MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A week after Brad Moody considered seeing a doctor for some off-and-on shortness of breath issues, he was in the hospital having quadruple bypass surgery to repair blockages in his heart.
And changes in his life following the March 2, 2009, procedure were just as drastic and immediate: He quit smoking, began monitoring his sodium intake and started walking almost an hour a day five days a week.
"I had never had any heart problems or any symptoms until about this time five years ago when I started having a little shortness of breath while walking through the parking lot," the 70-year-old said. "Not every time, but some. And on a Saturday, my wife and I started talking about having to do something about it.
"We went to church that next day ... and I woke up on Monday morning, and I just couldn't get my breath."
Moody, who recently retired from Auburn Montgomery after serving as a political science professor for 40 years, was taken to the hospital that Monday morning and "by then, I really couldn't breathe. They put me on a ventilator for a day. They don't know exactly what happened, but they don't think it was a heart attack. After a couple of days, they did an (endocardiogram), and said I had four blockages.
"So that was on a Thursday, and they did the (quadruple) bypass surgery on a Monday. I went home on Saturday."
Through it, Moody considers himself lucky. He knows the 40 years of smoking — five years with cigarettes and 35 years with a pipe — could have caused damage to his lungs that would not have made him healthy enough to undergo the bypass surgery. Regardless, quitting was one of the hardest things he has had to do.
"Being a parent and a spouse is hard work," he said. "But other than those two things, quitting smoking was the hardest thing I had to do. They said, obviously, 'You're going to quit smoking unless you want to come back in here very, very soon.' I went to a smoking cessation clinic at Baptist, and I went to the cardio-fitness program at Baptist."
And Moody learned that exercise is not helping him only physically, but also psychologically.
"I don't get the 'high,' but I can really tell the difference in how I sleep, in how I feel," he said. "The exercise is important to do."
With those two changes implemented in his daily life, eating didn't change too much.
The sodium intake was watched more carefully, but otherwise he said his wife, Margie, has always been very careful with what they eat.
"But we never paid that much attention to salt," he said. "It's really revealing when you look at a lot of these prepared foods. These foods you can buy frozen and prepare. It has incredibly high salt content.
"Now when we purchase foods, we pay more attention to the sodium content. We have not cut out red meats. We try to eat some kind of fish or chicken a couple of times a week, but my Margie has always been careful about having a balanced diet."
Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com