Xavier’s story

A heartfelt promise

Xavier* woke up with pain in his chest. He thought it might be indigestion. At noon, it was still there.

"I ignored it," he said. "Typical guy, right?"

Even though he had been experiencing shortness of breath for some time, he had attributed it to being overweight, and this was the first instance of pain.

The pain continued into the afternoon. Xavier decided it was time to take action, but he still didn't want to admit anything was wrong. He asked a coworker for a ride to Adventist Health Sonora, saying he had a bad case of indigestion.

In the Emergency Room, he was admitted right away. The last thing he remembers is a staff member placing an electrode on his chest.

"Next thing I know, a doctor is in my face saying, 'Xavier, are you still with us?’"

His heart had stopped. "They told me I was shocked twice," to restart his heart, he said.

Xavier was transported by helicopter to Doctors Hospital in Modesto. He had two blocked arteries each requiring two stents. Once released, he knew he needed to make a change.

"There were a lot of people in the ER that gave their all to make sure I survived. I owe these folks my life. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here," he said. "There's no way to pay them back. All I could do is promise to do better."

He is keeping that promise.

Xavier has changed his diet, manages his high blood pressure, walks every day and joined Adventist Health Sonora's cardiac rehabilitation program, a 12-week program incorporating exercise and education to help patients regain their quality of life.

"What's nice about the cardiac rehabilitation program is that it's educational, relaxed and encouraging," he said.

Xavier has made great progress. He has lost about 15 pounds and can easily walk for an hour. He's planning to continue the great progress he's made by joining Adventist Health Sonora's exercise maintenance program when rehabilitation ends.

Xavier is committed to changing his lifestyle for good. "It's about restoring your heart health,” he said.

*Name has been changed.