Editor’s note: Ancil Lea, author of this guest commentary, has worked with more than 1,500 physicians, clinics, out-patient surgery centers, and hospitals to help with everything from medical software to healthcare marketing for nearly 30 years. He is the former coordinator for the Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology.
On the topic of health, one of my heroes, Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t pay the price for good health. You pay the price of poor health. You enjoy the benefits of good health.”
I’ve spent the bulk of my 27-year career in the healthcare industry (hard to believe), and today it’s an industry caught up in overwhelming change. The technology solutions and services my company offers are all great, but sometimes we miss what healthcare really is — “care for health” — until we’re the ones seeking care.
This is the time of year for high school football playoff games. The air is crisp, and it’s perfect jacket weather, sometimes a coat, even here in the south. Good times! Three years ago, almost to the day, I traveled to Hot Springs to watch my son, the running back for our high school football team, play in one of these cherished games.
As I was helping get the run-through tunnel ready on the sidelines, I realized I was “in trouble” and going to pass out. I headed to the bleachers and called for my wife before collapsing, barely holding on to consciousness. Our team trainer and others rushed over to help treat me and told me to “hang on.”
It happened that an ambulance had just pulled up, and before I knew it, they were loading me up for transport. I laid in the back of the ambulance as they took me, the team physician (who happened to be a cardiologist from our town), the paramedics, and my wife to National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs. I realized things were out of my control and I would not get to see my son play in his special playoff game.
When I arrived at the hospital, they immediately did a heart cath because they thought I was having a heart attack. I was clear, but they didn’t know what was going on until the next morning when I was diagnosed with severe pancreatitis, which my doctor thought might be fatal. I spent the next two weeks in the hospital and the next couple of years going through multiple surgeries to try to return to health. It has been a journey of recovery.
Experiencing our healthcare system firsthand gave me a HUGE appreciation for nurses, physicians, support staff, and technology. As I work with these guys now, I see things differently, and if I didn’t before, I appreciate what great care is available to us. It goes without saying that I’ve also learned to take better care of myself by exercising, watching my diet, and reducing stress as much as possible.
It is fitting this Thanksgiving that I give thanks for many things, including my life, health, family, and dear friends. And I’m especially thankful for our wonderful healthcare providers and the sweet people who treated and loved me and brought me back to health. I am, and we are, so blessed.