Lesa Lowery joined the Saint John Regional Y in March of 2016. She worked out in the fitness centre, attended the odd fitness class and swam regularly. She never planned to stop her routine.
But during a trip to Florida with some girlfriends in April, Lowery was experiencing an uncomfortable cough, which she thought was caused by the Florida Red Tide (a growth of microscopic algae).
It wasn’t until she returned home that she realized something else was wrong.
“When I got home I was still coughing like crazy and thought I better go get it checked out,” she said. “I thought I had a chest infection. When I would exercise I would cough and couldn’t stop.”
What Lowery thought to be a chest infection, turned out to be much worse.
“From this experience I have learned that it’s not just chest pain that can cause a heart attack, everyone reacts differently,” she said.
After a trip to the hospital, Lowery discovered she had 80% blockage in her heart valves.
“I ended up staying at the hospital 17 days and needing major open heart surgery.”
Lowery spent months recovering before she got the all clear to begin doing the things she enjoyed again. Returning to the pool at the Y was on the top of her list.
“I now swim for hours every time I come to the Y, which is multiple times a week,” she said. “I have met some other swimmers who have similar experiences and who are getting healthy at the Y, while having fun.”
Lowery explained how important it is to keep moving to stay healthy.
“I am happy when I am in that pool and don’t feel like I am exercising because it’s fun.”