attacks. I had the third in the balcony as my son was walking across the stage graduating at LSU. At least the ambulance ride saved me from buying dinner for he and his friends-Ha! But as you nicely stated; with each saved, I received a gift. And with each gift my appreciation of life crew and a desire to give back grew even more. You are the example of giving to others my friend and thank you for the gift of your message. Take care. Bruce

    • Wow, 3 heart attacks, we’re so lucky we still have you! And what a way to get out of buying dinner! Take good care, my friend. 3rd time is a charm, let’s leave it at that!

  19. YOU AND YOUR STORY will alert the World to Listen to your Body.
    Together, let’s make this an ANNUAL STORY.
    In April for your birthday
    And mine in May for my 86th birthday.
    YIPPEE = 13 years Post Stroke

    Together we can build a healthier world.

    • You were my inspiration, Joe. Thanks for being a constant reminder. It sure paid off this time! Thanks for saving my life. I will be forever grateful!

  20. Hey Scott!

    Thank god you moved fast! For 50% of the population, the first attack is also the last!

    Now, that was massive blocks you had! Luckily you did not drop dead on a treadmill. In 2012 I had a 90% block and I know how it feels – an elephant sitting on your chest!! When you’re in KL, I can introduce you to a couple of friends who help out with my charity – Cansurvive. They’ve got German and Russian machines (may not have been approved by FDA) which can help predict these things 5 years before it happens. Early detection and prevention is best for “life-style” diseases.

    Furthermore, you have to understand that it is not really over. Stents are good – but not a cure. If you fail to move towards good health, you will soon need a bypass with more blocks developing. In my case, I took an alternative route. But my quest for the cause, had continued and I think still continues. Why?, why?, why?…. I thought I found the answer a year and a half later. But no… my recent discovery early last month ……. is possibly the actual root cause.

    Don’t stop seeking the reason for it to have happened. It is not genetic! I’ll share my story with you when you’re down in KL or Singapore next. in the meantime, look out for the book – “The Heart of the Matter by Dr Peter Salgo”. I read the book and was searching for further info about him…. and stumbled upon an online TV show that he hosts. Go take a look, pick your health topic and watch the videos hosted by the head of ICU of the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Dr Peter Salgo with a panel of specialists. May be a little scary but you will realize how limited doctors are too. More facts help you make a better, healthier decisions. Here’s the site:

    http://secondopinion-tv.org/

    Until then, take care of your second-life bro.

    Yoga.

  21. Scott,
    Having gone through a recent cancer scare myself, I can totally related but you took it to an extreme. So glad to have you healthy and, hopefully, around for another 40 years. AND, thanks for ‘The Gift’.

    Jim

  22. Dear Scott –
    What a story – and I am thrilled it has such a happy ending! As usual, you share such wisdom and joy with all of us, finding the humor and blessing in everything. May you continue to be a light for all of us, and enjoy great health for decades to come!

  23. Hi Scott. Yes thank. God you are alive. It is gift that allow you to look at life at different angle. what is important in life. Most importantly- to know only Creator God.
    Jonathan heng from sunny singapore

  24. Hi Scott,

    Happy to hear you are healing and please continue to take care of yourself.

    Happy Easter!

    Michelle

  25. Congratulations for listening to your body and taking action. Your work is valued by so so many and the good news is — you’re here to continue its mission — most likely with more energy and passion than ever before.
    Best wishe

  26. Oh Scott what an awakening! I’m so grateful that you had the means to get the right help in time. Whew! You’ve always been the picture of health so it’s more than a head-scratcher as to how this could have happened. It’s amazing that you were able to function so well while your body was busy with its own agenda. If your surgeons had opened your heart in search of love, they would have found it overflowing. We are so fortunate to live in a time when the mechanics can be fixed to keep it flowing for many more birthdays to come. Big love, Lorna

    • Thanks Lorna. So true, what a great time to be alive with the advance of modern medicine! I appreciate your kind words! Lots of love right back at ya!

  27. Yet another unselfish way you make a difference, by sharing your story, with calls for action. No doubt your ‘celebration’ of life is some of your best medicine! You are a gift – and the Buddhist prayer important indeed. Be WELL my dear friend. Always a supporter of you, and, TWCCTW!

  28. Well, sweet friend, Easter is a great time to celebrate the Gift of Life!!! And you also get to celebrate being Passed Over!!! You know how much I can identify with these moments in life where a wrinkle you didn’t plan on appears!!! So so thankful, Scott,that you are here to celebrate the Gift!!! Sending you bundles of love and prayers for ongoing “feel good”!

  29. Gosh…i had no idea Scott. I’m so happy to hear you are on the road back to recovery. Thank you for the advice and reminder on the checkups…it’s something too many of us push aside.

    • Thanks Dianne! Yes,I’m excited to leave in a few weeks for Asia and our next “Together we can Change the World” tour.

  30. Hi Scott, it is a blessing that you were quick in reacting to your symptoms and got yourself to the hospital in time. You are rewarded with all that you do for the less fortunate in SE Asia.
    Take care

  31. Scott
    Sending you love and light for good health to continue your Celebration and your amazingly good work in the world.

  32. Scott,
    I am thrilled to hear you are now doing well. You have so much more to share with the world. Your heart is too big to stop now.
    Thank you for reminding us that each day is a gift, and we need to Celebrate!
    Happy days ahead my friend. Keep changing the world.
    Lenora

  33. Scott,
    So glad to hear that you are on the other side of this. The world will would be a lot less fun without you around. Continue the great work you are doing and thanks for letting us know (even if it’s almost two month later! I had no idea!!!). Happy early birthday my friend. I will touch base with you this week.

    Oh, and I called to schedule my annual physical as a result of reading this!

  34. I had no idea what happened. Boy am I glad you knew just what to do. The world would be different without you! Stay healthy my friend!

  35. Your friend gave sound advise….glad you listened to him and your body. Here’s to continued healthy living and life.

  36. Scott,

    You are a blessing in many ways. Some told and many, untold. Thank God you are doing alright. And true to your spirit, you have made a wonderful gift out of the experience you went through. Thank you for being who you are. You are an inspiration to me, to us.

    Joseph Prabhakar

  37. Scott- So glad to hear that you are better. You should take it easy for awhile. I’d hate to see you cross over❤

  38. YOU ARE THE MOST POSITIVE PERSON I’VE EVER MET !!
    GOD ISNT FINSIHED WITH YOU DOWN HERE YET !!
    KEEP UP YOUR GOOD WORK !!

  39. Heart-felt thanksgivings for your recovery and delighted to hear of your mission. You are an amazing and amusing leader and mentor to so many. Sending an abundance of love and laughter.

  40. Wow! Who knew…you are the picture of health! So glad you are now functioning at full throttle! You are a gift to so many of us…and we are so glad you had angels with you! Love you lots!

  41. Wow! Who knew…you are the picture of health! So glad you are now functioning at full throttle! You are a gift to so many of us…and we are so glad you had angels with you! Love you lots!

  42. Scott, so glad you had great sense to get to the hospital…..be safe in your travels and missions. Thanks for sharing your story….you will save another person because of that message.

  43. Scott, so glad you had great sense to get to the hospital…..be safe in your travels and missions. Thanks for sharing your story….you will save another person because of that message.

  44. Oh, Scotty, I did not know of your health issue, but I will certainly pray for you now and for your expanded mission in Asia. I always believe that when difficult things happen in our lives, we can either be “better” or “bitter” and you are certainly approaching this by being better! You bring so much JOY to this world, dear Friend, that we are all grateful to have you around for some time longer. See you in Orlando.

    Blessings,
    Barbara

  45. Awwww….Much love to you Scott! SOOOOO Glad you are still with us and listened to your body and went in right away!
    Much love!
    -Miranda Clendening
    Best of Huamnity Org

  46. Scott,
    I just heard about this and we are all very lucky that you listened to your body and took action and are still with all of us! There must be more lives for you to touch on this planet.
    To your good health and recovery!!
    Dan

  47. Scott,

    I had not heard about your health scare until just now! I’m so glad to learn that you’re alright now and that you were wise enough to not take the obvious danger signals for granted. I’m sure you’re experience will be used for good for another. God bless you, brother.

  48. Dear Scott –
    I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, and thank G-d you are o.k., have recovered, and are continuing to influence so many lives as you always do! You are a blessing to this world and everyone who has the privilege of meeting you – knows it! Wishing you the best of health going forward. I am beyond relief that you are more than o.k.! Happy, happy birthday! Sending you huge hugs and lots of love,
    Terry

    • Actually, it really wasn’t so bad. Got really lucky, actually. Thanks for your sweet thoughts and big hugs right back at ya.

  49. Hi Scott … I trust you’re back in great health with the ‘repairs’. It was a close call, but you conquered! Thank’s for sharing for what must have been a mighty scary event.
    I wish you continued health and happiness.
    Ricky Lien

  50. G’day Scott!

    I’m blessed with your story.

    Continue to make a difference in the workplace … and in this world …

    Marilou

  51. Oh no! :/……….Praise God that you are okay.
    I am offering prayers for your health. Thanks for some reminders. I so agree.
    Lots of hugs for your birthday!

    Be safe!
    We all love you :)

  52. Hello my dear Scott
    I believe your mission has just begun. I am pleased that you came out of that life threatening experience and am now on your road to recovery. Nonetheless take things easy. If you’re coming to Penang, give me a shout and we could chat over a meal.
    Hoping to meet you again.

    Blessings
    Julina

  53. Hey dear Scott
    Commiserations and congratulations on the pain and the gain
    Sending you my passionate positive provoking thoughts
    Let’s talk soon
    I will call you
    Cheers mate, from Down Under
    Charles

  54. Hi Scott, happy birthday. Thanks for sharing your recent incident – an eye opener for all of us. Wish you good luck and great health. Cheers

  55. Dear Scott

    Good to hear that you are hale and hearty , fit and well after that scary episode to continue doing good things for others .

    The Hawaiian shirts always will protect you wherever you may roam !

    Enjoy every day

    Best rgds

    Tim Savage

  56. Happy Birthday, and might I say that it is great to be able to send this message to an alive version of you! Thank you for sharing your story .. glad that you found out in time.

  57. Scott, I cannot believe that I am just now reading this. Thanking God you are alive and well. Will be thinking about you tonight as your are celebrating your birthday with good friends and my soul sister Sue.
    Love,
    Sue P.

  58. Scott, so I go offline for a while and you have a heart attack! Scary stuff and I am so grateful to hear that you came through it. We all have Joe to thank for educating us so thoroughly about his experience and I am very impressed with your thought to take an Uber although I am also right down the road for the next time. (I take that back….no next time!) Funnily, you have been on my mind as I remember your early years in speaking and a presentation you did for me at Rose Medical Center. You gave all those caregivers a wonderful gift and who knows, maybe one of them was watching over you during all of this. Continue to be well and happy.

    • Thanks Barbara! That was quite a few years ago! So well taken care of by my caregivers this time. Hope all is good with you! ;)

  59. Lots of celebrating to be done yet Scott. Through sharing your story you are sure to have helped someone else. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

  60. Hello Scott, I just read your story, The Gift, in my email. Talking about “gift”, in what you do and with who you are as a person, in the brief time we had personally interacted with each other, I (and I believe among so many), can tell that our good God made you The Gift to many. I thank Him that He still wants you to be around with us for a much longer time.

  61. Scott – thank you for your generosity in sharing this story. What a wise and fortunate man you are! Miss you and please let me know next time you are in Boulder.


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