If Only

So it’s been almost a week since the passing of Kidd Kraddick (see previous post) and I still can’t seem to let it go.

Primarily because it was preventable!

As it turns out, Kidd did die of heart disease rather than an aneurism that was initially reported.  According to the deputy coroner, a preliminary autopsy showed Kraddick had an enlarged heart and three coronary arteries were blocked to varying degrees, somewhere between 40 and 80 percent.  Equally critical is that it’s now being reported that he’d had warning signs in the days before he died.

Kidd’s premature death was preventable!

I can say that with confidence even though I’m not a doctor or a coroner.  The reason is that for 14 years I’ve had the privilege of working at the CooperAerobicsCenter and there is not a week, or more often a day, that goes by that the doctors at Cooper Clinic don’t identify heart disease in patients of varying conditions; young and old, obese and skinny, fit or unfit.  Heart disease doesn’t care who you are or what you look like.  It doesn’t care about your parents or if your cholesterol level is below 200.  It also doesn’t care if you’ve run a marathon or completed an Ironman.  No matter who you are please stop thinking that you’re Superman or Superwoman-you’re not!

Dr. Cooper has been practicing medicine for over 50 years and he’s said many times that the hardest thing he ever hears are the two words, “If only.”  As in, “Doc, if only I had listened to you years ago I wouldn’t be in the condition I am now.”  And those are the lucky ones.  Even though their quality of life is compromised at least they are still alive!

The thing that bugs me so much about the passing of Kidd is that he had such an amazing gift that touched literally millions of lives and now he’s gone. At 53. 53!

I’m 56 and I keep thinking about all the things I would have missed out on if I had died three years ago…heck, even three months ago!

Lo and TW-Walk

In May my son Andrew graduated from college and one week later I walked my daughter, Lauren, down the aisle as she married a wonderful man named Scott.  In June, Andrew and I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  These were all huge life events that I would have never had a chance to experience had I prematurely succumbed to a PREVENTABLE event!

TW-Drew-Killi Summit-6-27-13We are all here for a very short period of time.  It’s a cliché but every day truly is a gift.  Please don’t take your health for granted….and yes, men, I’m mostly talking to you.

I get it. Our healthcare system in the U.S. is complicated, expensive and frustrating.  However, our health care is the best in the world!  I guarantee that with the combination of blood work, a maximal stress test, and coronary calcification assessment Kidd would still be here.

The odds are huge that there are many people who love and depend on you.  Please don’t be selfish and ignore your health.  Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll have to tell your doctor or loved one, “If only.”

A Cleaner Campground

Kidd KraddickI got punched right in the face this morning.  Not literally, but when I opened the Dallas Morning News I learned that Kidd Kraddick had died suddenly on Saturday while hosting a charity golf tournament near New Orleans.

Now at this point I suspect you fit into one of two buckets.  Either you have never heard of Kidd or you knew just about every aspect of his life.  Kidd was a longtime broadcaster in Dallas/Ft. Worth who hosted a nationally syndicated morning radio program heard in over 70 markets around the country.  He was an incredible, award-winning talent that understood the art of communication and “mass media connection” better than anyone I ever heard.

I had meet Kidd through broadcasting circles and media events in the late 90s but had not spoken to him in over 12 years.  That’s not to say we had drifted apart. Quite the contrary.  Kidd’s flagship station in Dallas, KISS FM, was one of three stations in “my rotation” during my morning commute. Each weekday I would get an update on what was going on “in the world of Kidd” and his perfectly crafted team of fellow broadcasters which included Kellie, Big Al, Jenna and J Si.

Most of the time the topics were not deep nor particularly thought-provoking but inevitably I would smile and often actually laugh out loud.  That was Kidd’s true gift, the ability to make people smile.

The initial news reports did not reveal a cause of death so my initial reaction was it must have been a heart attack.  Kidd was only 53.  He was weight appropriate, and worked out regularly but also worked in an amazingly stressful bubble where, as far as I get tell, he was rarely able to decompress.   Heart disease continues to be the number one killer in this country and more times than not the first symptom, unfortunately, is sudden death (55% of men and 68% of women).

However, as of now, the reports are indicating that Kidd most likely suffered a brain aneurism.  While an aneurism is far less common than a heart attack it reminds me that now all of the recent research seems to show that what is “good for the heart” is also “good for the brain.”  Other than a terribly stressful occupation I have no idea if Kidd had any risk factors for heart disease or stroke and who knows if an aneurism could have possibly been avoided.  All I know is that most of us, especially men, often take our health for granted until it’s too late.

Over his 30+ year career as a broadcaster Kidd Kraddick had a positive impact on millions of people.  He truly “left the campground cleaner than he found it.”  I hope part of his legacy will be to prompt us to be proactive with our health.  It’s clear that no one can do it for us.

I also encourage you to honor the request of his only child, Caroline:

“Please keep me and my family in your prayers and ask the Lord to watch over my daddy.”

Run Proud

I ran a 5K this morning.  Actually “jogged” is a much more accurate description than “ran.”  It was the Run Proud race to help raise money for ALS/MDA.  The race started and finished on the campus of the Cooper Aerobics Center and is named after our former running pro, Diane Proud, who passed away last year from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  She was 59.  Diane was one of the nicest, most sincere individuals I ever met.  She loved helping all runners and triathletes but she had a special fondness for beginners.  Sharing her passion for fitness allowed Diane to impact the lives of hundreds of people in a very positive way.

Today was a perfect day for running….temps in the low 70s with a cool, steady drizzle. Wet, but not enough to get in the way. Just enough to let you feel “connected.”

Before the race I saw Bob Proud, Diane’s husband. He was actually the reason I got up early today. During Diane’s extended three-year illness I often crossed paths with Bob and I was always awed by his unwavering, upbeat spirit. He knew, as did Diane, that a diagnosis of ALS is always, not sometimes, not usually, but ALWAYS fatal. That didn’t deter Bob. He knew that maintaining a high-energy, optimistic attitude was exactly what Diane needed most.

I had not seen or talked to Bob since Diane’s funeral last year and I wanted to shake his hand. I did that about 15 minutes before the race and we talked briefly. I would have liked to talk more but just about everyone involved in the race had known Diane and Bob and like me, they wanted to say hello. I didn’t want to monopolize his time.

At the starting line I saw friend who is a longtime member of the Cooper Fitness Center. We decided to run together although he warned me he was having issues with his I.T. band and wasn’t sure how he would hold up. Normally he wouldn’t have even considered running but, like many of us, he was there because of his love and appreciation of Diane. Sure enough, after less than a quarter of a mile into the run my buddy had to pull out. Doing that is never fun but clearly it was a smart move.

I continued on at a very comfortable (read slow) pace. Soon, as the course extended down a long stretch through a beautiful neighborhood, I looked up and saw Bob running by himself. His pace was right in sync with mine so I gradually began to narrow the gap and after a minute or two we were side by side. We started talking and it wasn’t long before Bob encouraged me to, “Feel free to run ahead. Don’t let me slow you down.” Little did he know I was delighted to be running at such a moderate pace. Even though I’ve been lifting consistently and cycling on a pretty regular basis my running mileage has been down so I was not in a great position to take Bob up on his offer. Besides, for me the opportunity to run with Bob and talk about life far exceeded the need to foolishly push myself to meet some arbitrary 5K time. From a very selfish standpoint, this was a great chance to spend about 30 minutes one on one with a guy that I had really come to respect but had not taken the time to let him know that.

As often is the case when running, we talked about all sorts of things; the radio business, The Rangers pennant race, why for some reason a relatively flat neighborhood suddenly felt like the Newton Hills in Boston! More than once Bob apologized for his slow pace. “My 5K time is now beginning to approach my 10K PR.” I assured him not to worry about it, “No need to apologize.” I reminded him that just the fact we were out running early on a Saturday morning, regardless of the speed, probably put us in the top half of one percent of most Americans as it relates to physical activity! All the research shows that the vast majority of benefit from exercise comes from just getting off the couch. A little bit, on a consistent basis, goes a long way in improving health and quality of life.

As we neared the end of the course and came back onto the Cooper campus there were all sorts of folks cheering us on; friends, family, volunteers, and many runners who had finished before us. Most recognized Bob and were very supportive and enthusiastic. Last year, less than a week before she died, Diane despite the fact she could no longer talk and was so weak she was confined to a golf cart, was at the finish line passing out cupcakes to every single runner that crossed the finish line. This year there was no Diane. I was glad it was raining hard enough to mask the fact I was tearing up a bit. Bob quickly was surrounded by a crowd of well-wishers so I gave him a high-five and began my post race recovery, which included all sorts of wonderful fare provided by the sponsors. That’s always one of the great treats of finishing an endurance event….all the great treats!

Afterwards I felt great. I had gone on a nice run, seen a lot of friends and co-workers, and it was still early enough so that most of my Saturday was before me. Most importantly though I appreciated the wonderful time I had spent with Bob and I promised myself I would reach out to him soon to schedule a dinner or a workout.

And guess what? This afternoon I got an email from Bob THANKING ME for running WITH HIM this morning! How great is that? I told him the pleasure was all mine…..and I meant it!