This will probably be a rambling mess — what else is new, right? — and I can’t remember how much of it I’ve written about before. Forgive me in advance.
Almost 10 years ago, somewhere around the middle of March 2002, I started blogging under the stupid fake name I’m still using for some reason. (“Jim… Treacher? Jim Treacher? Really?”) I had started following blogs right after 9/11, just like a lot of people did. It was an exciting new world. And I figured, what the hell, why not jump in? Didn’t seem that tough. Even a dummy like me could set up a Blogspot site and get going in about 5 minutes. I had lost my job the previous year and was working freelance, and it wasn’t like I had anything better to do.
So that’s what I did. And it was great. Freeing. Addictive. I could write about whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and there was even a slight chance that somebody might read it. I didn’t have to just shake my fist at the world anymore. I could use my words. I could get something out of my English major, sort of. Maybe it wouldn’t do any good, maybe it wouldn’t change anything, but it was better than suffering in silence. A small voice was better than no voice at all.
I don’t know if that old site even exists anymore, and I’ve never bothered to go back and do a word count, but in those very early days I was blogging pretty much non-stop. I was going night and day. I didn’t want to miss anything. How could I sleep when there might be a story I could think of something to say about? How could I rest when somebody on the Internet, that very second, was wrong?
So that was me, blogging away, sometimes for 36 hours at a time. Eating even worse than my usual, which wasn’t great to begin with. Pushing myself and pushing myself.
One night, about a month later, I was trying to get a few rare hours of sleep. But I just couldn’t. My pulse was pounding behind my ears. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (#2, sorry) but couldn’t. I was dizzy and my fingers were tingly and my neck hurt and I just felt… bad.
I endured it for a night, and I think I slept a little. But the next morning, I knew something was really wrong. My heart was pounding. My head felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t stand up. I thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t be having a heart attack, right? I was only 33. What if I was just panicking? What if I was about to make a big fuss and it turned out to be nothing?
Or what if I was going to die?
So I dialed 911.
Already-too-long story short: An ambulance came, they took me to the ER, I got pumped full of beta blockers, and I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Which I would’ve known if I’d been to a doctor in the previous 10 years.
So since then, I’ve been on blood pressure medication, I’ve kept track of it, and I’ve tried to listen to the signals my body is giving me and not push myself too hard. There’s always going to be somebody on the Internet who’s wrong about something, but there’s only so much I can do. There are only so many dummies I can laugh at in one day.
And just within the last 6 months, I’ve finally started losing the weight I need to take off to be healthy, and I’ve been keeping it off. So that’s helped, I hope. (Wheat Belly. Read it.) I’ve been getting as much exercise as I can with my bum knee. (The Primal Blueprint. Read that next.) Basically, I’m trying to hang in there.
All of which is my roundabout way of saying that what happened to Andrew Breitbart could have happened to me. I’m trying to keep it from happening to me. I don’t know his exact circumstances, but it’s coming out now that he had some health problems. And he definitely pushed himself, way harder than I ever have. Way harder than anybody else I’ve ever even heard of. He took a lot of weight on his shoulders. He had found his calling in life, and he didn’t want to miss a second of it. Hell, he was sparring with pinheads on Twitter right up to the end.
We’re all only human. There’s only so much we can do. We have to pay attention to what’s going on with our bodies, no matter how hard our minds might push us. We still live in the physical world, no matter how much of our energy is devoted to the ephemeral.
Maybe Andrew did that and this happened to him anyway. I’m not trying to second-guess him. I’m not his doctor and I’m not trying to be. But if you’re reading this and you ever feel like something might be wrong, please don’t ignore it. Your body doesn’t care if you really have to tell some dumbass on the Internet precisely why he’s a dumbass, right this very minute. Let’s face it: You proving him wrong probably isn’t going to do any good, because if he was capable of instruction, he wouldn’t be bothering you in the first place.
None of this is meant to be disrespectful to Andrew Breitbart or his family and friends. I admired him more than I can say, and my heart goes out to him and his loved ones. But this 21st-Century always-online Facebook/Twitter/iPhone lifestyle, for all its wonders and all its capabilities, must be lived with a sense of caution. You need to be able to step away from it. You need to be able to decompress. You need to be able to say, “Oh well, I guess that dickhead will just go on being a dickhead for another day without me.”
Okay. That was my Old Person Speech.
Breitbart, man. That guy was the best. I’m really going to miss him.
P.S. I definitely would’ve watched a show with Andrew Breitbart and Anthony Weiner, even if it was on CNN. They could’ve called it Weiner & Ballsy.
P.P.S. I didn’t see this until just now. Bill Whittle confirms what I’ve been wondering, sadly. I’d heard Andrew had health problems, but I didn’t realize he’d had a previous heart attack. He just couldn’t slow down.