Long-time readers of this blog will remember that five years ago I suffered a bi-lateral pulmonary embolism that nearly killed me; my right lung was 100% blocked, my left lung 60%. This past Tuesday evening I suffered a second pulmonary embolism. It was not nearly as serious as the first, I even went to work as normal on Wednesday, but with growing pain during the day I went to the hospital on Wednesday evening, was diagnosed, received medication to break up the clots — two shots in the belly, twelve hours apart, no fun I assure you — and came home Thursday afternoon.

Broadly speaking, there are two contributing factors to pulmonary embolism. The primary factor is blood chemistry, and that’s genetic; there’s nothing you can do about it, though if you know you are predisposed to blood clots, as I am, there is medication that can attenuate the risk — I’ll be talking to a hematologist in about two weeks. The secondary factor is lifestyle: smoking and obesity are both contra-indicated, as is a sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary in this context doesn’t mean sitting in front of a computer monitor for hours a day — recall that Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, had a pulmonary embolism a few years ago — it just means that you spend a few or several hours a day sitting still.

I assume that most of my readers are computer programmers, as I am, and spend much time sitting still. I urge you to get out of your chair every forty-five minutes or so and walk around for five or ten minutes to get your blood moving. It may save your life.

I’ll have another exercise for you next Tuesday.