The Waco Winter Project, the first story, from the heart.
"After my heart surgery, I woke up in the ICU on a ventilator, with a tube in my throat, several tubes coming in and out of my body. I felt tears on my cheeks from the pain and frustration. I was disappointed in myself. I knew I had done this to myself; I had made choices that resulted in me being fat. I didn't want to eat for the next week, as I didn't want this to ever happen again, until they reminded and convinced me I had to eat healthy to heal from the surgery. People who struggle with weight always look for a way to get in the zone... a place where they simply make the right choice that results in weight loss. I have known people who could never quit smoking until their loved one died of lung cancer. Then they simply threw their cigarettes away and had no more desire. After that memory of how being on that ventilator was a result of my choices – when I have a choice of what to eat, when I think about eating chips and dip or seconds or sweets, it's easy to choose to eat healthy and less."
Dr. Timothy Martindale
When I came to the conclusion that, yes, I will do this project, I kept hearing a name pop in my mind to interview first. I shut that down rather quickly with no, no he wouldn't do that, no I'm not asking him. It was a battle in my mind. Then one day I was in his office and the next thing I know I've asked him if I could talk with him about this project I'm working on. Just like that, and he said YES! Soon after, I found myself sitting in his living room visiting with him and his wife. It brought back memories of 20 years ago when I was a confused teenager trying to heal myself from a less than perfect childhood and found myself in a tiny office in Lorena where I first met Dr. Martindale. The years have passed quickly, and I would have never imagined that I'd be sitting in his living room as he told me his life story.
It almost didn't seem right as he's always been the one to listen to me. His story is inspiring. So inspiring in fact, that when I left his home I vowed to myself that 2018 would be a year to serve others. He told me of his childhood, of being a minister’s son living in an old house in the not-so-good part of town, taking in the homeless and traveling missionaries. Of being inspired to go into medicine by one traveling missionary doctor who stayed with his family a short time. As a teen, he could almost quote the entire bible and his mission was to tell others about God. He traveled to Mexico for missionary work and was touched by the many in need. His desire to one day serve others through medicine grew even stronger. In his 20s, he became a pastor. Although the pull to become a doctor was still there, he continued ministering in other ways. At the age of 35, that pull was irresistible and God led him to become a family medical doctor.
His goal throughout life has been to serve others. Hearing him talk, it was quite evident that his whole heart was in his work and service. Through his life, he has published articles, won awards, served on boards, and is highly looked up to academically, medically, and spiritually. I could write many things about the interview and the inspiring person he is. But the one thing that sticks out the most is one that is relatable to many of us. It's something many in the professional world sometimes look down on. It's the struggle of weight loss and overcoming it. I think it touched me more because I, like many people, look up to my doctor. He is highly educated, serves God, is looked up to in society. Basically, he would be the definition of hashtag goals, to use an internet term. He's succeeded at this thing called life. Yet, hearing him talk about his struggle with weight reminds me again that we are all human.
In July 2017, Dr. Martindale suffered a massive heart attack. It was attributed to stress and being overweight. I asked him if it's been hard to lose weight. The look in his eyes was one of determination to make a change. His lips seemed to quiver when he told me of lying on the table, the pain, the disappointment. He told of the extra days of being on a vent in the ICU. He felt he was there longer than he should have been – because he was overweight. At that moment he was so determined to lose weight that he didn't want to eat.
Since his heart surgery in July he has lost 50 pounds through diet and exercise. Even during the holidays, he said no to all the comfort food as he was reminded of that scary day in July when he woke up on the ICU table.
The Waco Winter Project is an effort to inspire through little glimpses into the lives of our neighbors. I will not always know the person and will not always share a name, face, or write as much as I have today. This is the beginning of a journey led by my heart. Thank you for following on the first day of becoming the Waco Storyteller.