This article is kind of dirty, but ONLY because it involves massive amounts of Mud. But first, we flash back to 2008.
At that time, Cypress Creek EMS Field Supervisor and Paramedic Joe Kiff was within striking distance of 300 pounds. But, a sudden and serious heart issue struck first. He felt a rapid fluttering in his chest and just didn’t feel good. He was on duty at the time, so he went out to the ambulance and hooked himself up to the 12-lead electrocardiogram. The ECG, also known as an EKG, showed a rapid and irregular heartbeat. He called his supervisor, said he didn’t feel well and asked for someone to finish his shift. When he replacement arrived, he drove himself to Houston Northwest Medical Center.
Cypress Creek EMS Medical Director Dr. Levon Vartanian was on duty in the ER.
Kiff showed him the EKG. Dr. Vartanian looked at it and asked him, “Whose is this?” and Joe said, “That’s mine.” Dr. Vartanian replied, “Go in there and sit down.” The hospital staff did another EKG, a stress test, blood work and took a blood pressure reading.
Then, they found a shadow on his ultrasound and decided to rush him to the heart catherization lab. After snaking the cath to his heart, no blockage was found. But, other tests showed high cholesterol, very high blood pressure and he was obviously overweight. Joe puts in this way, “I weighed so much, my heart was essentially beating for two folks.”
Here is the obligatory before and after picture. By the way, Joe didn’t have any BEFORE pictures because he avoided cameras like the plague. But he did appear in a Cypress Creek EMS Video about eight years ago, so we pulled an image from that.
The next day he went on a strict diet. Two of his meals each day consisted of shredded wheat cereal. The third was a normal meal. He knew he also needed to exercise, but he wanted to get his weight under 250 first so he wouldn’t put too much stress on his knees and other joints.
He vowed to run a 5K before he was 40 years old. Since he found running to be a bit boring, he entered a 5K Warrior Dash which included an obstacle course and (here comes the dirty part) MUD.
He was hooked. He entered more extreme sports events with his fellow Paramedic, Ryan Jones, and his neighbor, Mike Degiel. The three started competing as the “Muddy Medics” and in 2014 they officially became the Cypress Creek Muddy Medics. Now, they participate in as many as 2 events a month.
Joe got his weight down to 228 and maintains his weight now at around 235. Since Joe was adding muscle and he was losing fat, his result is even more dramatic because muscle is more dense and weighs more than fat. A pound of fat takes up about four times the space of a pound of muscle tissue.
These days Joe feels much better, has more energy and no longer has issues with shortness of breath. He says the most important part is that he now has the energy to be more active with his family. Joe says it’s important for him to do things with his kids and “remain fun.” Plus, a healthier Joe will be around longer for his wife Louanna and their children; Shelby, 18; Hunter, 13 and Dasha, 7. Joe’s son Hunter has also competed with the Muddy Medic Team.
He says the funny thing is that since he got rotund (nice way of saying fat) gradually, he didn’t notice how bad his health has gotten until he got healthy. Joe has an old story he says is a good analogy, “If you throw a frog in a pot of hot water the frog is going to jump out. But, if you throw a frog into a room temperature pot of water and turn up the heat slowly the frog will gradually adjust up until the point he dies.”
Now, Joe spends many of his weekends in the environment of the frog which brings us back full circle to…..MUD. And, there you have the story of the Paramedic who got dirty to get healthy.