OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — For Central Florida couple Angel and Jayme Vazquez, walking means a lot — and it’s not just a healthy pastime.
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For them, it’s a reminder of a time when Angel couldn’t even walk a few steps.
"I remember grabbing one of the nurses and just looking at her and saying, 'I feel like I’m going to die,'" Angel said.
In June 2018, Angel found himself in the hospital suffering from a heart attack. Jayme was at work when her daughter called.
"Mom, dad is having a heart attack, and you need to get to the hospital," Jayme said.
Thankfully Angel’s triple bypass surgery at Osceola Regional Medical Center was a success.
But Angel’s heart surgeon Dr. Wade Fischer says what a patient does after surgery is just as important as the surgery itself.
"It’s critical starting from post op day one," Dr. Fischer said.
Fischer says patients just having undergone heart surgery need to get up and start moving as soon as they can.
"That helps decrease the incidents of pneumonias, it helps decrease the incidents of getting blood clots in the veins and the legs," Fischer said.
But after Angel’s surgery, the pain was so great he felt like he couldn’t move.
"You can’t shower yourself, you can’t use the restroom by yourself, you become helpless," Angel said.
But Jayme knew from the doctors how important it was for her husband to move, if he wanted to stay healthy long term.
"So I’d say, 'Come on Angel, let’s just walk to the front door, which is maybe 20 steps, and he was just like, 'No, I can’t, you can’t make me, I can’t do that right now' … so I'd say look at the girls, the girls are here if anything, do it for them. And slowly (but) surely he would get up and walk to the front door," Jayme said.
After making it to the front door, Angel then started walking around the house, then around the backyard, then they even started walking all over the theme parks as a family.
Angel was now taking thousands of steps a day, but he didn’t stop there.
"I was like I need something to kind of look towards, I need some kind of a goal to set so what we basically did was I decided I was going to sign up for a half marathon at Disney," Angel said.
Since then Angel was hooked. Just this year he’s completed 95 miles in registered races — not to mention all the miles it took him to train for those races.
"(I’m) just so proud of how far he could come, and to think it was seven months and a few days after the surgery," Jayme said.
But the Vazquez’s aren’t keeping his success to himself — they’re sharing his journey through Facebook and Instagram.
Angel says it’s inspiring some of his friends to get out and walk more, and go to their doctors regularly.
They’re even using hashtags like #WhatWouldAngelDo and #BecauseOfAngel.
Angel’s motto online is to "just walk."
And Dr. Fischer says any daily physical activity can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and other illnesses.