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Celebrating local lifestyle change champions

Celebrating local lifestyle change champions

by John Knopf, Guest Blogger from the American Heart Association

KING5.com

Posted on March 5, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 11:36 PM

Celebrating local lifestyle change champions: 43-year old father makes positive changes after heart attack

John’s story, along with other local lifestyle change success stories, will be on display as part of the Regence Lifestyle Change gallery at the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball event on Saturday, March 24 at the Fairmont Hotel. For more information, visit www.seattleheartball.com.


The heart attack stopped me 2 miles short of my morning commute during bike-to-work month. Miraculously, I was on the Burke-Gilman trail across from the University of Washington hospital when the chest pain hit.  I diverted in to the turn around and yelled, “Get someone out here. I’m having a heart attack.”

Emerging from the fog of a medically induced coma several days later, I learned the medical staff had nicknamed me “Lazarus”--not a nickname that one usually aspires to, but one I’m grateful for now after the fact. The medical team had performed CPR for nearly an hour until I had enough of a heartbeat to place two stents, one in the “widow maker” artery. Then came the waiting: How much heart damage? brain damage? kidney damage? I was 43 years old with a wonderful wife and five young children.

The previous summer while visiting my in-laws, I had gone for a walk in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains.  I was so overweight and so out of shape that I nearly passed out from the exertion at high altitude. My heart pounded ferociously in my chest. I made a personal resolution that day to make some changes--but change is hard, especially with 18 years of desk-job inertia. Sir Isaac Newton was right: A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by a force.

During those first weeks after leaving the hospital, I resolved that the path that had miraculously brought me to the hospital was the path that would keep me out of the hospital in the future. Eighteen years of poor decisions--thousands each year, hundreds each week, handfuls each day--had earned me a heart attack. I wanted so badly to just lose all that weight all right now. In my faith, we have a well-known saying: “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

Almost three years of small and simple decisions--thousands each year, hundreds each week, and handfuls each day--have me 90 pounds lighter and commuting round trip by bicycle four days a week between Woodinville and Fremont in Seattle.  (Yes, I still pass right by UW hospital every morning.) 

Change is hard. Often we’re overcoming the inertia of habits and behaviors that have formed over years. 


John’s story, along with other local lifestyle change success stories, will be on display as part of the Regence Lifestyle Change gallery at the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball event on Saturday, March 24 at the Fairmont Hotel. For more information, visit www.seattleheartball.com.
 

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