How 30 Minutes of Intense Chest Pain Changed My Life For Ever – and Will Change Yours Too

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Have you ever had a deep life-changing experience?

An experience which left your previous life in tatters and forced you to face up to life like never before?

There you are – one day simply meandering through life, care-free and thinking that life was going to go on forever.

Then what happens…

Suddenly you are jolted by a thunderbolt – and life is never the same again.

Something happens personally that hits you deeply in the groin of your soul – and you have no choice but to take stock of your life. And then perhaps you can choose to actually start living the life that you really want.

You see we all go through life as if it is going to last forever. In our head and in fairy tales, we get to live happily ever after.

Except that it’s never ever forever. And most of the time, it’s hardly even happy.

And the insane thing is that though logically we know that this life is not going to last forever, we live our lives as if it is going to last forever.

The reality though is that one day we die. And then a few loved ones and many strangers come along to pay their final respects.

They all look as serious and solemn as they can, address your coffin and tell you what a fine fellow you once were.

And soon after all the lofty eulogies which never saw any daylight whilst you were alive, they bury you and throw some mud over you. Or in my case, being of Hindu origin, they’ll burn me. Then scatter the ashes in some polluted river.

The worst and the most harrowing bit is this – like it or not, every day brings you and me closer to just such an ignominious end.

So what comes between now and that solemn but frivolous ending? And when are you going to wake up and get that your clock is ticking?

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock.

We all have two lives. The second one begins when you realise you only have one” – Tom Hiddleston

Are you ready to wake up and truly live your life? Or are you going to be just like the masses who are living with this illusion of immortality?

So what do you do? Become despondent and depressed that this is all there is and what a failure you have been?

Become fatalistic as it’s all going to go belly up one day anyway?

Or do you finally get clear about your life and focus on the legacy you are going to leave behind? And at the same time, you have a blast and have some rip-roaring, rollicking fun along the way!?

How about living a meaningful life?

Living a life without meaning is like being on a train with an unknown destination. You know you are going somewhere – you just don’t know where you are going to end up!

And you might even arrive at your ultimate destination much sooner than you anticipated. Yes, I am talking about the dreaded D-word.

Living a meaningless life and meandering through the years towards your ultimate demise is demoralising. As well as a waste of time and energy. And an insult to our divine creator, whoever she is and wherever she is right now.

Especially when deep down you suspect that there must be a lot more to this thing called life.

We are born, we eat, we copulate, we die. What was the bloody point of it all!?

But just how and at what point do you wake up to the huge majesty and beauty of this thing called life?

It usually takes a life changing experience. A wake-up call completely different from your morning wake-up call.

It jolts you and wakes you up to life, once and for all.

My Wake-Up Call

This is exactly what happened to me recently, only 2 weeks ago – a day before Mother’s Day and just a few days before my birthday.

My own, gift-wrapped wake-up call. My 30 minutes of intense pain. And with it came a number of life lessons.

Lessons which I am going to share with you. And kick-start your life. In the same way I kick-started mine

My life will never be the same again. 

I just know that the best of me is yet to come – as surely as day follows night-time. And as surely as death follows life.

Oops! There I go – I used the dreaded D word again:-).

It happened just a few weeks ago. On a Saturday. In the middle of the day.

The pain in the middle of my chest started slowly but surely. I ignored it. And then I ignored it again. Until it got so painful I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

In such a situation I did what any self-respecting, closet geek would do. I went online and I Googled “chest pain”.

Surely I was not having a heart attack!?

I checked out heart attack symptoms and early warning signs.

I frantically looked through all the symptoms.

My throat was drying up. I was feeling dizzy. And the chest pain was still there. Persistent and hard to ignore.

Damn!

I had 3 of the tell-tale symptoms – and the advice was to call an ambulance if one was not sure at all about a heart attack. Better to be on the safe side.

That’s when I made the first of three life-changing decisions that day. I did the sensible thing – I called for an ambulance.

The man who answered my 999 call was very calm and asked me to go through my symptoms. Even then I kept reassuring him that I didn’t think it was a heart attack but I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t – and I was only following the advice on the website.

He assured me that an ambulance was already on its way even whilst he was still going through the checklist with me.

I was instructed to leave the doors open, eat nothing, take no medicines and just have some gentle sips of water. And wait.

Waited I did. For all of 10 minutes before 2 ambulances showed up and 5 paramedics galloped up to the second floor of the building where I live, fully laden with magical medical gizmos.

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I thanked them for arriving so quickly – and said that since there were so many of them we could even have a party.

They gave me a quizzical look – I reckon they suspected a fraudulent call-out from some attention-seeking weirdo, who was into partying with women in uniform. But I digress. Maybe that will be another arousing blog post soon:-)

I could tell they really meant business. Jokes and parties could wait. Life was calling. Or was it the dreaded D word calling!?

So I simply invited them to my “friends and friend’s friends picnic” later in the summer. They had now better come and join us all in a few months’ time!

They were really incredibly kind and caring. I had such a feast of love in my own home from five strangers – I could have lapped it up for much longer. But life was calling – and someone else in more dire need of medical attention than myself may be missing out whilst I indulged myself.

They were also super-efficient and business-like. They had clearly done this many times before – but I wonder how many times they had been invited to a party!

One asked all the questions and quickly went through the symptoms whilst another started plonking all these wires and test-pads all over my chest.

She asked for permission to shave some hair off my chest for better connectivity – I said she could but only as long as she shaved me uniformly on both sides.

I was clearly on top form that day – heart attack or not, why would you ever not see the lighter side of life!?

To be honest, the chest pain had already subsided by the time they arrived – and I was already beginning to feel a bit foolish for having called them out.

Within less than 10 minutes the ECG test was done – and my ticker was fine. But the blood pressure was rather high, probably due to the panic and tension of the previous half hour.

The paramedics advised me to get some blood tests done immediately so as to be completely sure. Either I could go to the nearest A&E (casualty) department myself or they could take me in the back of an ambulance.

I suddenly felt a bit silly for having all this special attention given to me. After all surely it was just indigestion?

Through that annoying cloud of not wanting to be fussed over, I did make a mental note to work on some self-esteem stuff. A little voice said to me – just enjoy this Arvind, and let someone fuss over you and serve YOU for a change:-)

And that’s when I made my second life-changing decision of the day – I went for the blood tests in the back of the ambulance.

I expected flashing lights and sirens all the way to the hospital but no such luck. I was no longer considered an emergency and I just had to get there quietly and without any fanfare. Of course along the way, I chatted to the lovely paramedic looking after me and I even gifted her a copy of my book – “Get the Life you Love“.

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I had anticipated being at the hospital for a couple of hours whilst the A&E staff did some more blood tests etc. But little did I know what was to come next.

We got there and I simply walked in. No need for a stretcher – I am guessing not many people come out of an ambulance and just walk in!

14 Hours of Hospital – Waiting Agony and Ecstasy

So began 14 hours of hospital tests and examination.

I had another ECG done and some blood taken by a really pleasant nurse. In my head, I nicknamed her Dracula – in an endearing way of course.

And then two hours later, I had another ECG and yet more blood taken by my favourite Dracula nurse.

I was told I had to wait in hospital for at least 12 hours before a definitive blood test could be done which would confirm either way if I had had a heart attack or not.

Apparently the heart releases a certain protein enzyme called troponin within 6 to 12 hours of any cardiac damage and the presence of this enzyme is a definitive indication of some damage.

So began my stay of 14 hours in hospital – I reluctantly cancelled all my social activities that day. But strangely, I chose to not tell any family members or friends about what had happened. I just had this sense of everything was going to be fine.

And of course I didn’t want to be fussed over – clearly I must look into fuss stuff a bit more sometime:-)

Those 14 hours in hospital seemed to drag at times. But I can tell you that your life and mine will go past much faster. Just like that.

It was actually agony for someone as restless as me to be stuck in one place for so long – but also ecstasy as for once I got to rest for a prolonged period and spend some quality time on my own.

However, in those 14 hours as I rested on a hospital bed and waited for the blood test results, I also experienced many worrisome thoughts and searing feelings.

What if this was it?

First I experienced this feeling of sheer helplessness. How could life get me to such a tragic low – being confined to a sorry hospital bed?

My feelings of loneliness and helplessness were not helped by the looks of sympathy from the other patients and visitors.

Surely they could see there was nothing wrong with me or my heart!?

I then experienced deep sadness as I thought of the loved ones I may never see again. And I cried inwardly at the thought of the pain my loved ones would go through if anything ever happened to me. That day or any day.

I went through a whole range of torrid regrets as I looked back on a life of broken promises, unfulfilled potential and missed opportunities. People I had wronged, neglected, ignored. Abused even.

Regrets of all the things I did – and the things I didn’t do. Places I never visited. Things I put off for another day. Feelings of love I never expressed. Relationships I broke up. Girls I never kissed. And indeed, girls I kissed.

Worst of all was this haunting thought of just who I could have been if only. If only I had woken up sooner to the impending end of my time on this planet.

It was with these haunting thoughts that I must have dozed off for a couple of hours – only to be woken up by the night Dracula nurse at around 3 in the morning. Thankfully she nudged me with her hands rather than with her fangs on my throat.

My blood test results were back from the lab. They were negative. Yeah!

And though I had a sense they would be, my deep sense of relief was incredible. I could have kissed that Dracula nurse! She could have even sucked out some blood from my throat and I couldn’t have cared less.

Though I intuitively knew early on that it was not a heart attack, this final confirmation was such a relief and a huge boost.

It was like being given back my life – Xmas had arrived and Santa had just given me the biggest present ever – a chance to really live the life I want.

I felt ready to take on anything and do anything I wanted!

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. When I believe I can, I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.” ~Mahatma Gandhi.

Joking aside about Dracula, these nurses do an incredible job under the most trying of circumstances and for the most demanding of patients.

Florence Nightingale can be happy with her lasting legacy – and what a legacy.

Suddenly a whole new world opened up for me. It was not too late for me to be who I was meant to be.

To create my own lasting legacy.

Like Florence Nightingale did.

The Dracula nurse offered me the option to rest in my hospital bed till the morning, but I was out of there prompto! Besides it was Mother’s Day and I was paying my mother a surprise visit later that morning:-).

The taxi ride home that cold but fresh night was incredibly exhilarating. Life was full of possibilities – and I felt there was so much love all around me.

The taxi driver who took me home couldn’t believe that I had just spent 14 hours in hospital after a suspected heart attack. He said I looked great. And I felt great. Brand spanking new.

Relieved. Resurrected. Revitalised. Ready to conquer anything.

And to share my life-changing lessons. But first let’s do a little ritual with the proverbial middle finger.

Look at your right hand right now. Stick out the middle finger and fold your thumb and other fingers.

Stick the proverbial middle finger to illness and death! And also stick it to your old life and the old you.

Let us start today with making the most of the life you have.

Knowing that our time on this planet is so limited, it’s time for you and me to finally begin to live:-

1. Your Health is your Wealth

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Our bodies are incredible machines – they are designed to last many decades. And barring freak accidents, you and I living in the western world could easily live to 80 years and beyond.

As long as we look after this body and give it optimal self-care and feed it well, it will survive for a long time.

But what good is an able body if the spirit within is dead!?

Funnily enough, whilst I was in hospital a close friend happened to call me – he himself had just recovered from an illness and the phrase he shared with me was that your health is your wealth!

I agreed with him though I didn’t tell him where I was or what I was going through.

The message to me and you is very clear – it’s time to take total self-care now – not tomorrow, not next week, not next month but now.

In that place where broken people come to be fixed, I had this deep realisation of just fragile our lives are – simply hanging on a string, ready to be blown away at any moment at the vagaries of nature.

A lottery of life and death.

I also saw just how ill and broken people can be – broken in both body and spirit.

So please deeply appreciate this – your life is such a gift and is so precious. It is a privilege to have this human body and this human form.

Why would you ever want to abuse your body?

First get a full medical check-up – let’s start with the basics and go from there. Then you can build on that.

Then it is up to you to give your body a chance to give you optimum and lasting service for as long as possible.

Learn to relax – do not stress about anything. Take up meditation to help you relax and get a different perspective on life.

Take up yoga too – this will help you to relax, make you feel and look younger and best of all increase your libido. Believe me – it works!

If nothing else, adopt a daily practice of walking – it’ll do you wonders

And of course, watch what you eat. This is so important and it really drives me mad and saddens me when I see people pumping their body with junk food.

Check out and apply these 14 simple but powerful tips to take total self care of yourself.

Before it’s too late.

As for me, I have already been to my GP who has confirmed that all is well with me though the blood pressure is still slightly on the high side.

I am due to visit him again in 2 months’ time for another assessment and of course during that time I’ll be focusing on even greater self-care. And I’ll be doing even more yoga :-).

2. Just be Yourself

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One of my great realisations in that hospital bed was how much I had to offer the world. I kind of already knew this – but it became even more crystal clear and sharp when I was faced with the stark possibility of suddenly being unable to continue to offer the world what I had to offer.

In the same way, YOU have so much to offer the world.

You are unique with so many wonderful qualities. Yes, you:-).

You are so unique that not even the best and the maddest, baddest scientists can ever create another one like you.

Can you even imagine what the world would be like if there was another person with all your unique and wonderful talents and skills?

Do what I did that day in hospital – look back at your own life in earnest. Look at your heritage and your family background. Think about your education and all your unique life experiences that have brought you to where you are today and made you the person you are.

You are unique – there will never be another one like you. Accept that. Acknowledge that. And appreciate who you are.

You are here to serve the world with all your uniqueness.

YOU are the greatest gift you can give the world.

3. Share All Your Love Whilst You Can

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One of the saddest insights I had that day was all the people I had let go from my life. And those people I had brought so much pain to.

The people I had mistreated, hurt or harmed, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Though I considered myself a loving being, I still held so many petty grudges. And I still withheld my love from so many wonderful people in my life.

As if my fountain of love was limited and there was only so much to go around.

So it’s time for me and you to share and spread your love.

It’s like when you light a number of candles with the flame of one candle. The light from the original candle is not diminished but augmented.

In the same way, let today be the day you truly begin to share your love and your light. The world needs your love more than ever before. Don’t keep it waiting any longer.

“The love you fail to share is the only pain you live with right now in your life” – Shore Slocum

Tell your loved ones just how much they mean to you. And tell them you love them. It’s as simple as that – but so hard for most people to do.

Regular readers will know that I have written about LOVE many times before. Just know and remember that every day until the day of your and my final reckoning, Love is all that matters.

4. Make Your Life an Epic Adventure

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One of my key life values has always been fun – otherwise what’s the point of living?

It’s great to have a childlike attitude and a light-hearted approach to life – but I challenge you to transform your life into an epic adventure!

Life is either a great adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller

Throw out your limitations, let go of your chains of boredom and apathy, and sail out to the seven seas like the sailors of centuries past.

Don the proverbial Tarzan’s outfit and go and find your Jane in the jungle of life, if you haven’t already found her.

Take on saving the gorillas in the mists of Congo – and having a rumble in the jungle with them.

Do whatever that tickles your fancy and your funny bone. Indeed, when was the last time you were truly tickled by anyone?

Embrace life to the full and do not let a single day pass by without a whiff of adventure, and a life lived to the brink.

A life overfilled with multiple glasses of love, joy and sheer unbridled passion.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”― Hunter S. Thompson

Do whatever it takes so that one day you too can look back and say what a ride that was!

5. Get out there and Shine in the World!

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As well as being unique, you are also incredibly smart and far more capable than you think.

Can you remember a time when someone has really moved and inspired you?

Maybe you attended a concert or a sporting event when someone just blew you away with their passion, their skill and their soaring spirit.

Well, you too can experience such highs in your life. Just connect to the Great Spirit within you!

To start with, list all those things that you have done and that you can do that no one else can.

Look at your hobbies and interests outside of your work – and you will see just how competent and capable you are.

Do you play the piano? Can you blow a didgeridoo? Do you salsa or tango? Can you do complex maths in your head? Can you walk into a room full of strangers and be the life and soul of the party?

Are you into scuba-diving? Can you recount all the baseball or cricket scores since the eighties?

Maybe you run marathons before breakfast at the weekend? Or maybe you walk the London Marathon every second year like I do.

Well, there you are! There are umpteen things you can do in your social and work life that no one else can.

No matter what pastimes you engage in, you are THE KING when you are in the middle of those.

Stop under-estimating yourself – go out there and strut your stuff!

You no longer have to wait to shine in the world.

Find your fire – and you too can now set the world alight!

You may ask – where do I start?

Well, the place to start is from exactly where you are at now!

YOU are the leader that the world has been screaming for. Rise up to the challenge. You know it makes sense.

6. Enjoy the Journey and Remember to Lighten Up

Handsome man covering his mouth with his handsWhoever told you that life was meant to be hard and a struggle?

No matter what challenges you are going through, just lighten up!

Life is meant to be easy and flowing, albeit with the occasional challenges that we all go through.

So just lighten up – and remember you are still a child at heart. I mean why would you ever want to grow up anyway!?

Here’s a challenge for you – create a fun thing EVERY day from now onwards. It could be going out on a night-out to a play, a musical gig or a movie.

Or something as simple and easy as a short stroll through your local park. Literally stop and smell the roses.

Just learn to laugh at life. And remember to laugh the loudest at yourself.

Stop taking yourself so seriously!

 

7. Create Your Worthy and Lasting Legacy

My experience of 14 hours in the hospital also opened my eyes to what other people’s lives are really like. And also what goodness there is all around us.

A whole kaleidoscope of humanity went past me that day – a bunch of noisy and playful Arab youths, a grumpy old man suffering skin problems, an Ethiopian monk-like man with a serene face visited by an even more serene but concerned looking young daughter and so on.

And all around them, some incredibly kind human beings, skilfully disguised as doctors, nurses and admin staff, each with an eternal and endearing smile, and genuinely kind words for all the heavy and weary hordes of humanity passing by.

That night just as I was leaving the A&E ward, I got talking to a very upset black guy who had a wound on his head.

I usually don’t refer to people’s colour except in this case it is relevant – he and his brother had been beaten up by a bunch of young guys, and the police were also there, investigating a possible racial attack.

Having had my own blood drawn out by my adorable Dracula nurses so many times that day, I was almost immune to the sight of blood but there was a lot of spilled blood about. My recently okay-ed heart went out to this man and his brother who was still lying prostrate on a ward bed.

Just what sort of a world do we live in? And what world are we creating and leaving behind for our children?

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What struck me in that moment of talking to this person was how we were all so connected – and yet our perceived differences tore us all apart – in our relationships, in our families, in our communities and indeed in our countries.

Yet we are all striving for the same thing – to be happy and to be loved. And ultimately we all want to contribute and make a difference to others, though most of us don’t even realise this.

And this is where you come in. Go out and live your life in such a way that your life becomes a celebration of all that’s so great and noble about human-beings.

You don’t have to aim for something huge and grand such as striving for the Nobel Peace Prize (actually, you CAN if you really want to) but start small by taking a stand for something greater in your family, in your community and in your country.

Feel the fear and change the world anyway.

Ultimately when it comes down to it, your happiness comes from what you bring to the world and those around you.

It’s not about the size of your house. Or the speed and engine capacity of your car. Or heaven forbid, it’s certainly not about how many subscribers follow your blog (mental note to self!).

All that matters at the end of the day is what YOU bring to the world.

By simply choosing to carry out one act of kindness each day, you’ll be making your world a better place. And by the time you are on your deathbed, you’ll have thousands of acts of kindness to look back on:-).

Remember – your lasting and worthy legacy is built not by some grand, noble gesture but by tiny acts of humanity each day.

The Way Forward for Me

During those 14 hours of waiting, I made my third and final life-changing decision.

It was so simple yet so far-reaching – from that point onwards, I simply chose to live the best life I can.

So yes, I already have a great life – my health, a loving family, amazing friends and a beautiful home in the middle of one of the greatest cities in the world. But yet there was a big missing piece.

I was frustrated in my work and not yet achieving what I really wanted. And I am single and I have been single for a while, still searching for that elusive and fabled soulmate:-).

It was my own private joke really – I wrote a best-selling book called “Get the Life you Love” – and yet I was not yet living the life I really wanted!

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People have asked me in the past if I had the life I love – and I used to jokingly say that I was a work-in-progress. Though most areas of my life were working, I was still working on some bits – and I was working on making other bits even better.

But the reality was that in my eyes, I was still a fraud. I was still far from living the life I imagined – and though in most people’s eyes I was doing great, I was defrauding myself.

So I am done with being a fraud. Just watch this space…

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

The Way Forward for YOU

The most important question here is this – when will you stop being a fraud?

When will you stop cheating yourself and the world?

When will you start creating and living the life which you really want?

It’s time.

It’s time to wake up and create your life, your legacy. Don’t wait till the day they are throwing mud over your coffin. Or burning you.

Because like it or not, that dreaded D day is getting closer each day.

I shall end by reminding you of this poignant quote I shared earlier from Tom Hiddleston.

(Coincidentally this quote was sent to me by a new friend just days after my life-changing experience, though  she had no idea of what I had just gone through. But then again, there are no coincidences).

We all have two lives. The second one begins when you realise you only have one” – Tom Hiddleston

Let today be THE DAY you begin your second life.

Some Powerful Life-Changing Questions for You

I invite you to take some time out TODAY to reflect on these life-changing questions:-

What would it be like to live the most powerful life I can?

What does it look like?

What does living my “best” life mean to me?

What will it take for me to make it happen?

What am I really, really good at?

What’s my greatest gift to the world?

What contributions am I making to my loved ones?

What impact am I having on the environment?

What sort of legacy am I creating?

What am I doing that one day my children will be proud of?

These are all powerful and life-changing questions only you can answer.

Reflect on these questions and write down whatever answers that bubble up for you.

Then just dive into my special blog post collection of 101 Ways to Help You Make It Happen which will go a long way to help you create the sort of life you can be proud of in the years to come…

And if you are really brave and ready to play a BIG game, then contact me via my Think Big Coaching website.

Your life will never be the same again. Guaranteed.

LIFEPLAN Course Coming Soon

I end this momentous and deeply personal post by sharing what I am currently creating with a friend – a life-changing, online course based on my best-selling book “Get the Life you Love“.

Look out for more details soon.

In the meantime, go well my friends – and may the force of love be with you on every step of your journey.

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Comments

  1. Cheryl @ Change it live it says:

    Well my love; what an adventure! Here’s to living; thank you 🙂

  2. Gill Boase says:

    Glad to hear that you are fit and healthy,
    was quite moved by your experience and loved your resolution, makes me realise just how lucky I am.
    Hope you will make it down for a visit this year (part of your plan I trust), the world looks wonderful from my garden….xxx Gill