The Last Thing Michael Jackson Did For Me Was Save My Life

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

great Michael Jackson photoI guess it’s fitting that since it’s my birthday (which falls on the same day as the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death), I write this post.

I know I talk about Michael Jackson kind of a lot on this blog. And that each time I do, I sound like a complete and total crazy person. Probably because I am a crazy person when it comes to Michael Jackson (and maybe at other times..).

Unfortunately, I never met Michael Jackson. You would think that since I never met the man, he couldn’t have a very big impact on my life – but he very much influenced it.

He inspired me. Most of all, the thing I loved the about Michael Jackson was that he was hope when there was no hope. No matter what was going on in your life or in the world… even if things seemed awful, no matter what they were, they were never awful enough that Michael Jackson couldn’t take you away from them.

I know his messages are bigger than a man, and that when he died hope (and tolerance, passion, kindness, and all the other great things he was spreading) did not die with him. But for a little while, it felt like they did.

Michael Jackson gave me so much over the course of my life. His music, his speeches, his dreams – they enriched my life. But, the very last thing he gave me was my life. As if he hadn’t given me enough already, in death he saved my life.

As you know, if you’ve read the very long story about my time in and out of the hospital after finding out I had a congenital heart defect, you know that at that time, I was not taking great care of myself. At all. I just didn’t know how.

As I said, he was hope to me. I didn’t realize how much I relied on, or sort of got life force from him – how much he embodied the ideas of “keep moving forward.”

I was intense and awesome in high school and college, working ’round the clock, never settling, constantly striving toward goals. I had no idea that when Michael Jackson died it was going to feel like the ground completely fell from under my feet. I didn’t know how much I kind of relied on his presence – even though he was nowhere close to me.

When I was brought into the ER at Mass General, I straight up admitted to the doctors and nurses that I’d been a total mess. I could’ve easily (and quite possibly that was the case) passed out purely because I wasn’t eating or sleeping, and I was exercising too much. I knew it was irresponsible to take such poor care of myself. (And I feel bad about that. It’s a waste of time and resources.) But, I was a wreck.

It was out in the open that my body shutting down might mot have anything to do with my heart. But my new medical buds told me it didn’t really matter how I ended up in the ER – whether my heart problem caused me to pass out or not. No matter what brought me in, there was a problem with my heart that most likely would not have been found otherwise.

I had a ticking time bomb in my chest. Doctors at Massachusetts General were convinced that had we not found it, I would’ve absolutely been dead before I hit 30.

(Of course, you never really know if something will happen until it does. Would it have? We’ll never know. Heck, I’m not at 30. So, who knows what kind of crazy stuff could happen between now and then.)

I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would’ve gotten an EKG – other than the way it happened. I would’ve never randomly gotten my heart checked at a physical. And by the estimations of some of the best doctors in the country, I wouldn’t have lived to see my 3rd decade of life.

So, even in death Michael Jackson was giving me hope, and pushing me forward.

And on this day when I close out another year of my life and look forward to the next one, I can only hope that in some small way, at some point, I can pass along some of the hope and inspiration he gave me to someone else.

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