He was flat on his back on the medical table, stripped down to his underwear, and staring up at the florescent lights on the ceiling. He was cold and tense and anxious when he heard an electric motor engage and the table began to slide forward and pulling him into a tube. The space was small and claustrophobic and he tried not to make comparisons to the feeling of being in a coffin. But that only made it worse.

“Try to relax and be still.” He heard a voice say “This is going to take about 45 minutes.”

As the random knocking sounds of the MRI machine began around his head, there were 45 minutes to wonder if he had brain cancer.

But you know… try and relax.

The journey here had begun months prior when a respiratory infection turned into bronchitis and bronchitis turned into pneumonia. All of which he ignored until he collapsed in the barnyard on one morning while working cattle on his family’s ranch.

He couldn’t breathe.

He tried. But all he could feel was burning and hear the wheezing of lungs that refused to take in air.

But, before any of this, he’d been slipping deeper into depression, had lost all motivation, had grown darker, and barely had enough energy to get out of bed in the morning. Both body and soul were getting chronically weaker.

All of which he ignored.

He had too much to do.

His life looked amazing from the outside and he regularly told people that he would sleep when he was dead. He had a full time job that he enjoyed but didn’t pay well. He also had a side business that made up the income shortfall. You have to do what you have to do, he told himself. There aren’t a lot of opportunities around here and he sure wasn’t getting any raises. He started working well before daylight. He stopped after most people had gone to bed. He prided himself that he was always available. His phone buzzed and flashed constantly and he never ignored it and would happily return work e-mails that came in at two in the morning.

Year after year he gave away too much of his time to too many things and people who did not reciprocate his efforts. He always felt good about his work, but he also somehow felt cheated. He sacrificed sleep for projects. He sacrificed weekends. There didn’t seem to be a bottom of things to be done and people wanting him to do something for them. And for the life of him, he just couldn’t seem to tell people “no.”

The simple truth was he was good at and enjoyed each of these things but none of them gave enough in return to simply do one. Boundaries be damned, he ignored all the red flags and slowly but surely pushed himself to the day where his legs gave out and he found himself sitting in cow shit and gasping for breath. His body had all that it was going to take.

In that moment he remembered his grandfather had died from deteriorated lungs.

In that moment he thought about all the dreams he’d put off.

But… you know…Try to relax.

But he thought of something else in that moment.

Something has to change.