Twenty-eight days of hearts… Valentines, sweethearts, caring hearts and healthy hearts. February is American Heart Month. The YMCA of Broome County joins the national effort to improve heart health in the Greater Broome County Community.
Cliff, a YMCA of Broome County member, recently shared his heart story.
“I am not supposed to be alive.” Cliff stated matter-of-factly, “I graduated from Union Endicott High School in June of 1963 and joined the Navy for schooling. I served my country for four years and was honorably discharged in June 1967.”
He said he married in 1968. He and his wife, Barbara, have three children. They celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary this June.
He recalled helping a friend clean out his son’s flooded home during the fall of 2011 Flood. “I felt an ache in my left arm. I thought it was from over-working, but the pain continued. My wife finally had my son take me to my doctor. When he listened to my heart, he told me I needed to go to the hospital, immediately and called an ambulance. The doctors ordered x-rays that revealed a blocked artery. They also discovered I suffered a heart attack that blew a hole between the two left chambers of my heart. They performed open heart surgery the next day to patch the hole. I started cardiac rehab at General Hospital the following February.”
The cardiologist warned Cliff he would not make it without a heart transplant. Cliff countered, “This is my heart and I want to keep it!” So, in June, 2012, he was given a defibrillator pacemaker. He said, “It made a big difference in how I felt and what I was able to do.” He continued his cardiac rehab program. The staff there noticed immediate differences, especially how his color changed from ashen to a healthy tone.
Cardiac rehab cut their hours. “So, when my wife joined the YMCA, I also decided to become a member.” He found so much at the YMCA for his heart health, “I do a mile on the treadmill and three miles on the recumbent bike four days a week. I enjoy coffee and conversation after exercising.”
Cliff also modified his menu, “I am currently on a low/salt/no salt diet. I have learned to accept it. I find you can cook anything healthy, if you use fresh ingredients.”
With deep satisfaction, Cliff added, “I have surprised my cardiologist with the progress I have made.”