Avid runner had no clue he was having a heart attack

“No one was more shocked than me to discover that I’d had a heart attack,” recalled Walter Davies. “I ran regularly for years and was in good shape. But it happened to me, and, I think, that’s the thing. It can happen to anyone, no matter how fit you are, how well you eat, how well you take care of yourself.”

It was during the St. Paddy`s Day Fun Run in Thunder Bay 6 years ago that Walter got a pain in his chest. “It was different than the burning pain I’d had when running” he recalled, “but I thought it was my lungs. I always thought it was my lungs, as my job over the years was in dusty dirty environments.”

“A short distance into the run I started to have a different pain in my chest. That’s it, I’m going to the emergency room to find out once and for all what is wrong with my lungs, and it was there that bloodwork revealed I’d had a heart attack.”

“My wife was in Ottawa visiting our daughter, but she flew home right away when she got the news,” said Walter. “I know she was as surprised as I was. I had run 10 miles the day before with my daughter and her friends and was fine. To discover that I’d had a heart attack was incomprehensible.”

Soon after, Walter received two stents in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. “I remember it was really cold in the room,” he said, “but everyone was terrific. I received excellent care here.”

“I even loved the food,” laughed Walter. “I discovered several years ago when living in Longlac that I am a celiac and so cannot have gluten. It was actually during a run that I thought I was having a heart attack because I was so tired, I couldn’t even run a ¼ mile without needing to rest. I ended up going to the Geraldton Hospital and found out my iron was very low, and was diagnosed as celiac. Diet change, iron pills and my energy slowly came back. Being celiac the special food they gave me in Thunder Bay Regional was great; I wasn’t expecting anything different than the others!”

Following his procedure, Walter took part in the cardiac rehabilitation program and loved that it helped him stay in shape. He was even able to get back running and completed a half-marathon six months later!

Avid runner Walter Davies was shocked to learn he’d had a heart attack. After being treated in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and completing cardiac rehab, he’s back to a very active lifestyle again and is very grateful for the care he received. – Submitted photo

“Sadly, these days I’m not running anymore,” he said, “I’ve had plantar faciitis in both feet, which makes it really difficult to run. However, I love to do other activities and have been cross country skiing frequently at Kamview, hopefully biking in the spring or maybe some easy running. It’s hard to give it up.”

In reflecting upon his cardiac journey Walter said, “It would have been really tough to have to leave town to receive care. I was really impressed by the team here and the excellent care they provided. We’re very lucky to have this service here to help, because no one really knows when they might need it. I’m one of the lucky ones. Many others have to leave Thunder Bay for different procedures like heart surgery. Hopefully we will have that level of care here in Thunder Bay soon.”

By Heather Vita
Special to the Times