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Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009 03:45 pm

A Second Chance at Life - Part One

Here's a story from Tauna King in our advertising department. Tauna is going to share the story of her boyfriend Jim Burke's experiences with congestive heart failure and his subsequent recovery. We'll break it up into a couple of posts, so be sure and come back each day.

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Most people are capable of going through life with the mentality of “that couldn’t happen to me”. But now and then life will remind us that we’re not invincible especially when it comes to our health. Serious illnesses can develop at any age. People in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s can have the same conditions as someone over 65. Luckily, a few of us are fortunate enough to receive a warning sign and take full advantage of the opportunity to do something about it. Major choices will have to be made regarding changes to your current lifestyle, but your determination to live will get you through.

At the age of 36, Jim felt as most people his age did - that he had all the time in the world and his whole life was ahead of him. He worked non stop to keep his two businesses going, smoked two packs a day, usually ate poorly and on the run, had trouble sleeping and was struggling with an impending divorce, all with their own level of stress. He was constantly under pressure from all sides. Little did he know all these factors would play an important role with his health sooner rather than later. One day, everything changed and life as he knew it would never be the same.

It all began the evening of March 13, 2006 – the same night the tornados hit Springfield. Jim was at home sick with a cold and what he thought was bronchitis. I had called him a couple times regarding the storm, but he didn’t seem to care; he was not worried. In fact, he was not in the least concerned when I told him there was the possibility the entire block where his business was located may have been wiped out by a tornado. He just said that one of his employees would go check it out. The business was fine but had no power. He worked from home for the next couple days trying to get things up and running again.

On Wednesday, March 15, we met at his business to check things out. We walked down the street and looked at the destruction. He commented a couple time about how tired he felt. Later that day he stopped by my mother’s house where I was picking up debris. He tried to help a little, but after picking up a couple branches, felt very weak and decided to stop. After dinner, he said he was not feeling well at all and did not want to spend the night but instead go home, even though I insisted on him staying. In my gut, I felt there was something not right about the way he looked and felt.

On his way out the door, I will never forget the image on his face - there was apprehension in his eyes, like he was worried about leaving. I asked him again to stay, but he insisted on leaving. I talked with him a bit later to make sure he made it home okay; he was home but still sitting in his car in the drive, because he lacked the energy to walk in the house. This worried me greatly.

To be continued....

Want to share your health story? Whether you've had good or bad experiences, we want to hear about it. Write something about 200-300 words and send it to me at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com. The best reader stories will be posted on the blog, so put your best foot forward!

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