When Patrick Pecheco was 14 years old, his father passed away at the premature age of 42, due to a heart condition. This affected Pecheco his whole life - he was always reminded that life could be cut short.
When Pacheco grew up and developed his own heart condition, he took his doctor's suggestion and got a pacemaker. However, with his father's death on his mind, Pacheco went in for a regular pacemaker placement understandably nervous.
For this operation, he would be given anesthetic but would remain conscious. According to to the Good Men Project, Pecheco started panicking when he thought he heard the doctors whispering to each other. When he asked if anything was wrong, the doctor replied "No" but still seemed tense and terse. Pecheco asked again, "Am I going to die?" only to hear a curt response from the medical team, "No".
At that point, Pecheco looked at the monitors; "I was flatlining. I was sure of it. Now, not only was my throat tightening but my legs started to shake violently." He told the medical staff to look at the monitors ... "I'm going to die" he added.
"I heard the doctor tell the nurse to increase the dosage of anesthesia and move the monitors out of my sight. I fought consciousness. I wanted to stay awake, convinced that if I fell asleep, I'd never wake up."
The desperate reality
Pecheco's medical team wasn't just telling him what he wanted to hear, but his symptoms also weren't fake - what was supposed to be a 90 minute operation ended up taking four hours. Although there was a tiny complication as they wired the pacemaker into his veins, it was really Pecheco's fear and panic that lengthened the time of the surgery.
After finding out that his fear had caused complications and lengthened the operation's time, Pecheco worked to give back to the medical world. He volunteered at a men's health clinic and served others who were suffering from fear of their conditions.
Fear often complicates things far more than we think. When we are able to calm down and look at the situation our reactions will often be different. While our fear might not be lengthening a heart surgery, the Pecheco's triumph over fear is something we can all incorporate in our lives. When we live without fear, we reach our full potential. When we live without fear, we can see how others need our strength. When we live without fear, we truly can live.
In the words of Judy Blume, "Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it."
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.