Getting back to tennis After major heart attack and quad Bypass open heart surgery
I was visiting my sister in upstate New York in August 2017. On August 23rd, 2017, I was playing tennis with my daughter Faith, when I began to notice tight chest pains and continued sweating profusely long after the session ended. Having always lived a healthy lifestyle, I thought it was just a muscular pain. But my wife Lisa, who is a retired registered nurse checked my pulse and said something is going on. So my sister drove me to the hospital. I was found to have 4 blockages in the major arteries of my heart, about 90% occluded in most of them and what they call a widow maker heart attack which very few people survive. I was transferred to the Rochester, NY hospital where I underwent a Quadruple Bypass Open Heart surgery on August 27th, 2017. But I was back on the tennis courts in 3 months. Diligently following a strict diet and workout schedule directly lead to my rapid recovery.
My first thoughts after the surgery were will I be able to play tennis again as even walking a few minutes made me tired. Taking small steps was the key here. I started walking 5 minutes in the house. The other problem I faced was the stress and anxiety. To control that I started doing breathing practices and controlled my breath. On October 2nd, 2017, I flew back to Lakeland, Florida where I live. They had to put me on a wheelchair in the airport. I had a first-hand experience of how others felt on wheelchairs.
Once I was in Florida, I started walking outside starting with 5 minutes and gradually increasing it till I could walk for 30 minutes. But it was still a slow walk and always afraid that something could happen. The breathing practices helped me calm down.
Finally, I got into Cardiac Rehab at the South Florida Baptist- Cardiac Rehab facility in Plant City, FL. This was a turning point in my recovery. When I started the rehab, I could not even get on the treadmill. Just doing the treadmill for a few minutes caused heart palpitations and they had me just do slow bikes. But in about 2 weeks I was on the treadmill and doing over 3 miles an hour for over 30 minutes. With this new confidence, I was able to start playing some tennis with my daughter Faith and brother Ram. Again, I started with 5 minutes and by the end of December was able to play over 30 minutes.
One of the things I also started doing was working out in the gym slowly, doing treadmills, elliptical and working out with some weights and pushups etc. I worked out in the mornings and played tennis in the evenings. So, I was doing physical activity for over an hour. Another thing I implemented was a complete change in my diet. I cut back on sugar completely and had very little salt in my food. Ate a lot of veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and cut out all fried foods.
Now I am very active and workout, walk, play tennis and still eating a healthy diet. My labs look great with low cholesterol, triglycerides etc. I am planning to be playing in tennis tournaments again once this COVID-19 Pandemic calms down.
I am more than blessed to get a second change in Life. I am happy to be alive and playing tennis.
My message is simple: “I got a second chance so I am living life to the fullest. I enjoy every moment with my family, especially hitting with my daughter. When something like this happens, you never lose hope.
Anyone can recover and get back to what they were doing before by diligently following a strict diet, being active and keeping a very positive attitude. And of course, have regular medical checkups.