Christmas Day 2007 was a day that changed my life. I took a walk around Gray's Lake near downtown Des Moines, Iowa. I had ignored the unusual sensation I had felt earlier in the day in my chest, attributing it to cold weather and not being in good enough physical shape. I thought I could not have heart disease because I exercised regularly, was not obese, had no family history of heart disease, passed a recent lipid profile test, and did not smoke. I was a male over 50. As my walking pace increased the sensation in my chest returned. Near the end of my walk I suddenly doubled over, unable to breathe. After what seemed an eternity, I caught a shallow breath and several minutes later my breathing returned to normal. I did not call 911 or go to the hospital because I was certain I could not have heart disease. Several days later, tests revealed I had extensive blockage and in January, 2008, I had triple by-pass surgery.
I am currently training for the Iowa Senior Olympics and the National Masters Swim meet. I swim individual medley, butterfly, and freestyle. I regularly walk around Gray's lake with my wife, and currently we watch a pair of bald eagles and their two eaglets, which have chosen Gray's Lake for their nest. I am alive and live a wonderful life, due to the advances in treating heart disease. My story is about how I did everything wrong and still survived. I hope with education and advances in medicine, more people will survive and live wonderful lives.