Editor’s Note: February is American Heart Month. Each Thursday of this month, the Clinton Herald is publishing feature stories about how to improve heart health.
CLINTON — It was just before Labor Day when John David noticed that his back was stiff.
His first thought was to attribute it to carrying a tripod a few days earlier. And even though he did not feel quite right, he brushed off the symptom.
Besides, he had a vacation coming up.
It was while on that trip a few days later that the WQAD-TV reporter, who was vacationing with his wife in Los Angeles, began experiencing classic heart attack symptoms.
“My chest started hurting and I knew something wasn’t right,” David said during an interview with the Clinton Herald this week. “Luckily, there was a hospital a mile away from where we were staying and my wife took me over there. I had called the doctor’s office but he was not working so I was referred to a nurse. They asked what my symptoms were and said I needed to get to the ER right away. Thank goodness they said that, otherwise it could have been a lot worse. Once at the hospital they sat me down and did an EKG and realized something wasn’t right.”
David, who has been employed with the Moline, Illinois TV station for over 28 years, said one stent was placed after his first heart attack. Then, just two weeks later, he suffered another heart attack while he was at a cardiologist’s office in Davenport. Two more stents were put in after his second heart event.
David now is back at work, but it was a long road to get there. He began the long work of regaining his strength and taking classes at cardiac rehab, a six-week program he said was beneficial to his recovery.
“I started going three days a week to cardiac rehab,” David said. “Cardiac rehab was great and did a lot to help in my recovery. They developed a specific program and diet for me that helped in my recovery.”
David returned to his role as a reporter at WQAD on Dec. 4, exactly three months after his first heart attack. David said his coworkers have been extremely supportive and helpful in his return to work. He has returned to an almost regular schedule and produces a story each day. He said he has not quite returned to the intensity level he was working at before the two heart attacks, as stress can be his biggest enemy.
“It was important for me to go back to work,” David said. “There are times I was doubting whether I’d be able to return to work and do my job. But it was important for me to return to work. It gave me a goal to shoot for and it felt like my therapy had a purpose. They’ve been good about keeping an eye on me and pacing me.”
David said that throughout the process he became more aware of the risk factors – such as family history, weight and not eating right – that he did not pay attention to prior to the two heart attacks. He said these factors all add up and paying attention to them early on can help down the road.
“Even if you don’t feel right go and get checked out,” David said. “Even if you think it’s a little thing. If I had, perhaps I would have had a better outcome.”