Two years ago, Kirk was living an active life, cycling for fitness at age 49. He was typically riding about 1,500-2,000 miles per year and in 2015 participated in the Trek Across Maine, a two-day, 180-mile cycling event that takes place on Father’s Day weekend each year.
On April 9, 2016, he cut his normal bike ride a little short, due to the colder weather. He went home, showered and realized that he was sweating more than usual. He lay on his bed under the ceiling fan and realized that what was normal sweating for him was becoming cold and clammy, and that he was feeling unwell. He began to feel numbness in his left arm and used his cell phone to call his wife who was downstairs in their home. Upon seeing Kirk’s face, which looked pale, she immediately called 911. Freeport Fire and Rescue responded and asked which hospital Kirk preferred. Once inside the ambulance, the choice of hospital was no longer a matter of opinion when EMTs realized that Kirk was experiencing a heart attack from coronary blockage. He was rushed to Maine Medical Center. In under two hours, Kirk was in recovery from emergency cardiac surgery to place a coronary artery stent.
Kirk credits the short elapsed time between identification of the heart attack to surgery for reducing the loss of oxygen and preserving his muscular function. In post-operative recovery, he pushed himself to begin walking as soon as he could, and with his cardiologist, Dr. Jennifer Hillstrom, began to learn how he could manage his condition with exercise and diet rather than medications, which he was reluctant to take. Kirk was enrolled in a high-intensity interval program at Turning Point Cardiac Rehab. Turning Point worked closely with Kirk to realize his goals and restore him to being every bit as active and strong as he was before the heart attack, re-establishing his confidence and supporting his progress every step of the way.
Today Kirk is stronger than he has ever been and is cycling even more than he did prior to his heart attack, doubling the number of annual cycling miles he logs one year after his heart attack. “In many ways,” Kirk says, “the heart attack has made me stronger.” In June of 2018, he once again competed in Trek Across Maine, as he did in both 2015 and 2017.