Sep 5
Johnlynk , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Second Chances

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So I became an empty nester at the age of 49 and vowed to get back into much better shape.  Started exercise program and began training for a sprint triathalon.  During this time I found out that I am gluten intolerant.  I changed my diet to reflect this and started to watch a lot more on how I ate.  At this time I started to have upper chest pains that would even go up into my throat.  These would only last five minutes or so and would only occur once or twice a week.  Went to doctor after I self-diagnosed myself and declared I had GERD. Mind you I have a severe needle phobia and talked doctor out of getting a blood test.  (Wrong move)  I started taking a prescription reflux med.  This seemed to work most of the time.  I took these and continued to work out and ignore they ever so infrequent attacks for almost a year.  The Monday before Thanksgiving of 2017 I started feeling like I was coming down with something.  Went to urgent care and was diagnosed with Upper Respiratory Infection.  My blood pressure was good and everything else seemed fine.  Felt better that night and great on Tuesday.  Wednesday felt terrible.  Thanksgiving morning had chest pain that lasted for five minutes or so.  Felt fine and traveled with family to my brother's two hours away.  Immediately after dinner started getting the chest pains again.  This time did not go away.  After 30 minutes my family rushed me to the hospital.  I walked in almost feeling normal.  They hooked me up and within seconds told me I was having a heart attack.  What I thought, no way, not me.  I am only 49, I have been athletic my whole life, never smoked, not overweight, not diabetic.  Not me!  Once stabllized I was transferred to St. Vincents in Carmel, IN.  (Best Place!!)  Had a heart cath next day and artery behind my heart was 100% blocked and the widow maker was nearly 100%.  If I would of laid down when I didn't feel well I am not sure if I would be writing this today.  I ended up having double bypass a few days later.  Back to all of those things I was thinking....   They were all true, but there were several things that I was not considering.   My blood!  Proper tests would of revealed that my levels were off the chart horrible.  I pretty much ate and drank whatever, whenever, and as much as I wanted my whole life.  I lacked good consistent exercise in my adult life, and my stress management has never been good my whole life.  As I laid in the hospital bed after surgery I made a lot of promises to myself about what I was going to do different.  I am so happy to say that I have done all of them and I continue to do daily.  My blood levels after three months now are off the chart awesome, my diet is exceptional.  I exercise 5-7 times a week.  I have done my sprint Tri, and run many 5k's all of the time.  I changed careers, and I work very hard on my stress management.  I am also doing some other things that all relate to my experience.  Some days it isn't that easy but I am driven to be better and to embrace my second chance at being a better person inside and out.  Thank you all for reading if you got this far.  Lol.  Very happy to be part of this site.  Any questions on anything please let me know.  People ask me all of the time about my experience and I cannot tell you the wonderful feeling I get trying to help people.

Peace, John

  • AHAASAKatie

    Thank you so much for sharing! best Katie

  • sb1154

    So happy for you, sound like my story, thought I was healthy and living healthy and had a sudden heart attack that I thought was indigestion. Had to have a double bypass and my ejection function was low. I has been hard physically and emotionally for it just happen 2 months ago. Thank you

  • Johnlynk

    Likewise, thank you for responding.  We think sometimes we are doing all of the right things but then after we truly educate ourselves on our issues we figure out that we probably weren't doing all of the right things.   Two months ago, WOW.  I can promise you this, if you are doing all of the things in your control things will get better.  Expect some days to have set backs but that is okay.  We take it day by day and try to improve on all of the things that we need to be doing.  I cannot stress the following enough:  Take your meds, get the right amount of sleep, exercise reguarly, eat right, don't use nicotene, manage stress.  Yes, it is a lot but these are the things that we can do to get better and grow.  The physical was hard at the start for me but I am running 5 and 10k's and sprint triathalons now after 22 months.  The mental has been tougher and I didn't really expect.  Keep that PMA in all that you do.  Positive Mental Attitude!  I am very happy you are okay and that you wrote.  

    All the best to you, and don't be reluctant to reach out.


  • Davidsheart

    I’m 37 and I have had a extremely hard life. I had a heart attack they put a stent in and said my heart has several more blockages that are 50% or more. The blockage I had was at 99% I thought I pulled a muscle in my chest again. But it was a heart attack I’m not doing to good on my lifestyle change. Can you give advice on that for me from how to change eating habits to keeping a regular schedule for my cardiac rehab. I’m starting that soon I need help. 

  • Johnlynk

    David, so sorry I am just now getting back to you.  I have been out of town working and have not been on the portal for a little while.  First of all none of this is easy, it takes a lot of work and you will have good and bad days.  The first goal should always be to work towards having more good than bad of course.  I will start with the cardiac rehab.  Are you part of a program at your local hospital?  If not, please start there.  Express what your concerns are and they should be able to give you the support you need.  Find a partner.  It can be someone at home, a nurse, or rehab personnel, or even yet another cardiac rehab patient.  Someone that you can speak with, connect with, and that will keep you on track.  I was very fortunate that I had all of these people that constantly encouraged me and kept me on track.  Have someone in charge of taking you to your appointments.  I could barely walk when I started rehab and was running on the treadmill by time I was done.  The diet can be even harder if you are one, llike me that ate and drank what I wanted, when I wanted, and how much I wanted my whole life.  The first thing I did was made the decision that I was going to do all of the things that I could do under my power not to repeat this horrible thing that happenend to me.  So for the first six months I did the following.  This worked for me and I am not saying it is for everyone by the way.   I got an App called My Fitness Pal.  It does a lot but I used it to track everything that I consumed and I mean everything.  It gives you a breakdown of nutrition and tells you what  you are doing right and wrong.  During the first three months when I was not doing rehab I read everything I could get my hands on about heart health, heart healthy nutrition and what our bodies really need.  I thought I was eating healthy before and it turns out I wasn't even close.  After the six months I knew what I needed to do in every aspect of nutrition, exercise, medication, sleep, stress management, shopping for food, food preparation, etc.  Now I don't even need to think about it most of the time.  Pretty much have made this my lifestyle.  I do have slips, but the great thing is you don't dwell on them you just start over.  That is all you can do, the past is the past and keep thinking what can I do next to make myself healthier?  I can go on and on but I will not.  If you have any other questions at all please feel free to ask anytime.  You can do this.  Start small and build on it.  David, I wish you all the luck, peace of mind, and courage it takes to make these changes.  You will appreciate it and feel accomplished even with small wins man.

    Best of luch brother!


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