On May 29, 3013, Jim Brown felt a stabbing pain in his chest.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, and I thought I had heart burn,” he said.
He made a doctor’s appointment a few days later. His EKG heart test checked out normal, but he failed a stress test and was referred to a cardiologist.
About two weeks later, Jim learned that five arteries leading to his heart were blocked. He endured an 8-hour surgery so his heart could be “re-plumbed” with veins from his legs.
“When I woke up, the surgeon said ‘I don’t know why you are alive, but I saved you,’” Jim said.
Jim, 64, said that since he had never smoked and didn’t have high cholesterol, his veins were likely clogged because of stress.
“I didn’t know stress could kill you, but it can,” Jim said.
While recovering from his surgery, he struggled with depression until a good friend told him that he had to get up and start walking.
Jim heeded his friend’s advice and ventured outside to walk a half block. He slowly increased his walking until he reached 2 miles. But, his wife worried about him walking alone.
“She didn’t like me walking the streets, so we came to the Y,” Jim said.
At first, Jim was hesitant about joining.
“I felt like I would be the oldest one, but I found out I’m not,” he said about the Y.
He also had a financial incentive to exercise at the Y because his employer’s insurance program offers reimbursement for exercising a certain number of times per month at the Y.
The Y has become part of Jim’s routine. He works from 6 a.m. to about 6 p.m. as the hardware store manager at CHS Agri Coop and then heads to the Y for his walking or exercising on the Nu-Step. His daily attendance at the Y and his outgoing personality helped him gain many new friends and lots of support from Y staff and fellow members.
“Now, if I don’t come up to the Y, I don’t feel complete for that day,” he said.
Jim exercises at the Y six days a week most weeks, and sometimes seven days a week. His exercise the past two and a half years has helped him drop nearly 90 pounds, and he feels great.
“I’m getting ready to retire one of these days, and I‘ve got a second chance so I want to make the most of it,” Jim said.
He has seen too many friends die too soon because of heart problems and encourages everyone to pay attention to the signals their body is giving. He encourages anyone over age 50 to get a stress test.
“If I can help someone else, I will get up on my soapbox and tell them,” Jim said.