Health Education Week Gets Personal

Health Education Week Gets Personal

This third week of October celebrates National Health Education Week, focusing on increasing national awareness on major public health issues and promoting education.  Most of us say we want to be healthier, work out more, eat better—but, let’s face it, it’s hard. That is, possibly, until you receive the “proverbial” wake-up call.

After a devastating turn of events at a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic, one of Christian Brothers Servcies’ very own, Senior Graphic Designer Ross Lillwitz, suffered a heart attack, landing him in a whirlwind chain of events that had him flying home, facing a quadruple bypass and a shock to the system for him and his family who were all in attendance.

He reports the hospital staff in the Dominican were very caring and were able to stabilize him, but their outdated equipment had limitations for the surgery he required. Two days later he was on a plane home to Silver Cross Hospital who literally just begun an open heart surgery program a few weeks earlier. Through unwavering persistence from his wife Diane to make the move happen and from what he calls an amazing effort by CBS staff who handles his insurance and benefits, the unimaginable became bearable.

Sixteen weeks later, a cardio rehab graduate, he has become the self-proclaimed poster child for doing what it takes to get and stay healthy.

Lillwitz felt he had been living a healthy life all along—he ate fairly well and exercised regularly. But he had been experiencing minor chest pain the month prior to the attack, chalking it up to heartburn, never mentioning it to a doctor.

Once you start to take a closer look at your habits you begin to see where you can make a change. Burgers from Wendys—not a good idea. Eating a healthy breakfast of yogurt each morning—much better idea, jokes Lillwitz.

He is diligent about keeping to a healthy plan, regularly attending rehab work outs and maintaining a positive approach to daily lifestyle changes.  It is possibly this dedicated, healthy attitude that has quite literally made him the poster child for Silver Cross Hospital, where his story of recovery has been publicized in its own newsletters, social media and local newspaper articles like this one in the Daily Southtown.

Keep in mind: regular health checkups are essential as are knowing the signs and the symptoms of a heart attack which include: pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back; feeling weak, light-headed or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder; and shortness of breath.  

The Centers of Disease Control reports by living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. A healthy lifestyle includes eating a healthy diet ( think plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables; less processed foods), maintaining a healthy weight; actively exercising (150 minutes of exercise per week); not smoking; and limiting alcohol use (men, 2 drinks per day; women, 1).

Lillwitz cannot commend his doctor, rehab therapists and the help from CBS enough, who he says made the whole process less stressful thanks to excellent benefits and understanding—making him more prone to being an advocate for all three by keeping up with his new-found regimen.

Sharing his story, Lillwitz and CBS hopes this serves as the proverbial wake up call to take action and get healthy! If you are a health benefits member, CBS offers a library of preventative and wellness resources. For more information, visit here

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