Heart Attack, Darkness, Bright Light, Calmness, Hearing kicks in

This image is probably the best visual image of what I experienced the morning of my Heart Attack

This image is probably the best visual image of what I experienced the morning of my Heart Attack

Heart Attack, Darkness, Bright Light, Calmness, and then at least for me my hearing kicked in before I woke. My experience replays in my mind daily if not weekly. It’s gone from being scared and apprehensive every time it replayed to realizing the entire re-wind is just a very long part of living and learning from the experience.

On the morning of March 31, 2008 I was told later that I was not falling asleep in the ambulance, emergency room, or even the Catheterization Lab at Rockford, Illinois Swedish American Hospital.  Instead I was flat lining. Yes, I was shocked back 6 times and yes my chest hurt like hell when I awoke for the last time in the hospitals ICU.

To this day, or should I say evening while watching one of our favorite shows Greys Anatomy my blood pressure and probably everything else physically picks up just a little speed watching those actor doctors shock back the other actors to life following their make believe heart attacks. While the make believe heart attack victims generally come back to life and are cognoscente enough to sometimes speak, I personally woke up in a real fog with a veeerrrrrryyyyy slow process of getting perspective of my surroundings.

For the record the above image is as close as I can view on Google Images of what I saw the last time I flat lined.  To description of what I felt is best said in the title of this blog. Darkness, Bright Light, Calmness, and then my hearing started to kick back in as I listed to the nurses giving directon to each other regarding my care.

Family in the ICU, Coach in the School Building, both critical for Ultimate Success

Family in the ER, Coach in the school building, both critical to ultimate success.

It is said that "Once an E-Rab always an E-Rab".  I agree

It is said that “Once an E-Rab always an E-Rab”. I agree

On March 31, 2008 the day I suffered my heart attack, was the most challenging day of my life. Every time I was shocked back to life after flat lining (at the time I thought I was just falling asleep) I began to realize that my thoughts or possibilities of severe back pain associated with unloading 150 – 50 lb bales of hay (for my horses) on Saturday, March 29 and chain sawing down dead trees for firewood on March 30 was not the cause/reason for my trip to the hospital and emergency room at Swedish American Hospital.

Waking up in the ICU with multiple medical attachments I realized that the situation was not good and to be very honest I was scared to death of the entire situation. Everything in my life seemed a blur up until my wife Jennifer and daughter arrived in my view. I saw/recognized my daughter  Stephanie I realized right then and there that no matter what the heck was happening I did not want to miss walking her down the isle on her wedding day. When I saw/recognized my wife Jennifer while she looked scared for me I also felt her strength.

It seemed like no big deal at the time as I just presumed every football team had their varsity football coach working within the confines of the school building on a day-to-day basis. The undefinable  psychological support it gave me from day to day is something that emanated a family or team environment in the hall ways of East High School.  It seemed like Bob Pellant, Jerry Stalcup, George Bull, Gary Giardini, Craig Stalcup, and/or Dan Salvi were everywhere within the hallowed walls of the school.  They constantly made their presences known and guided many a students on a daily basis. Then like now there  existe school problems much but having someone to talk to with in the football family always existed when coaches were employed in the building.

To hire a head football coach at East High School that does not call the school home for their job would be tantamount to endorsing the family unit comprised without the fathers impact and influence in the development of the child character.

The Rockford East E-Rab tradition of incredible school pride has been damage this school year by an unfortunate occurrence on the basketball court. The football team this past season had its difficulties and did not perform at the current E-Rabs or as Alums accept or condone.

As an E-Rab of many years ago, a current teacher within District 205 that understands issues the district faces, but more importantly brings a level of battling through adversity and achieving excellence the future of football at EHS can be strong once again.


My Quest of Coaching Football at Rockford East High School Day Two

Coach John Fox - head coach for the Denver Broncos

Coach John Fox – head coach for the Denver Broncos (Not related)

Denver Head Coach John Fox – a head coach with a heart issue

It’s been 36 years since I last stepped foot on the Swanson Stadium field during the fall of 1977. I always played the game with great passion and 110% effort, and left every game win or lose knowing I had done so.

Post high school at Rockford East High School, and into adulthood I went on to coach 17+ years plus 3 years of President and Founder of a youth baseball league.

Along the way in that life “adulthood” I was able to found and build Rockford’s chapter in Little League of America. While the league is no long known as Greater Rockford League the league still exists in Rockford.

Starting my teaching career with the Rockford Public Schools in 1990 I began to realize that perhaps one day I would be the head football coach at EHS. While there have been head coaching changes at Rockford East High School since 1990, for whatever reason the time was not right.

Throwback Rockford East High School football helmet. My helmet from Sophmore year.

Throwback Rockford East High School football helmet. This is actually my helmet from Sophamore year.

Over the years of waiting for the “right time” to become the Rockford East High School Head Football Coach I have coached many young people in the classroom, and the field or court the game of life.

What I have realized that no other coach in Rockford or any other area that may throwing the cards on the table to coach my high school football team is that no other person has been in the classroom as long as I have, coached as much as I have, had a heart attack and fought death to fight back and become 100% healthy/nearly  bionic :-) due to healthy living and a workout routine like no other.

I have come to realize latter adult life that the three things that make me the happiness while participating is teaching, coaching and riding one of my horses. Like John Fox the Head Coach of the Denver Broncos, the field is his happy place and all bad stress evaporates.

I would invite my fellow Rockford East High School Alumni to share this post on as may a social media as possible. Perhaps the power and influence of involved and passionate alumni will assist me in realizing my coaching dream.

FYI: All medical professionals are pronounced me 100% healthy,and recovered with a prescription of teaching, coaching, and healthy living.

Heart Attack Recovery, Football Coach, Dream Come True

I played football for and graduated from Rockford East High School in 1978

I played football for and graduated from Rockford East High School in 1978

I suffered a massive heart attack in 2008.  Now in 2014 I am healthier than I have been in the last 20 years of my life prior to today.

This morning on our local TV WIFR Channel 23 station it was announced that the Rockford East High School Head Football coach was taking a job in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Enter my life goal.  While I must admit having a heart attack in 2008 was not a resounding endorsement for the position.

The fact is that I am more healthy with all the working out, weights, cardiovascular exercise and speed walking and for these actions they have enabled me to handle the stresses both physical and the psychologically the needs of being a high school head football better than any person alive.

I have coached 17+ years of youth sports and been very successful in terms of Won/Loss % I am proud to say.  I have also been teaching high school, business, free enterprise, yearbook, newspaper, accounting and computers for 15+ years.

A head anything high school needs to be in the school and not a person that has another job outside the students day-to-day existence.

I have enjoyed teaching at Rockford Jefferson High School in Rockford, Illinois but following and accomplishing a life goal trumps staying.

Finally, I have spoken the my Principal here at Jefferson and he is all in with my life goals and helping me accomplish them even if it means leaving Jefferson.

Stay tuned….

Take time to see the Grand Canyon Post Heart Attack

Post Heart Attack travel is critical for both mind and body. Enjoy

Post Heart Attack travel is critical for both mind and body. Enjoy

Heart Attacks generally really suck. I can not think of an abundance of positive things that are derived from suffering a Heart Attack.

However, that being said there are many places that should be made a priority to visit right here in the United States.

I would suggest adding travel on Amtrak to for a once in a lifetime experience. The beauty of the country side from the vantage of a train is something that must be experienced at least once.  Besides it is a lot less stressful and exhausting than driving across county.

I would suggest strongly that no matter where you travel that you do one of two things either before arrival or immediately after arrival. Either find and/or ask where your destination keeps it portable heart defibrillator unit just as a precaution.


Banks Under Stress to remove suicide and heart attacks


There are many occupations that are prone to excessive stress levels. Since 2008 and the Great Recession banks have been forced to create revenue streams that are more consumer friendly and yet do it for a profit.

Banking and the forever present pressures to make a profit, and teaching for its ever present pressure to educate “everyone” are both stressful and thus they both create stress related medical problems.

The money that many of the high profile banking types is immense. With that level of pay the stress levels also follow. The banks and their board of directors need to take a leadership role and make mandatory a yearly sabbatical for mental health reasons for ALL their high paid professionals.

Granted many of these pressure related individuals may balk at the time off, but they need to get over themselves.  Their families, banking institution, fellow professionals would like them mentally healthy and vibrant versus being on the brink of mental/physical disaster.

CNN Money of the best online sources for day to day information

CNN Money of the best online sources for day to day information

Post Heart Attack Summer Vacations become more important and needed

Ely, Minnesota is one of the most beautiful locations on earth.

Ely, Minnesota is one of the most beautiful locations on earth.

Post Heart Attack Summer Vacations have become more important and to be quite honest needed. I always really enjoyed my summer vacation with my two fantastic children and wife.  My children were young and I made it a priority to expose them and my wife to as many “unusual” vacations as I could imagine.

I have taken the family up to Ely, Mn several times and I consider Ely, Mn. to be the 8th Wonder of the World. The tranquility, beauty and calmness of a rental cabin is breathtaking.  We a few occasions we have rented a cabin for a week, but on one occasion I was able to convince my family that “we” just needed to experience a boundary water canoe excursion into the wilderness for an entire week.

To this day, that week we all spent in the boundary waters 15 years later is spoken and remembered as though it just occurred last week.  Being out in the wilderness, beauty and perhaps bear laden boundary waters of northern Minnesota is an experience like none other. Mother Nature threw everything she had in her bag of weather tricks that week and each became that of legendary proportions. :-) However, even thought I had broken my foot on day 3 during a portage like the explorers of yesteryear I took one for the team and struggled through two rather uncomfortable days of family fun and hobbling.

I find myself now having obviously survived a Ely, Mn. boundary water experience and a devastating massive heart attack the ability to play yet another fun filled adventure I find is filling my days and mind with a goal.