Usually this time of year, I focus a lot of attention on accomplishments and failures of the past 12 months and look forward to what I hope to accomplish in the coming year.

This year, I am focusing on my own health and frailty. I will be seventy-five years old in just one month and that feels like a significant milestone. I still have no plans to retire or change what I am doing, but a couple of weeks ago, I had a pacemaker put into my heart. This is a pretty simple operation and rarely complicated, but I did end up with a complication that was very significant for me.

Five days after receiving the pacemaker, I thought that I should be feeling better and better. I love riding my e-assist bike and I looked at getting the pacemaker like adding e-assist to my heart. I was trying to take some short walks to help my recovery, but on the 5th day I started having pain in my chest which got worse and worse every few minutes. I asked Beth to take me to the emergency room, because I thought that I either had a collapsed lung or was in the middle of a heart attack. After about 3 hours in the ER my pain was the most severe that I have ever experienced. Each heart beat was excruciating. I felt for sure that I was near death, which turned out to be my brick wall.

My chest x-ray was normal and my cardiologist was able to put a catheter in my coronary arteries to prove that they were okay and I was not having a heart attack. It turned out that I simply had pericarditis, which is not particularly serious, but for me was extremely painful. I am now one week past all of that and feeling better every day.

I feel like I have been given a second chance at life and I look forward to getting back to South Africa and starting over on my walking exercise program and the work that God has called me to do to help the children in Africa. I have had many second chances in my life and I appreciate each and every one of them. They say that a cat has nine lives and I am sure that I have used up well more than half of my lives, but I am feeling better and looking forward to what is next.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year and want to let all of you know how much I appreciate your friendship and support.

Thank you,

Jim