The Higher Summit: Envisioning Life After Heart Surgery

March 17, 2024

The condition that led to my father’s death is what I am confronted with now. At 73, my father chose to leave this earth, forgoing surgery – a decision my sisters and I are at peace with. From my upcoming surgery on April 3, 2024, it will be 11 years and 5 days since his passing.

The Preoccupied Mind

I find my mind preoccupied with my heart when not working on anything else. This started in May 2023 when encouraged by my cardiologist to see a cardiac surgeon, as the dilation was no longer stable. Thoughts began, driven by fear and hypochondria. My chest hurt continually, and meditation filled significant portions of my day. Cognitively, I knew the chest pain was psychosomatic – nothing more than stress from factors outside my control. My chest became the focal point for all that stress.

Unexpected Blessings

My work keeps my mind off my situation. The joy of helping others is indescribable, ironically thanks to two people who eliminated my positions at former companies – one in 2018, two weeks before closing on our new house, and another in 2019, just months before COVID-19. Without those career disruptions, the alignment of my vocational purpose may not have occurred. The universe conspired to put me before people I could guide uniquely. The right people appeared at the perfect times over the past two years, unexpectedly, as if falling from the sky. The gratitude is immense.

A Life of Planning

I am a planner at heart. Major personal planning events included: The 1990 Capital District Earth Day celebration, navigating my son’s miraculous 1993 recovery, our first home construction in 1999, completing my bachelor’s in 2002, diving into home energy sustainability in 2004 then a massive renovation in 2007, Debra’s surprise 50th birthday party in 2010, gifting my parents a 50th anniversary NYC weekend in 2011, my MBA from 2011-2013, building our dream green home from 2017-2018, and finally, preparing for this surgery.

My Father’s Legacy

My mother, sisters and I believe my father knew the severity of his condition I genetically share. His effort to organize financial affairs was impressive. Going through his neatly stacked file folders after his passing became another planning project in March 2011.

Accepting the Inevitable

I too desire my financial affairs in order before the March 31st flight to Cleveland. I am thankful for my mindset shift from fear to acceptance – from fixating on potential challenges, to peace in this being out of my hands, in the hands rated best for my cardiac surgery with excellent outcomes. The blessing of insurance coverage making this top cardiac surgery possible is immense.

Finding Peace of Mind

I have a natural tendency to think through every conceivable problem. This upcoming surgery had this working on overdrive. Hence my chest pain. However, peace now comes with these tendencies restrained. Mindfulness, driven by self-awareness and self-reflection, is the restraint and peacemaker. I can then focus on desired outcomes without fearing lack of control. The gratitude filling my mind that thriving awaits post-surgery is palpable.

Envisioning the Future

I choose to cognitively dwell where Debra naturally does – envisioning, feeling, and tasting a post-recovery existence. Initially impossible when pain and fear consumed me. No more, though cracks emerge from heart rate spikes. Residual chest pain persists as I write this, which I notice with curiosity and grace, without labeling it.  Then it’s back to seeing success ahead. Visualizing being with Debra, my children, grandchild, sisters and mother. Right after that it is visualizing the support I offer to the clients I am here to serve.

A Purposeful Focus

Purposefully, I’ve informed a client I’m scheduling a group session with recently hired managers a few weeks post-surgery to discuss the online coursework I am providing them. Unbeknownst to them, this gives me a post surgery and recovery focus and their new managers an introduction to conscious leadership. A win-win.

I’ll share another secret: I help others with self-leadership because I’ve studied it for over three decades for myself, needing it for myself, choosing to make “betterment” a verb. Thank you to all joining this journey. Looking forward to posting again mid-to-late April, past this peak I’m climbing.

Christian Grieco


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