By-pass surgery survivor says quitting smoking was easy, the diet was difficult

Grateful Heart

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Today’s Grateful Heart prevented what likely would have been a massive heart attack by eventually listening to his dedicated doctor and his wife.

Now, his outlook on life and his health have changed, all thanks to a helping of chicken fried steak.

As the vice president of student services for Butler Community College, Bill Rinkenbaugh enjoyed going through life without giving his health much consideration.

So, it took a team of people to make sure Bill’s heart got the attention it needed before it was too late.

“I got ready to go to work, told my wife that pepper gravy you made didn’t sit well with me. I said I’m fine now. She said do you need to go to the hospital? I said no I’m fine,” remembers Bill.

Bill got to work and went through his morning meetings.

He even called the doctor and left a message describing his early morning symptoms.

Later in the day, Bill learned his doctor wanted him to stop by the hospital for a few tests.

Those tests revealed an ambulance would need to take him to the Kansas Heart Hospital.

“So I get over there, they do a heart cath and say I’ve got blockages in five of my arteries, none of them are at 100 percent. They’re 80 and 90 percent blocked. A heart cath won’t do any good, he needs quadruple bypass surgery,” he explains.

A couple days later that procedure was successful, and now Bill’s made a few lifestyle changes. He walks five miles every day before work. He quit smoking.

“To be honest with you, what hacked me off is that i didn’t stop smoking sooner. Because it was easy to quit. When they’re telling you, you gotta give these up or you’re gonna be taking a dirt nap it was pretty easy to walk away from those.”

Bill says the hardest change for him to make was his diet. However, he says those changes have been worth it.

“I had three grandkids and wanted to be around for more. I’ve got five now so that’s kinda cool.”

Shortly after his procedure, Bill says he learned about the American Heart Association and the Wichita Heart Walk.

He’s now an avid participant and enjoys bringing a little Butler Community College purple to the Wichita State campus.

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