Michael Beavers does not plan to grow up. He routinely plays with remote-controlled cars, drives scooters in the country, and strings Christmas lights on his roof during the holidays despite his wife’s protests. To make others smile, he also tells “dad” jokes to cashiers and members of his church.
However, Michael’s life changed unexpectedly a few years ago when he felt pain in his side after wrestling with his grandchildren. When the pain traveled from his side to his chest the Beavers rushed to Sarah Bush Lincoln where an X-ray revealed that he had blood clots, despite having no history of smoking or a family history of blockages. Cardiologist Michael LaMonto, DO, put Michael on blood thinners to diminish the blood clots. Dr. LaMonto continued to monitor Michael’s cholesterol to ensure he remained healthy.
Following the heart complications, Michael was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. His future flashed before him – one in which he wasn’t a part of his grandchildren’s lives. Right then, he decided to make healthy lifestyle changes, recommended to him by his family practitioner.
“My mind instantly shifted once I had that goal in mind. But I did not make the changes by myself. I had incredible support from God, my wife, Brenda, and my wonderful doctors,” Michael said.
To keep his diabetes under control, Michael would need to eat well, exercise and take medication prescribed by his doctor. The 71-year-old took the advice to heart and immediately cut junk food from his diet, which was no easy feat due to his lifelong habits.
“I would hear him go to the kitchen and eat all of the junk food when I went to bed,” Brenda recalled.
Michael also trained at the SBL Center for Healthy Living through the medical exercise program, where he and Brenda learned to eat healthfully and properly lift weights. They developed a friendship with their trainer, something that made working out more fun and consistent.
“When I see my doctor, he praises me and tells me what I did was hard and not everyone sticks with it like I did. You can go on any diet in the world, but you have to have that willpower and support system. The doctors at Sarah Bush Lincoln helped me immensely in treating and encouraging me,” Michael said.
Michael developed a zeal for walking around his community. At first, he struggled through his daily walks due to his unhealthy lifestyle and arthritis in his left ankle. But as he consistently followed his plan, he quickly saw results. When his weight loss began to show, friends at church complimented him by asking, “Where’s the rest of you?” Michael had lost 55 lbs in six months!
“I have to have my earbuds and Spotify,” Michael said of his walking routine. “I love my oldies, rock and gospel music. It makes me feel good, and I get relaxing time by myself,”
He now walks every day except Sunday. Over time, he has cut his walk time in half, while doubling his distance. He completes a long loop in south Mattoon and makes sure to greet his barber when he passes her shop. His arthritis and psoriasis disappeared, along with four inches around his waist. By eating well and staying active, he no longer needs his heartburn and decreased his blood pressure medication intake by 75 percent.
Thanks to the treatment Michael received at the hands of Sarah Bush Lincoln doctors and staff, he has more energy to do the things he loves, including gardening, riding motorcycles and helping volunteer at the Family Worship Center in Mattoon. For the past nine years, Michael has stood in the back during every service to take attendance, organize the ushers and get water for the pastors if they need it. He is able to play with his grandchildren and not feel winded. The best thing for him, though, is the profound joy he feels.
“I forgot how many extra times your heart beats when you’re overweight. Now, I feel like I could just walk forever. Getting healthy has changed my outlook on life. I’m just a guy who likes to be positive and make people smile. I am so grateful for everyone who got me here,” Michael said.
For more information about the SBL Heart Center, call 217 238-4960. For more information about the Center for Healthy Living, call 217 238-3488.