How a health screening saved a man’s life

05.25.2021

Guenther Simon feels fortunate to be alive today. For years, he kept ignoring the signs of big health problems until it was almost too late. He was exhausted all the time, had trouble breathing, lacked energy, couldn't sleep.
 
"I was a typical guy," said Guenther, 58. "I thought it would go away – it would get better."
 
Deep inside, though, he knew he was in bad shape. He just didn't know how bad. Guenther had lived with heart disease for years. Doctors had placed stents twice near his heart to open up blood flow. But those were only band-aids, his doctor said.
 
Guenther was overweight, smoked, loved to drink beer. He gave up his passion for golf last summer when he was too exhausted to walk more than 10 or 15 steps. But even missing out on golf wasn’t enough to get him to a doctor.
 
That all changed in January 2021. Guenther’s employer, Regal Mold and Die, was offering its annual employee health screening through Get Fit Get Healthy. Dodi McLemore, Guenther’s companion of 10 years, encouraged him to go in and get screened.
 
"They took my blood pressure four or five times," Guenther said. "That's when I knew I was in trouble."
 
His blood pressure registered dangerously high – 220/180. Guenther needed to get to an Emergency Department immediately, the healthcare team said.
 
Doctors admitted Guenther to the hospital, performed quadruple bypass surgery and implanted a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat. Guenther also found out he had Type 2 diabetes and needed daily insulin shots.
 
"I'm not afraid to die, but this really scared me," he said. "It was a reality check.”
 
Today, Guenther has quit smoking, lost weight, changed his eating habits and checks his blood glucose levels regularly. He feels better every day and is on track to regain the life he used to enjoy, including that next round of golf.
 
"I feel like a changed person," he said. "I can breathe now. I don't wake up in a sweat."
 
Now Guenther wants to tell others, "Don't ignore your health or think warning signs will go away. Do it for the people who love you."
 
In addition to screenings, Get Fit Get Healthy offers wellness coaching; health challenges to motivate employees; and education on meal prep, goal setting, quitting smoking and managing stress (to name a few). The program is aimed at creating healthier lifestyles to help prevent or better manage existing health conditions.
 
"Get Fit Get Healthy saved my life," he said.