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The Final Episode

You may have noticed how erratic my episodes have been over the past couple of months. I apologize for that, but there is a good reason for it!


In early July, I’m sitting on the sofa, feeling as if I’m getting the flu — sweaty, lethargic, just feeling a bit off. However, within a few minutes, my Apple Watch confirms that I’m experiencing A-Fib and suggests I go to the hospital immediately.


When I arrive, things move quickly. I’m immediately brought into a small room and hooked up to an EKG. In no time at all, the nurse turns to another. “Donna.” Donna takes one look at my EKG and turns to a doctor. “Mike.” Mike doesn’t hesitate, telling them where to bring me and what to do. A team of doctors and nurses are waiting for me. They stabilize me, and several hours later, I’m heading up to a room.


The next day starts with a coronary catheterization. “A 30-year-old would like to have your arteries,” the doctor tells me. “They’re in excellent condition.” “So I’ve got nothing to worry about,” I think. I couldn’t be more wrong.


The next day brings a few more tests, and the doctor shares the results. “You have aortic stenosis. In fact, the valve is barely functioning and must be replaced within the next few days. We don’t do that here, so you have a choice of which hospital to go to.


It doesn’t take long for Jeanne and me to decide on Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston — one of the top cardiac hospitals in the country and only an hour from our home in Rhode Island. The next morning, I am, as the Dropkick Murphy’s song goes, shipping up to Boston … for open heart surgery. What a way to spend my 65th birthday.


Over the next couple of days, I meet with my surgeon several times. Dr. Kim De la Cruz, the section chief and an aortic specialist, has a wonderful bedside manner and a hearty, reassuring laugh. I am confident and ready.


Everything goes well during the surgery, and it looks like I’ll be home in five or six days. But my heart has other ideas. Liking the attention from the nurses, doctors, and the rest of the staff, it decides to act up so I can continue to enjoy the pampering for a while longer.


Over the next two weeks, I have another operation (although not nearly as invasive) and two procedures, including one where they chemically stop my heart and restart it within seconds … while I’m awake. The doctor overseeing that procedure said it would be excruciating, and she was not lying!


I spend almost the month of July in the hospital. In some ways, it seems like I was there for several months; in others, it seems to have flown by. Thankfully, other than follow-ups, it’s all in the past.


I realize that I’m extremely fortunate. Dr. De la Cruz said that of the thousands of aortic valves he’s worked on, mine is in the top 10 — if not the top five — of the most calcified. It seems I could have had — and probably should have had — a serious, if not fatal, heart attack.


Now I’m recuperating, and at a faster pace than expected. But it’s still going to be a while before I’m back to my full workload. So something has to give. And since my favorite part of being a speaking coach is working with my clients, then, for now, as much as I enjoy my podcast, I am going to stop it. Someday, it may be back. But in the meantime, I’d like to thank my guests for making this such a helpful, entertaining podcast. And, of course, I’d like to thank you for listening.


If you’d like to check out my multi-award-winning book, The Captivating Speaker, it’s available on Amazon. Just click on the link in the show notes. If you want to work directly with me, go to and click on the link to schedule a free consultation.