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HomeBreakingOn a Personal Note: Don't Delay a Health Checkup!

On a Personal Note: Don’t Delay a Health Checkup! [Up Against the Wall]


Wow. I was amazed reading about District Attorney Eric Toney’s story about his heart challenges and that he went public with that. That was very brave and frankly, considerate that he urged other men to get a health checkup. (Let’s face it, men generally don’t like going to doctor’s appointments or getting a health checkup or admitting that there maybe something wrong with them.)

Eric talked about how he contracted a bacterial infection that attacked one of his heart valves, requiring him to undergo open heart surgery for a valve replacement. Since he was born with a bi-cuspid valve, the bacteria may have simply come from getting his teeth cleaned at the dentist.

While I had gone public some time ago in commercials on behalf of the American Family Children’s Hospital about my birth defects, I too have had a couple recent health challenges. Like Toney, I was born with a couple heart defects, except one defect was discovered when I was 7. The UW hospital found I had coarctation of the aorta, which is a narrow section, limiting blood flow and oxygen to the body. So I underwent open heart surgery, missing three and a half months of first grade, (I got set back to redo that year), to have the narrow section cut out and the ends stitched together. Problem solved.

Then, when I was 18 with new technology available they found I had a bicuspid aortic valve-like Toney had. Mine was fine at the time, and with a healthy diet, little alcohol, and plenty of exercise, I could go on a long time. In fact, in 2010 my cardiologist said I had the arteries of a 25-year-old that were 100% clean. (I guess a gluten-free and no-beef diet has helped.)

Unfortunately, with the stresses I experienced at work from 2010 to about 2017, my valve deteriorated. (Stress can do that.) So in May 2022, I underwent another open heart surgery to replace the valve with a new high-tech mechanical valve. I like to joke that my new valve comes with a 50 year or 50,000-mile lifetime warranty, whichever comes first! Get it?

Unfortunately, when the doctors did the body scan prior to the open heart surgery, they found a brain aneurysm, arrg! So in September 2023, the neurosurgeon inserted a stent up the leg to block the aneurysm, so now that problem is solved too.

I suppose if they keep looking they could find more! Haha. And I think that is what a lot of guys are afraid of, so they don’t go to the doctor or go in for regular checkups. But you should. In fact, go now while you’re healthy to establish a baseline, that is, you get all the statistical data on yourself (chemical levels, etc.) now – while the numbers are good, so that you can compare those later in life – to see if you are doing well and how you are aging. It’s hard to know if you have something out of whack without a baseline.

I have gone to the Mayo Clinic Executive Health program every two to three years since I was 18. Bonus: They have a nice executive lounge for you, they get you in and out the same day, and they’ll even bump another party if you need a special test so that you can get it done the same day and not make a return trip. (Yes, it costs more, but it’s well worth it.)

Instead of waiting weeks or months for lab results, you and your doctor will be sitting down before noon looking those over together, comparing them to prior year’s results, and likewise, you’ll have your scans and other test results also available to review with specialists before the end of the day. No more hen pecking, you’ll see all the data on the same day, with your doctor; no waiting and no uncertainty.

The reason I share this is because a lot of people think that I’m this asshole developer that’s out to develop our communities. Ok, well, that’s partly true, (which part? you ask), but I try to do it in a thoughtful way and in the best interests of the community. But I wasn’t born perfect like everyone else. I was born very imperfect, with quite a few defects. I was the kid who had to sit out the weightlifting section of gym class in middle school – sitting in the emergency stairwell. I was the kid who went to hundreds of doctors’ appointments while growing up, where dozens of ‘interns’ would be brought in to poke and prod me – come see the miracle kid who survived open heart surgery at 7. I was the kid with the overprotective mom. I was the kid even my friends would make fun of when I took my shirt off – due to the scars.

In 6th grade, I even made a deal with the gym teacher; no matter what team I was on, he’d pick my team as ‘shirts’ vs skins. I was also born dyslexic or maybe that was caused by the lower oxygen level during the first seven years. But in any case, I’m sure you noticed in my columns that sometimes I have the words wrong or I leave out a word. No matter how many times I re-read the columns to verify syntax and correct grammar and words, I still get it wrong. A lot of times I say the wrong words too, and my wife and daughters or someone at work will correct me. Usually, I mix up prefixes and suffixes of adjacent words. In high school, I got in trouble for doing just that, with the English teacher thinking I was either an idiot or making fun of him.

In college, I knew I had a problem, but didn’t know what it was called, but by then I figured out a workaround. Once, in order to get through a calculus exam, I memorized a visual of the formula in my head like a photo in preparation for the exam, and I got it right! (Unfortunately, the professor still marked it wrong, saying he didn’t believe I knew what I was doing, and he was right!) Once I figured out that I was really bad at words and really good at visualizing things, especially in 3D, that’s when I knew that real estate development and building buildings was for me. I can literally take a 2D plan and picture the space in 3D in my head, turning it around 360º. Over the years, I’ve discovered I see things differently than most people.

And that’s what every young person should do, figure out what they are good at, and go for it. Don’t focus on your shortcomings. Focus on the thing you are the best at. I didn’t magically get where I am today by luck. When I was 7 sitting in the hospital bed for that three and a half months, alone, I made a very deliberate decision to work twice as hard as everyone else to get ahead. Why? because I didn’t know how long I had. Fortunately, I beat the odds, but it’s taken hard work – in the form of managing my health every single day.

I was also born with severe food allergies, as were many siblings and one daughter, and so I have to be very careful about what I eat – otherwise, I can become either mildly sick in a day or violently sick within exactly 20 minutes. For the first 30 years, I was sick at least 3 or 4 times a week – from eating the wrong foods. It took that long to figure out the right combination of foods and diet.

Adding to this bad luck, when I was 4, a German shepherd attacked me and ripped one-third of my left ear off. Lucky me, my mom picked it up and the surgeon reattached it. When I was 15, another dog bit a hole into my wrist as I tried to hold him off from ripping my smaller dog apart.

In summary, I’m a fighter. I’m the tenth of 11 children and to survive growing up required good defensive skills! I have had to fight my way through life just to survive. That’s why I don’t put up with government bullies. I fight back. Most people are born perfect. They can afford to be lazy or not care for their health, but sooner or later, it all catches up. As you age you’ll start to have challenges, so why not attack those head-on now – by setting your baseline in a health checkup? Then you too can live a long and healthy life, well, as long as the liberals don’t drive you to an early grave!

On October 18 and November 23, 2023 Donald Trump tweeted out on Trump’s Truth Social account T. Wall’s October 6th column on Trump’s property valuations. T. Wall holds a degree from the UW in economics and an M.S. in real estate analysis and valuation and is a real estate developer. Disclaimer: The opinions of the writer are not necessarily those of this publication or the left!

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