I am proud to support the Leaders of Impact campaign for AHA, as this is a cause that resonates with me on a profound level. It is important to be an advocate for our health to get the care and resources that we need to live a long and healthy life. Together, we can help educate our communities, raise funds for life-saving research, and be a strong advocate to the health and well-being of all. Below is my personal story:
On Sunday, May 20, 2018, on a flight to attend a conference in Orlando, FL, with my wife and two daughters, my heart stopped for 20 seconds. I vividly remember the sudden feeling of nausea, being diaphoretic, and impending doom flooding my senses – a feeling that I had only felt two other times in my life for unknown reasons. Thankfully, I regained consciousness and was immediately surrounded by the panicked faces of my family and concerned passengers. This traumatic experience and second chance at life led me to make a serious investment in my health.
After visiting a local urgent care, all my testing including the EKG, cardiac blood work, chest x-ray, and CT scan all came back normal. At this moment, my wife and I knew that we needed to get this investigated further and we continued to advocate to be referred to a cardiologist. After a series of doctors’ appointments with specialists, it was determined that I have a rare heart condition known as Sick Sinus Syndrome. Although this syndrome is uncommon, the risk of developing it increases with age. Similarly, many people with this condition eventually need a pacemaker to regulate this rhythm. So, on May 26th, one day prior to my 44th birthday, I was admitted to Albany Medical Center’s Electrophysiology surgery unit to receive a 2018 state-of-the-art Medtronic dual monitor pacemaker.
For this, I felt very fortunate and blessed to have this life-saving procedure and device for my birthday present. In the end, my main takeaway from this conference and event is that life is short and not everybody gets a second chance to reset the clock. I am so thankful that this situation turned out well for my family and myself. We can’t thank enough all the caring volunteers on Southwest flight 3759, and the medical professionals who just happened to be sitting near me who “paused for a moment,” to care for a person who needed help.
Fast forward 5 years, and I am proud to say that although this journey has been challenging, I have been able to continue living my healthy, active life – and for that I am so blessed. Over a span of two years, I successfully hiked all 46 high peaks in the Adirondack Mountain Range with a pacemaker and my son Michael by my side. My journey to becoming a 46er wasn’t easy, but it is a badge of honor I will always hold close to my heart. I like to compare hiking a mountain to the journey of life. Although there are hardships and challenging moments, the view from the top is always worth it.
Click here to learn more and help support American Heart Association 2023 Leaders of Impact campaign.