Thankful and Celebrating Life after a Year Filled With Challenges
Mike Twarozynski enjoyed spending this cold Michigan winter vacationing in Key Largo, Florida.
Sanford resident Mike Twarozynski is a glass-half-full guy. He loves his work as the vice president of finance for a software company and is happily married. As a former athlete, navigating manageable health conditions including diabetes and a susceptibility to lung infections, he did his best to balance exercise, travel and the pressures of managing customer contracts. In the spring of 2020, he would face two challenges that would tax any optimist: a flood that damaged the entire first level of his Sanford home and triple bypass surgery.
Twarozynski has a family history of heart disease. His father, grandfather and siblings have all been treated for cardiac conditions. As a former cross country runner, he knew the importance of minimizing his chances of serious cardiac disease by exercising and avoiding smoking. Unlike his siblings, his cholesterol was within the normal range.
“I had been waking up in the middle of the night with pain for three weeks,” said Twarozynski. “I thought it was my lungs – a case of bronchitis or some type of infection which was not unusual for me. Sitting up helped, so I would do that and get back to sleep.” But the week after flooding amid repairs on his home, Twarozynski had chest pain he couldn’t ignore. He went to urgent care. In addition to chest pain his evaluation identified elevated blood pressure and a severely swollen left ankle that indicated heart trouble. He was sent to the Emergency Department at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. “It was determined that I wasn’t actively having a heart attack but when they discovered blockages, they put me in the front of the line with Dr. Collar at the Heart and Vascular Center,” said Twarozynski.
Cardiovascular Surgeon Alonso Collar, M.D., performed a coronary artery bypass grafting procedure to open the blocked arteries leading to Twarozynski’s heart, which was operating at only 25 percent efficiency. “Mr. Twarozynski was fortunate to have made it to us when he did with minimal damage to the heart,” said Dr. Collar.
Following his surgery, Twarozynski completed cardiac rehab and made conscientious lifestyle changes which have helped him recover. He has lost more than 80 pounds and no longer requires insulin injections for his diabetes. Twarozynski works hard to maintain a well-rounded fitness routine and has modified his diet to include reductions to both calories and portions. He has also increased his intake of fiber and decreased his alcohol intake. “Transitioning was fairly easy for me,” he said. “Exercise was already a habit and diet changes mainly involved portion control. The changes weren’t complicated.”
When asked what he might like to share with others about his experiences at MidMichigan and with recovery, Twarozynski was not short on words. “I am so appreciative of Dr. Collar and the staff at MidMichigan Health. They saved my life,” he said. “They also gave me excellent, personalized care. They saw that I was motivated and following directions and supported my quick return to work when they knew that I was committed to doing so safely. They continue to help me by putting directions and directives for treatment into context so that I understand the “why” of things,” he added.
Twarozynski was also clear about what he feels others should consider if they find themselves in similar circumstances. “There are three parts to it: before, during and after the hospital,” he stated. “Before, don’t wait. It’s better to be safe than sorry. During, give yourself over to the experts, the doctors and nurses. Don’t fuss. Do everything they say, unequivocally. And after, change your behavior in a purposeful and mindful way. Do the right things in order to extend your life as long as possible. It’s simple.”
Those who would like more information on MidMichigan Health’s comprehensive Heart and Vascular Program may visit www.midmichigan.org/heartandvascular.