“Yes, Mr. Reynolds you are definitely having a heart attack.” With those words my entire world came crumbling down. In that moment, the doctor couldn’t tell me whether I was going to survive it. That question wouldn’t be answered for several more days.
Let me back up for a minute. Everything that has been great in my life has happened while I’ve worked for The Container Store. I met and married my wife, Amy, and together we had our beautiful baby, Serena. Last year, that great life almost came to an end when I started having a heart attack while driving to work. I had pain in my left arm and my chest. It wasn’t a massive pain; it wasn’t something I couldn’t work through. But I had lost my best friend to a heart attack, so I knew the signs.
I have no idea how, but I kept my wits about me and found a nearby hospital. I immediately had all my loved ones by my side. We learned that I had 80-90% blockage in all five of my coronary arteries, so surgery was a massive undertaking to say the least. They had to use veins from my head, arm and leg to repair my heart.
When I received my diagnosis of Severe Coronary Artery Disease, I felt like I had been handed a death sentence. There was no way I’d ever be able to do everything the doctors wanted me to in order to improve my heart health. I just knew I would fail. And that meant I would die. I was going to die before I turned 50. That’s only 11 years away.
But here’s the thing about my wife. She fixes things, so she set out to fix my mindset. She did the research to show me all the ways I would beat this. She showed me how I have every chance in the world to live a long life. And she told me that I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it or she would kick my tail. Period.
Once we were home the changes were immediate. Amy took a cue from my physical therapists and made me walk on the treadmill for three times a day for at least ten minutes at a time. I didn’t like her very much that first week! She also changed the way we all eat. She doesn’t just cook a special meal for me while everyone else gets to have their treats. We all eat the same foods. We are all healthier because of my heart attack. (Thanks to her and others, by the date of my first cardiac rehab appointment, I had lost 40+ pounds!)
For anyone who thinks it couldn’t happen to them… please think again. Heart attacks happen when you least expect them. Do your research and know what to expect when the symptoms come on. That knowledge saved my life. And don’t wait until after a heart attack to make changes. Make small choices every day to eat better and exercise more. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The heart healthy recipes my wife makes are some of the most amazing dishes I have ever eaten! So, do yourself and your family a favor and take care of your heart!!