Photo of Paul Saxon sitting on his motorcycle on a bright sunny day.

Paul Saxon - Sanford, MI

“I have to give credit to the heart and vascular team. I can’t say enough good things about them. They have taken tip-top care of me”

Learning to Manage His Heart Failure and Live Life to the Fullest

Sanford resident Paul Saxon, age 66, has always been active. He likes to spend time outdoors either working, walking his dog or riding his motorcycle. In 2018, while helping his friend demo a house, he found himself in the unusual circumstance of having to stop what he was doing to rest. He was exhausted and short of breath. Saxon went to urgent care to have it checked out and landed in the hands of the heart and vascular team at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland.

Paul received a diagnosis of systolic congestive heart failure, a condition in which the left ventricle loses its ability to contract normally and the heart is unable to pump with enough force to push sufficient blood into circulation. In fact, his heart was only functioning at 10 percent.

Electrophysiologist Opesanmi Esan, M.D., installed a defibrillator and prescribed follow-up care with Cardiologist and Heart Failure Specialist Jeffrey Martindale, D.O., and his team at MyMichigan’s Heart Failure Clinic.

“Both of these doctors really helped me out,” said Paul. “I look at Dr. Esan as the electrical guy, and Dr. Martindale as the muscle guy. We all work together for the best possible results. Looking back, I was having a hard time sleeping at night and see that some of my weight gain was water build-up due to my heart not functioning properly.”

MyMichigan’s Heart Failure Clinic helps heart failure patients manage their condition and maximize their quality of life. At the clinic, Paul has learned about the positive effects diet, exercise and medications have in order to help keep his heart healthy. He has learned how to monitor and maintain good blood pressure. He has also learned how to keep an eye out for water retention by watching for swelling in the backs of his hands. If there is excess, he takes water pills as needed. “When I have questions or issues, Medical Assistant Krissa Michael at the Clinic is quick to return my calls with additional information or instructions.”

Dr. Martindale has been working with cardiac patients at the clinic for almost ten years. “Mr. Saxon is a great patient to collaborate with,” said Dr. Martindale. “He works in the woods like a man half his age but knows how to self-monitor. He is an example of how patients can learn to manage their condition and continue to live a long, full life.”

Paul is grateful for his cardiac care team. “Now, I know to keep an eye on my weight, monitor my blood pressure every day and try to watch my diet as best I can,” he said. “I believe exercise is really a major part of getting my normal heart function back, so I don’t let up on that.” In fact, Paul’s heart function is up to 59 percent, and he is happy to be clearing trees, hauling wood and taking in fresh air while riding his bike.

“I can do everything that I used to do,” he shared, “and I have to give credit to the heart and vascular team. I can’t say enough good things about them. They have taken tip-top care of me.”

MyMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. For additional information about heart failure or MyMichigan’s Heart Failure Clinic, visit www.mymichigan.org/heartfailure or www.mymichigan.org/heartfailureclinic.

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