Around Carmelo Gordon’s neck is a golden chain holding a golden cross.
His mother placed it there when he was 14 years old and there it has since remained. But the 68-year-old Calhoun resident is quick to explain that it is not just a decoration or simple jewelry. Rather, it serves as symbol of all that he believes.
Last year, Gordon found himself clinging to those beliefs like never before as he faced his son’s passing from cancer and his own health scare just hours apart.
"Three weeks before my son passed and before he lost his ability to speak, my son said, ‘Dad, God is going to do something great for you,’” Gordon remembers. “I had no idea that it would be two angels right here on earth.”
At 2:20 a.m. on June 16, 2013 – only four hours after his son had passed away – Gordon drove himself to Gordon Hospital’s Emergency Center with severe chest pains.
“Every single traffic light was green for me,” he remembers. “That was no coincidence. The doctor told me that if I had been just two minutes later, I would have died.”
Once he made his way inside the emergency center, Gordon explained to the receptionist that his chest felt as if it were in a vise. That is all he remembers until later when a physician informed him that he had suffered a heart attack.
Gordon had actually collapsed and was carried to a trauma room where he was revived. After being stabilized, Gordon underwent a diagnostic cardiac catheterization at Gordon Hospital and two blockages were discovered.
“I was transported by ambulance to Rome to have stents put in and I will never forget the young lady driving that ambulance,” he says, grinning. “She came over to me said, ‘I’m going to be like Danica Patrick. I’ll get you there in a hurry!’ And she did.”
After recovering from surgery, Gordon was prescribed a cardiac rehabilitation program.
“At first, they had me enrolled in a program in Rome, but a Higher Power changed that plan,” he says. “I was instead sent to Calhoun and that is where I met my two angels.”
Gordon says he was hesitant about the program at first.
“I was actually petrified,” he admits. “But that didn’t last long.”
After meeting his ‘angels’ – Cindy Butler, RN, clinical coordinator for Gordon Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program, and Sam Shadburn, exercise physiologist – Gordon knew he was in good hands.
“Ms. Butler sat me down and told me that she could see a mask of fear on my face,” he remembers. “She told me to trust her and that she was going to help me.”
Gordon admits his heart problems were the results of bad eating habits and an unhealthy weight. At 5’9 and 270 pounds, he knew he had a lot of work ahead to get his life back on track. But thanks to his angels, he plunged ahead.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program aimed at helping patients recover more quickly from a heart attack or surgery and improve their overall physical, mental and social functioning. Following a physician referral, most cardiac rehab patients participate in a 12-week tailor-made program that includes three exercise sessions per week. Butler and Shadburn closely monitor the sessions that utilize stationary bicycles, treadmills, free weights and other equipment as deemed necessary for each patients' needs.
“Cindy and Sam take care of the whole patient,” says Beth Crew, director of surgical services and cardiac rehab at Gordon Hospital. “They are 100 percent committed to helping their patients recover not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.”
Crew also credits Gordon’s attitude and his willingness to work for his success.
“Carmelo was a model patient for our cardiac rehab team,” she says. “He found the determination, will, and drive to be successful in this program.”
Exactly one year after he collapsed, Gordon’s weight is down to 188 pounds and his blood pressure is perfectly normal.
But he quickly takes no credit for himself.
“I received a second chance at life from Upstairs,” he says pointing Heavenward with unapologetic tears in his eyes. “But He also gave me two angels to be by my side. If not for Cindy and Sam, I would not be here. I hope I’ve made them proud.”