Neighbor: Bill King walks for the sake of a healthy heart
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2002
Bill King’s left leg had gone stiff on him and he knew he had better see a doctor.
That decision probably saved his life.
"That was in 1983," King said. "The doctors gave me all kinds of tests. They thought my potassium might be low and several other things but nothing showed up. But, when I got on the treadmill, they stopped me. They said it wouldn’t be good for me to keep going."
Tests the next day revealed three and maybe four clogged arteries and King was scheduled for by-pass surgery.
"I did real good for having heart surgery and came home and kept doing good," King said. "But, one day I was listening to the radio and heard a so-called expert talking about the health and lifespan of people who had undergone by-pass surgery. He gave figures that shocked me. From what he said, I needed to be in a rehab program and he was starting one in the fall. I knew if I wanted to keep living, I’d better do something."
King called the expert doctor and asked him if the figures he gave on the radio were correct.
"He told me they were and I told him I wanted to get in his rehab program," King said. "That was the beginning of April and he told me I didn’t need to wait until the fall. I knew by that he wasn’t trying to sell his wares so I knew
I needed to get in a rehab program right then and I got in one at UAB."
The program required the participants to exercise with monitors attached to them and under the watchful eyes of technicians.
"We exercised in the gym for a while, then we graduated to a big gym and they told us to run," King said, with a chuckle. "I told them I’d never run in my life and they said, ‘Well, you are now!’ and I did."
a short time, King was walking three miles a day, three times a week, swimming and playing water basketball and working out on a variety of machines.
"I got in the best physical condition of my life," King said. "I could jog three miles and jog it very easy."
In 1985, King visited his son who was in the military and serving in Alaska.
"He told me he had entered us in a 10K run – that’s 6.2 miles – but we could stop after three miles," King said. "When we got
to the three mile mark, I felt good, so we kept on running and finished the run in a little over an hour. I’ve never been so proud of myself in my life."
King retired 11 years ago and moved back home to the family farm just off the Luverne Highway. His doctor advised him not to jog anymore because he couldn’t be closely monitored.
"He said I could walk at a fast pace, so that’s what I did," King said. "For the last 11 years, Robert Floyd and I have been getting up at 5:45 – and that’s early for retired folks – and walking two miles. Two miles a day for 11 years – that’s a lot of miles – about 8,000 miles. But, I enjoy every minute of it."
In addition to exercising on a daily basis, King has changed his eating habits.
"My wife, Dot, has studied up on what’s good for you and what’s not," he said. "I eat a lot of baked and boiled chicken and don’t eat bacon and sausage. I drink skim milk and eat a lot of vegetables. I try to eat right and exercise. I do everything I can to stay healthy."
Even though King had led a very healthy lifestyle since by-pass surgery in 1983, his "gene" caught up with him in 1999.
"My arteries started to clog up again, so I had to go back for more surgery," King said. "I told my druggist I didn’t know what I could have done any better and he said, ‘get better parents.’ My mother and daddy both died with heart attacks. My brothers and sister are like me. They are blessed with cholesterol. But, really, I have been blessed to have had two heart surgeries and still feel so good. I have plenty of energy. I can go all day. That’s a blessing. Life’s a blessing and I want to keep going."