"The Heart of the Matter" with a photo of John Baisden

John Baisden worked hard his whole life, including the last 20 years working outdoors, in all conditions, as a cable guy. (Cue the jokes!) But no one was laughing on the day that John discovered that his lungs were filling up with fluid due to bout with poison ivy that had gone internal. He later discovered that his lungs were actually bleeding and that his heart was in major trouble causing his legs to swell and his breathing to become labored.

Another trip to the hospital and scans of his heart resulted in an Agatston (calcium around the heart) score of 600. A score greater than 300 is a sign of very high to severe disease and heart attack risk. But, John did not have a heart attack--he had an extremely large heart and congestive heart failure.

Surgery was not in the protocol, but cardiac rehabilitation was. So, John began his program with Summa Health in Barberton. During this time, John learned about his heart and how it works, as well as how to lower his risk for the future. The program called for a modification of his diet and an exercise plan that fit his availability and his needs.

Summa Health’s partnership with the Akron Area YMCA led John to the Wadsworth YMCA where continued 90-day program under the guidance of Gary Lake, Health and Wellness Director of the Akron Area YMCA.

That was in 2018.

Today, John is a full-fledged member of the Y. He visits an average of 6 days a week, working a program that Gary has set and modified over the years. This includes a full morning of walking on the Wadsworth YMCA indoor track, walking on the treadmill and riding on the indoor bikes.

“John has been as faithful as anyone we have ever had,” said Lake. “He’s certainly the poster boy for our work with the Cardiac Rehab program, as he was one of our first referrals from Summa.”

“When I first came here to Gary, I thought ‘this guy’s trying to kill me,” laughed Baisden. But, what he was doing was finding out what I could tolerate and then putting me on a path where I could continuously improve.”

And, improve he did.

John’s body weight is significantly lower and, jus recently, his doctor took him off of some of the heart medications due to his progress and continued commitment to his health.

“For me, the Y has been a lifeline,” said Baisden. “I really don’t think that people understand what this place has done for me. The people here have made a bright day out of a very dark period in my life.”

Gary Lake and John Baisden on the track at the Wadsworth YMCA
Gary Lake (left) and John Baisden (right) on the track at the Wadsworth YMCA.