A Survival Story

3 years ago

My life has changed a lot since 2009

I had just turned 50 years old, weighed over 300 pounds, and was headed for trouble. It had been years since I had done anything that would be considered as healthy. After injuring myself I ended up in the hospital, where doctors discovered I had high blood pressure. It was time for a lifestyle change. I decided, like so many other people, my New Year’s resolution was to eat right and get active.

It was January and it was cold. Not being a fan of cold weather I needed a warm place to walk, so I went to the mall early that January morning. Things did’t go well! I could’t walk a fourth of the way around the mall without having to take a seat and catch my breath. It was hard, but I kept going. Along with my daily walking routine, came better eating choices. I was making progress.

It didn’t take long and I began to see results. My weight was down about 50 pounds and I was walking 6 miles a day. This gave me a boost in self esteem. Feeling much better about myself, I joined the Joplin Family Y. My new lifestyle was going well. Walking 6 six miles a day gave me the confidence to move to running. In February 2011 I enrolled in the Anyone Can Run class. My transition went pretty well. As you can imagine it was difficult in the beginning. My comfort with running increased with each class, and by April I was running with the group and training for my first 5k.

The day

I remember the day started like any other, went to work and met my class after work for a run. We completed our 3 mile run and had made it back to the park. After returning to the park I got a bottle of water and that is the last moment I would recall for 7 days.

I had had a major heart attack. Luckily for me, a nurse from Mercy that was running with us began to perform CPR and 911 was called. This is the dispatch that went out to Metro Emergency Transport Service (METS), “Runner down, unconscious, not breathing, possible death.” The METS ambulance arrived in approximately two minutes and took over CPR duties. They told me later they shocked me seven times between the park and the hospital! Once I arrive at the emergency room my status didn’t improve. The ER doctor told my wife to get the family together because I probably would’t live through the night. I was placed in a medically induced coma to keep me from moving around too much Around 3 am, I was taken to the cath lab where inserted three stents near my heart and a pump in my veins to keep my heart from working so hard. I was stabilized. Three days after the heart attack I had a triple bypass. The surgeon was pleased with the results. It took another three days for me to come out of the effects of the coma and the anesthesia. Monday morning came, the seventh day after my heart attack, and my wife came in the room I looked up at her, and asked “What happened?” She told me I had a heart attack!

Later in the day, the physical therapists began working with me. I asked what I had to do to get out of here. They pointed down what seemed like an endless hallway and told me I had to walk all the way to the end, go down and back up a set of stairs, and THEN I could go home! I told them to get out of the way - but it didn’t happen as fast as I had hoped.I spent a total of 11 days in the hospital before I got to go home. Now I had to start getting in shape again. First I walked around the sofa. After that I walked down the driveway and back. Next it was back to the mall where it all started.

My new life

Five weeks after triple bypass surgery, I walked in the Armed Forces 5k with my Anyone Can Run class. They finished ahead of me, but came back out and walked me across the finish line. It was a great day and these people are still a special part of my life today. There was one more setback in my new life. The day after the Armed Forces 5k, May 22, 2011, Joplin was struck by an EF5 tornado that changed us forever. The city of Joplin recovered and I kept running and running.

Eventually I was hired by the Y as a running coach, and now coach the Anyone Can Run class. That just about proved that anyone can’t run! I have now run in over 100 races - 4 full marathons, 15 half marathons, and many 5K’s, 10K’s, 25K’s, a 200 mile relay, and many other distance races. I’ve been a pacer in the Joplin Memorial Run for the last couple of years. I love running and the people I run with have become very close. Joplin has the best running community anywhere! I love to see new runners and help people reach their goals, and I plan on running for many years to come. Now when I have my annual check up, I take and show him my latest marathon medaI. I feel God had other plans for me. I was given another chance at life, running, and helping other people.

Plans for the future

First off, I plan to continuing coaching other runners. Helping others reach their goals and change their lives, is something I can relate personally to. As I continue down my running journey, my plan is to complete on e full marathon each year. My main plan for the future is to continue to take this second chance at life and life it to the fullest! I am truly blessed.

Whether you’re new to running or just looking for some training advice we have just what you need. Our Tempo Run Quick Reference Guide has something for everyone. Download your copy here.


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