Strength of Heart

Calvin Jackson

Calvin Jackson and Joyce, his wife of 33 years, were enjoying a day at Coney Island with some friends when suddenly Calvin passed out head first on the boardwalk.

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics checked Calvin’s vitals and sugar levels – since he is a diabetic. They determined that he was okay and he just needed to get something to eat. However, Joyce insisted that Calvin go to the hospital, so she drove from Coney Island to Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) in Livingston, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. After a series of tests, it was determined that Calvin needed a quadruple bypass.

“I was completely shocked and surprised,” says Calvin, 64, of Irvington. “Aside from being a diabetic, I thought I was completely healthy. My weight was right, and I exercised.

After Calvin had the surgery, he began his road to recovery with the help of SBMC’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.

“I push myself through every workout – if they tell me to do 10 reps, I do 12 – and now I feel stronger than ever,” says Calvin. “The program is top-notch, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with a heart issue.”

In conjunction with his new workout, Calvin met with a dietician to create a healthy meal plan. His initial diet of barbecue, fried fish and other high-cholesterol foods has transformed into a diet consisting of salad, raw vegetables, baked fish and whole grains.

“Eating healthy and going to cardiac rehab has given me a whole new life. Now, I can do 20 minutes on the workout machines and can lift up to 30 pounds with weights,” says Calvin. “I’m glad to still be here, especially since I have a new grandson – I want to be around for him.”