The ability to make a significant life change is never easy, nor is it straight forward. It requires a unique cocktail of motivation, grit, and a relentless elimination of distraction. To even begin these revolutions, one must dig deep and muster up a strong sense of resolve. However, if you are fortunate, this tedious process can be short circuited, even fast tracked.
Jeff Schmidt had one of those significant moments. ‘That’ evening, the one that irreversibly shook up his life, Thursday 3 December, Jeff found himself staring eternity squarely in the face. He had returned home with his two girls. It had been a stressful day capped by a suitably heated, hard-hitting quarrel that left him trembling. He would not generally consider his life stressful, and yet he knew that he ran at a pretty high-octane pace. But that’s OK, because, despite warnings from others, he is, or believed he was, bulletproof. He wore his intensity like a shiny badge of honour. On that evening, however, the engine said ‘no more’; you can’t drive even the most brilliantly engineered sports cars at 5000 RPM indefinitely. It took his mum, who spotted him bent over, clutching his chest, rubbing his arms on FaceTime and his daughter’s subsequent fear-filled plea to get help for him to make the medical call. Reluctantly, in a haze of pain, he did make the call. In minutes an ambulance was there. Pride masking the danger, he couldn’t help but feel that all this commotion was quite unnecessary. The seasoned paramedics quickly assessed his traumatised frame, blood pressure surging through his veins like a blocked firehose. They looked him straight in the eyes, piercing his vanity, and said, “We are taking you to hospital. Now.” These two burly, tattoo-laden men not only had the expertise to see what was physically happening but the gift to see much deeper, to the matters of the heart.
In an instant, or rather a strained, chest-crushing, arm-aching, jaw-clenching series of heart attacks, Jeff was removed from the life he knew, as a (relatively) healthy overambitious 40-something professional and plunged into a strange new world- a hospital. The journey was profound. Along the way there were many bleeps, groans and characters, certainly much soul-searching but, most significantly, there was lifelong change.
This experience too has inspired Jeff to capture, in word and picture, the journey with its complete melee of emotions and adventures. The art, mostly caught in situ, reflects his desire to bottle life’s goodness and capture the now. The book, Heart Attack – Finding hope, joy and inspiration through adversity, is available now from Amazon.