Charles Whitby, Eugene, Oregon
“I didn’t think it could happen to me,” Charles Whitby recalls.
Like many men in his 50’s, Charles believed he was in good shape and couldn’t be at risk for heart disease.
“I don’t have a family history of heart disease and I was thin and fairly active; however, my 'meat and potatoes' diet probably didn’t help my situation,” Whitby says.
When he started getting mild chest pains, Charles dismissed it as heartburn. When the pain radiated to his left arm and left jaw, he wondered if it might be something more.
At the urging of his wife of 30 years, Barbara, Charles attended a cardiovascular wellness screening at the Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Before he could even get the test results back, the chest pains increased and Charles ended up in the ER at Sacred Heart. He underwent further testing and received surprising news.
“I had 90 percent blockages in three areas of my heart. The doctor told me I could go home, but then he added, ‘We’ll see you back in an ambulance in a couple of weeks.’ My other option, he told me, was to take care of it right away with a simple procedure,’” Charles says.
Charles opted to have the procedure. That night, cardiologist Richard Padgett, MD, placed three stents inside Charles’s heart. The next day, Charles woke up and went home from the hospital, feeling good. By day three, he says, “I felt great!”
And life keeps getting better for Charles Whitby.
“I feel like I did when I was 30. I have more energy, a new spunk in my step, and people notice that. I’m eating better and I’m also sleeping as well as I did in high school — I used to wake up all night long — so now I’m able to focus and concentrate better during the day,” he says.
For his 55th birthday, Charles wanted to do something extra special. In the past, he tried to climb Mt. Pisgah, but the pain in his chest kept him from making it to the top.
“I wanted to take the heart for a test drive, so I went to climb Mt. Pisgah on my birthday, and made it all the way to the top, with no pain at all. I had a wonderful feeling of accomplishment,” he says.
This father of two (and grandfather of three) also has a desire to share his story with people those who think heart disease is someone else’s problem.
“Talk to your doctor. Get screened for heart disease. The screening is easy,” he says, “And, it could save your life.”