January 27, 2021
In 2018, we shared the story of Thomas Redmond who was nicknamed “the healthiest man in the ICU”. Before he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Hackensack University Medical Center, Thomas felt great. He maintained a vegetarian diet, exercised regularly and had no concerning symptoms.
It was during a routine wellness appointment that doctors discovered something was wrong. Thomas had a large aortic aneurysm that was in danger of rupturing and was likely life-threatening. Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center saved his life, and rehab at Palisades Medical Center got Thomas back to his old self.
We checked in on Thomas two years later and he provided some recent photos. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How have you been feeling since the surgery to repair your aortic aneurysm and replace your bicuspid valve?
A: Right now I’m feeling great. The only minor issue is, because of COVID, I had to stop going to the gym for a while. I gained a little bit of weight and feel like I’ve lost some muscle tone but that’s only temporary.
I did have another small procedure in August 2019 called a cardiac ablation. Dr. Bareket [my long-time cardiologist] recommended I get this done to help control my occasional abnormal heart rhythm (supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT). It’s typically harmless, but he wanted to be extra careful considering the major surgery I previously had.
Q: Have you done anything special that you couldn’t do before?
A: In March, right before COVID hit, I retired, closed our consulting business and my wife and I moved from Hoboken to Red Bank. This was a big adjustment for me, since I had been working 10 hours a day or so for 55 years. But it’s really nice to be “back home”, to the area where we used to live. It’s a quieter and peaceful environment, it’s really nice.
Q: What have you changed in your life to stay heart healthy?
A: I’ve always had a healthy lifestyle, so I’ve been focused on keeping that up. I started to practice tai chi, and I stay active, eat healthy and set new non-working life goals regularly.
Q: How have you been keeping healthy during the pandemic?
A: The tai chi classes I attend are now virtual and although I can’t go to the gym as often as I’d like, I go for walks. I have also poured my newly available free time into music composition and have several exciting projects going on at the moment, including a classical music project and producing lullabies. I also stay focused on setting and reaching goals. It’s nothing fancy, but I keep a notepad on my desk that outlines what I want to accomplish each month. For example, 16 gym sessions, 16 hours working on music, etc. Each time I complete a task, I mark it down. It keeps me on track and it’s a way to know when to make course corrections.
Q: What would you want people to learn from your experience?
A: Be alert. Get checkups regularly. Live a healthy lifestyle.
At 70 years old, my knees, hips and ankles are still ok. I have good balance. If you have that aspiration and focus, it pays off and it’s enormously worthwhile. Be vigilant with preventive care, vigilant with staying active and eating healthy and did I mention stay vigilant?
Next Steps and Resources:
- Watch as Thomas Redmond shares his story.
- Keep your health in check. Make an appointment with a primary care physician today.