Eric Douglas: Healthy checkup: All clear for another year!

Eric Douglas sig

Ten years, or so, ago, I found myself in a rough personal spot. I won’t go into details, but I was feeling pretty down.

So, I decided to celebrate my half birthday on Jan. 27. It’s highly likely that day fell on a Friday and I wanted something to do.

I encouraged some friends to join me for dinner and a few adult beverages. It didn’t end up being a big deal, and I don’t remember if it helped my overall attitude or not.

Flash forward to today and it just so happens that today is the fourth anniversary of my open-heart surgery. It is my re-birthday.

For those of you who haven’t been reading my column very long, four years ago I had a stress test to rule out heart problems because I was sure I had an ulcer. I was very wrong.

Quickly moving through the steps, I found myself scheduled for open-heart surgery at 48 years old. What followed was six months of busting my tail to lose weight and get in shape so I could be cleared to scuba dive again.

I won’t rehash the whole story. There is a section on my website dedicated to my recovery if you’re interested or know someone facing the same situation.

A couple weeks ago, I had my annual visit with my cardiologist and received a clean bill of health and told to return the following year. He also signed off on my diving medical release so I can keep diving.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last four years is that things will ebb and flow. I’ve put some of the weight I lost back on and I don’t exercise as hard as I did a few years ago. I think that’s normal. The scare, and the scar, aren’t as fresh.

A few years removed from the surgery, my priorities have changed, too. I’m less interested in running 5K races and more interested in being active and enjoying life. I do know I have to be healthy to do that.

That means doing my best to eat well, but not beating myself up when I eat something really good. I still use the treadmill and get outside when the weather permits. I’m looking forward to going scuba diving again this year, too.

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. I think a lot of time people set themselves up to fail. It’s about having realistic goals and not giving up when you slip.

I will say, though, if you’re not in the best of shape and carrying too much extra weight, don’t get yourself in the same situation I found myself in. You may not be as lucky as I was and get another chance.

I don’t believe in “fat shaming,” because I don’t believe it helps. But we really have to stop normalizing obesity and accepting sedentary lives with awful eating habits. Your body just isn’t designed to work that way. It will rebel and you will end up in the hospital – or worse.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go jump on the treadmill for a while. This is a much better way to celebrate my half birthday – or my re-birthday.

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit or contact him at

Funerals for Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Antill, Norman - 6 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Arbaugh, Jennings - Noon, Bartlett-Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Doss, Mark - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Gillispie, Glen - 11 a.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hoover, Evelyn - 1. p.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Linton, Anna - 1 p.m., Pennington Smith Funeral Home, Gauley Bridge.

Mace, T. Opal - 2 p.m., Starcher Cemetery, Arnoldsburg.

Nelson, Kenneth - Noon, Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.