LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A 49-year-old Lufkin man rolled into CHI St. Luke's Cardiac Rehab Program in a wheelchair with an amputated leg. Within months, he left the building jogging. Kevin Cole told KTRE resilience and faith is how he began to walk down the road to recovery.
"I had laid across the bed, and I couldn't breathe. I said we have to go to the emergency room," said Kevin Cole.
It was the beginning of a life changing journey for Cole. What started as a trip to a basketball game ended as a trip to have quadruple bi-pass surgery.
"I am not having a heart attack! I couldn't believe at my age I was having a heart attack," Cole said.
Cole was suffering congestive heart failure.
"Some of the doctors had doubt that I would make it through," Cole said.
With prayer and perseverance, he did.
"I took the heart attack with stride and kept the positive attitude that I would be okay," Cole said.
Just as the trials and tribulations seemed to be fading, Cole's poor blood flow to his legs proved that they were just beginning.
"What's going on now? They had to amputate my leg," Cole said. "I took the leg amputation worse than I took the heart attack."
Cole made his mind that he would not be defeated. He began specialized treatment with the CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.
"He came in very positive and motivated to get things back in action," said Landon Evans, a clinical exercise physiologist.
"I believe in myself and God, and I'm not going to sit in a wheelchair. I'm not using a walker. I'm not using crutches," Cole said. "It helped me be stronger. I'm a stronger person now than I was then."
Cole is grateful for the support of his wife.
"Everything that needed to be taken care of, she did. From me being sick to financially. She took on the role of head of household," Cole said.
"He was an inspiration to so many patients. They would say, 'I can't do it' and look at Kevin and say, 'You know what, I can do it too,'" Cole said.
"Without a positive attitude, you won't make it. I kept a positive attitude to make it."
Within months, Cole was walking backwards, doing squats, and jogging with the help of hope and a prosthetic leg.
"I didn't want anyone to say you can't do this. You're handicapped. I'm not handicapped. You can keep that. I can do the same thing you can do," Cole said.
Cole said he counts this journey as a blessing. He gives this testimony.
"Nothing in your life is that bad that you give up," Cole said.