Dan’s medical history includes contracting bacterial meningitis, a cardiovascular disease diagnosis and the placement of multiple stents following a severe heart attack. Here he describes these aspects of his health journey and shares the wisdom he’s gained from them.

Facing Mortality

I [once] contracted bacterial meningitis and have no memories of 72 hours in ICU, but I recovered and it didn’t stop me from seeing my six grand kids show up and grow into mature, young people who are contributing to a better community and building stronger family connections.

[I also had] a sudden severe heart attack that required placement of 5 stents within 3 hours of the blockages. The heart attack occurred around noon and by 5pm, I was in Cardiac ICU recovering from the angioplasty.

I was still working when the heart attack occurred and I was terminated three months after the event, but I didn’t mind the change. I was re-employed within two months. I continued to work 40-60 hours a week until 2016 when I decided to reduce my hours at a seasonal job. Continuing working has been a definite plus for my physical and mental health.

I know how hard it [is] to face mortality, but recovery is possible. Enjoy what’s left of your life. Illness is a wake-up call, it’s not the end. It’s not the end of anything except maybe unhealthy habits.

Accepting Change

If you are sent to cardiac rehab, do it. I thought I was recovered fine a week after my [heart] attack, but when I went to rehab, I quickly found out how much heart capacity and strength I had lost. This spurred me on to get into the programs and stick with it.

It has been over 10 years since the first five stents were placed and over eight years since my sixth stent was placed. Staying active has helped me recover my heart capacity and I know when I have slacked off and need to get more active. When you’re over 50, any illness impacts physical health and recovery takes longer. I want to be a contributing member of the community as long as possible.

Look at the positives of the non-lethal event and [don’t] let it crush you. Changes will be necessary, but your second or third chance in life is a gift.

The new landscape is not a flat plain, it can have both valleys and hills. Go for the hills. 

Dan B.
Minneapolis, MN
Diagnosed with cardiovascular disease in 2009

What have you learned from your health journey? Share your perspective with the community.