Doug Gorton’s Story
Mine is not the before and after story of someone who has lost huge amounts of weight thanks to a new lifestyle comprised of healthy routine. To the contrary, my experience has been quite the opposite in many ways. I have belonged to Impact Health and Fitness and its predecessors since 1990. I have never smoked, consumed alcohol, or been overweight. I have always avoided unhealthy foods and I enjoy running, swimming and biking. Well into my 40’s I could still run a marathon in under 3 hours and a mile in under 5 minutes. In my early 5O’s I could still max my old Marine Corps physical fitness test with 20 pull-ups, 80 sit-ups in under 2 minutes, and a 3-mile run in under 18 minutes. I never got sick, didn’t take any medications, and generally believed that I was a cut above the average person.
That is until early September 2011 when out of the blue I became inexplicably weak and sickly. Over the next several weeks I spent most of my time in the hospital, worried and confused. My health continued to decline at the same time that all the lab tests and the expertise of the doctors failed to identify my illness. By the end of September I was having trouble breathing and at 53 years of age my mortality was staring me straight in the face. Finally, on September 29th I was diagnosed with a heart-valve disorder that required immediate open-heart surgery to replace my deteriorating mitral valve. The next morning my chest was cracked open and my heart and lungs were stopped for several hours while a mechanical mitral valve was inserted into my heart. My cardiac surgeon later told me that during my surgery he was shocked to see that my mitral valve was shredded. He found it surprising that l was able to breathe at all in tle days prior to my surgery and he credited my pre-existing fitness level with keeping me alive. While recovering over the next couple of months other doctors and specialists with whom I met also stressed how fortunate it was that I was in such good shape before I fell ill.
So now it has been four months since my surgery. I have been back to work for almost two months. I am running and I am lifting weights again. Despite the lows that I experienced during my ordeal, both physically and emotionally, I can truthfully say that I have come out of this experience a much better person. I have learned humility, I don’t take things for granted, and I am grateful for the blessings that each day brings. I am not yet exercising as aggressively as before but I derive more pleasure and satisfaction from it than I ever did before. I am grateful to God for the ability to be active and fit, which is truly a gift, and one that none of us should squander.