After the initial shock that I had 5 blocked arteries wore off, I knew I had to do something - and do it fast. I made appointments with 2 surgeons to see which one I liked. I met the first one and before I could meet the second, I received a call from a friend that asked if I would like to meet Dr. Oz. I said yes and she said to be in his office Thursday morning.
On my way there, I kept thinking he wouldn't really be there - he's a TV star. At 7:30am on December 10, 2009, I was sitting in the waiting room when the conference room door opened.
Dr. Oz entered and asked if I was David. I said yes - and he sat down next to me, putting his hand on mine. He said, "It will be ok. We will talk after your exam."
A strange feeling of calmness swept over me; I just knew this felt right. After the exam I went into his office and looked at the plaques lining his wall. When he walked in, I said something about his kids and we immediately hit it off.
We started to discuss my options, which weren't many: have surgery or a have a heart attack. He explained everything to me and, to my surprise, I was not nervous. Our conversation ended as he said he would be in touch and, as far as having surgery, the sooner the better.
Then he asked if I would be willing with my family to be filmed during this life change, because as he put it, I had a very compelling story to tell and could help thousands of people. I told him yes.
As I was about to leave, he came from behind the desk, shook my hand and gave me a hug, stating "If your wife has any questions, have her call me. Everything will be fine." At that point I knew in my still-beating heart I was making the right decision.
We scheduled the surgery for only a few weeks later, January 7. Dr. Oz's crew came and filmed my family for 8 hours; they were the kindest people I have met.
They continued filming the next morning, the day of the surgery. At the hospital, I was taken upstairs to get prepped for the procedure. Again, I never doubted my decision to have the procedure filmed or to have Dr. Oz perform it. He came down to talk to me and my family; we all hugged and cried and then I was off to the operating room.
Dr. Oz came in again before they put me out. He held my hand and said, "We are going to be alright." When I woke up, I think it was 3 days later - everything is a blur. I was in the ICU. Tubes were everywhere and I couldn't move. After 2 more days, they removed what felt like hundreds of wires and drains; I was finally moved from the ICU.
I was free to walk and, to my amazement, I could hardly move. I had difficulty breathing; they gave me an oxygen machine to practice breathing and prescribed medication. I became depressed and my wife tells me now that I was rude to everyone. I honestly don't remember.
The hospital staff forced me to walk but I felt like a brittle old man. Gone was the big, vibrant man I used to be. When discharge day came, I started to get happy about going home. I couldn't eat the hospital food, everything smelled and tasted disgusting. They said that's the anesthesia.
After saying goodbye to the nurses and PA's who took great care of me, I was finally on my way. The ride home back to New Jersey was brutal; every bump and brake was a painful experience. Back home, I got changed and tried to lie down; it wasn't easy. I sat in my recliner not knowing that for the next 8 weeks it would be my chair and bed, doing a number on my back and backside. I would sit for about an hour, and then get up every half hour do my breathing exercise. I could not sit for long and my attention span was like a child's.
The depression that settled in was unbelievable. Everything made me upset; I was helpless to do anything for my self. My wife had to shower me, dry me off and dress me, make my meals and serve me. I was devastated. At night, my wife would get up and lift me off the couch with a sheet every 2 hours.
The one thing I remember most is not recognizing myself in the mirror. I saw what was a long, drawn, old man that was not me. Two weeks went by and I made my first car ride to the cardiologist. When we got there, people stared at me like, why is this young guy here? I felt so self-conscious.
The doctor examed me and said I needed to go to the hospital for a scan on my leg; it was swollen and there could be a clot. Off we went and - thank God - the results were negative.
As time passed, I started to look and feel like my old self. For me, the one thing that changed the most was my diet. I have lost 30 pounds so far and I've changed the way my family eats and cooks. Everything is low-fat or fat-free, low-sodium products are now a staple in my home.
You have to take stock of yourself and realize you can't keep living like you have. So many young people don't believe that this could happen to them they are WRONG. It can and will if you are not careful.
Healthy diet and exercise can reduce your chances of undergoing a procedure like I had. It was no walk in the park. If one person reads this and decides to make a change then I have done my job by giving back.