It could be worse. I could be dead.
About four months ago I had a heart attack.
On March 22nd, 2013, just three days after producing a wine tasting event in Baltimore to help raise money for the Poe House and Museum there.
Until then, things were going pretty well. I was writing regularly and painting (I have two novels that I think are finished and I need to stop fooling with them). The wine tasting that Saturday, the 19th of March, was the second event in about two months (the annual Poe Birthday event was in January) that I had produced with Jeff Jerome. I was working very hard with Poe Baltimore, Inc. doing all I could with that group to make the re-opening of The Poe House for the public happen sooner than later (more on all that in future posts). The second issue of Poe Forevermore magazine was about to go to press, and I was developing Poe Forevermore Radio Theater...
Up to my neck with Poe and my other freelance work when, whammo, Tuesday morning the 22nd it all stopped in its tracks.
About 11 am (statistically a typical time) after about 8 or 9 cigarettes and my third cup of coffee... Chest pain. Back pain. Arms going heavy and numb. Then cold sweats and shivers and I'm calling 911 while packing my bag with cell phones and notebooks and laptop, telling the operator I'm having a heart attack and I'll meet the ambulance crew on the front porch. I was and I did.
As I lay in the hospital bed, cursing my 40-something self for the stress, for the smoking, for the lack of sleep and bad diet; for all that contributed to my situation, I made a decision to take it all very seriously, and change everything about my life that I'd been doing wrong that made my heart attack possible. And before I bore you any further with news of my health and my trials and tribulations, for they aren't unusual—there is absolutely nothing special about what happened to me-- this is where you, dear readers, come in. For this is when I made the decision to stop everything, and really repair myself. And you allowed me to do that, and for that I will be forever grateful.
I took “getting well” seriously. I quit smoking that day and haven't had a cigarette since. I have radically changed my diet and have built up my strength where I am exercising and have lost weight. But I also stopped all work then, and that meant the production of the magazine, too. It was an attempt to alleviate all (or a lot of) stress; to begin to manage it better that I had before. To be able to clean up shop and press “re-set”.
The recovery period over the last four months has been very successful, I think, especially physically. The entire ordeal was a shock to my system; especially the abrupt cessation of smoking, and the sudden elimination of bad/processed/non-food food I was eating. The first week was in the hospital, naturally as they watched my reaction to the stet and the new drugs they were giving me; the second week was at a brother's house (who didn't smoke) recovering from BEING in the hospital (and getting my first real good sleep in ages). The next month was a bit of a roller coaster, but it's gotten much better, every day, until I can say that-- although this is all still very new-- I am doing really well now. There have been ups and downs, in reality, but let's stay positive...generally things have gone really well.
Except, none of my doctors said anything about the depression that might set in during this period. In fact, it was a reader on Facebook who casually warned me to “watch out for the post-heart attack depression”.
By then I realized, about two months into recovery when I read this friendly caution, that that was indeed what I was dealing with atop everything else, and that this quiet, stealth-like depression was compounding my recovery, and my sense of well-being.
But enough of all of this.
Undoubtedly I will talk about my heart attack and make reference to it in public as it's all very new to me (and I apologize in advance to you), and this whole thing has changed me completely. The good news however, in delaying the magazine in particular, is that I think it's given me and a chance to make it even better.
Not only that, the delay forced a couple of things sooner than later in its growth and evolution. We have so much great material, that each issue will get a few extra pages, and we are upping the number of issues per year from five to six issues total.
So--I'm back in action, and incredibly happy to be working with the team again: Theresa, Jen, Zack and all of the writers and artists. Issues 2 and 3 are in the production/printing pipeline, and I'm very excited to get the next issues into your hands.
Thank you for giving me some time to heal and get back on my feet. I intend, on a personal level, to get healthier than I was when I was 30. On a professional level, the space you gave me has given me the time to re-double my efforts to make the best magazine I know how, and to not let you down.
With tears of gratitude mixed with excitement for the future, again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Publisher, Poe Forevermore Magazine
ps--Could be worse? I could be dead? Not for too many, it seems. And I'm okay with that. But rest assured that I've put things in place that, regardless of what may happen to me in the future, the production of the magazine will not be stopped again, now that it's resuming as "the little engine that could"!