It made zero sense to me that I had an issue with my heart. I was a very athletic and physically fit young man.
I visited a few other doctors to get a second opinion of what the Air Force doctor told me. I was told that my heart was perfectly fine. I was told that I might have a very minor PCV “flicker” when my heart was at rest with a very low heart beat rate, but that 99% of the population had the same thing. I was told to not worry about it and that I would have no problem flying airplanes. When I contacted the recruiting center to inform them on what the other doctors had told me, the response I received was that it did not matter what the civilian doctors said to me. Only the military doctor’s diagnosis counted. With that, my dream of becoming an Air Force pilot was officially dead, and so was my identity.
Unfortunately, in my desire to find answers, I turned away from the people who loved me the most. I rebelled against my parents’ authority. I moved out of their home months later. In my search to discover what I was going to do with my life, I completely lost myself. I became a different person as I bounced from one job to another. I was now out of high school and in the workforce. Alcohol seemed to make my problems dissipate, at least until I woke up the next morning. I not only felt ill physically, but I could sense that I was losing myself spiritually as well. That made me feel worse and I turned to partying as a way to drown these negative feelings. This unhealthy routine led me to lose a great deal.
At the time I was in a relationship with a girlfriend that I truly cared for, but because I did not have a healthy respect for myself I couldn’t give true love to anyone else. My inner unhappiness and unease led me to become a very uncaring and cold person and it was not long before I was no longer in a relationship. I tried to hide behind a tough, cool façade. I then decided that I no longer wanted a girlfriend. I just wanted to date as many girls that I could. I became very good at pretending and I knew that I was becoming a very shallow person but I still refused to truly look in the mirror and admit that I did not like the person staring back at me.
I was very fortunate to get a job at an automobile assembly plant, which at the time was a good job for someone with only a high school education. Not because of the above average hourly wage. It was after about two months of working on an assembly line that I woke up from my coma. During one of my eight hour shifts installing emergency brake cables, I realized that if I remained at this job I would be miserable for the rest of my life.
I’m not saying that working on an assembly line is a bad job. In fact I have a great deal of respect for the hard-working people on a wide variety of assembly lines, day in and day out, who provide for their families. It is just that I still had a desire to fly airplanes even though I could not be a Fighter pilot, and working at a car plant was not how I saw myself spending the days of my life.
I realized that I had to make an aggressive shift in my life if I was ever going to be happy. At the end of my shift that day that I quit my job. It was a big gamble to quit such a good job, but I knew that I needed to take immediate action. It was the first time in almost two years that I felt good about myself. On the way home, I stopped at a convenience store and purchased a couple of different flying magazines. I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for, but I knew that I needed some motivation to support the decision I’d just made. (A little inspiration wouldn’t hurt, either.
I found a few aviation colleges in those magazines advertising in the classified section. The ads talked about becoming a pilot and how they could help with financial aid to cover tuition. I felt a warmth spread over me .For the first time in a long time, my dream of becoming a pilot was not dead. I completed the application process for three different schools and I was completely shocked when I was accepted to all of them! This was the first taste of success that I had experienced in a long time and it felt great.