I was 33 years old, and my wife and I were expecting our first child. It was 9 a.m. on a typical Tuesday morning. I was in a business meeting going over our company goals, and out of nowhere, a cold sweat came over me, and my heart began beating very quickly – as if it might beat out of my chest. A coworker drove me to the Emergency. I was hooked up to an EKG machine, which confirmed that my heart was beating rapidly and irregularly.

After attempting a few non-invasive options, nothing seemed to work. My heartbeat was still abnormal. The doctor explained that the heart is a muscle tissue pump regulated by an electrical system. There was a lot of electrical activity around my heart, and the reset button needed to be pushed. “Well, John, we need to defibrillate your heart, and then our hope is your body’s natural pacemaker will be re-established with a normal rhythm.” I had to ask, “You’re going to stop my heart so it can start again with a normal heartbeat?”

Many things go through your mind when faced with uncertainty. Is my soul ready? Do I have enough life insurance, and will my wife and unborn child be financially secure if I don’t wake up?

As they put on the anesthesia mask and the world started to fade around me, my faith told me that there was a better place for me. I also knew that because I had life insurance, if things didn’t work out, Teri would be fine and could even maintain our current lifestyle. As I woke from what seemed like one second to eternity, the nurse asked me my name and age. “My name is John Luksa, and I am 19 years old!” That answer prompted many laughs in the OR, and the nurse responded, “Welcome back!”

In the next few months, I was tested by a cardiologist who confirmed I had a healthy heart. However, the doctors attributed my experience to stress, caffeine, and high blood pressure. Coming from a family with a history of high blood pressure and cholesterol, I decided to work on reducing those risks. I’m still on this program today, which includes lifestyle changes; exercise, drinking decaffeinated tea, engaging in a few relaxing activities or hobbies, and spending more time with family.

Although my health emergency had felt like a curse at the time, it ended up being a blessing. It gave me a second chance to be more present to my loved ones and the ability to reassess the proper protection and legacy I wanted to leave them in my absence.

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