Can you imagine suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, obesity, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder? The perseverance and courage to work through and recover from such a heavy load of problems is beyond admirable. “I’m a miracle!” exclaimed Gavin Herbst, who just celebrated his 43rd birthday, as he shared his testimonial of the journey he’s travelled over the past two years. “I came to Alliance about two years ago because I had major issues and no insurance. My wife is a teacher and we can’t afford a policy for me. I’m a full time student at Wake Tech in the Criminal Justice program. I had no resources to take care of myself,” started Gavin. He needed comprehensive care - regular check ups, a disease management plan, a weight loss plan and mental health services. “I was extremely obese. I had a variety of conditions. I used an inhaler on a regular basis. I was a heavy smoker. I didn’t eat healthy. After a mental health crisis, I ended up in Holly Hill Hospital. Upon discharge, Wake County Rural Health referred me to Alliance.”
Once Gavin became a patient of Dr. Watson at Alliance, he started to make gradual improvement. “I kept making him promises. He’s certainly an awesome doctor. I was able to begin changing because of him, and I’m so thankful for him.” Some of Dr. Watson’s instructions were to develop an exercise routine. Gavin was keeping his promise on March 13th, 2012, when he was working out at the Y with a friend. He suffered a pulmonary embolism not long after they began. In the time before the ambulance arrived, his heart stopped beating. His companion performed CPR while a small group of people formed and began praying. “I truly believe they saved my life,” Gavin declared. During the ambulance ride, Gavin flatlined SIX TIMES. “On the last time, I saw Jesus Christ and he spoke to me. He said: ‘Blessed be you who sees with his eyes for there are many before you that wish that they could see what you see now. Blessed be he who sees not with his eyes but believes through faith for he will be greatly rewarded in Heaven. Why have you forsaken me?’ Then he took my hand and he put it in his side where the Romans had stabbed him. He continued, ‘I’ve come to give you life, not by my will, but by the will of my Father who has sent me to you that you may have life and may have it abundantly. Go back and forsake me no more.’ I saw beautiful lights in colors I’d never even seen before and felt this amazing, powerful healing come over me. I was saved.”
After he was admitted into ICU, the doctors gave Gavin a 10% chance of survival. They called his wife to stay by his side, giving him no more than 3 days to live. But Gavin pulled through. “He kept me here for a reason. God has a bigger plan for me!” After suffering a seizure, being diagnosed with pneumonia and having experienced six cardiac arrests, he defied all the odds. He stayed in the hospital for 48 days before his release, and committed to the instruction he had received in the ambulance.
“I was 320 lbs at the time. Now I weigh 258 lbs. I’m on a diet of 1500-2000 calories per day and a max of 1500 g of sodium. I’ve stopped smoking altogether. I can run 2.5 miles. I’ve become a Christian. I’ve made sacrifices for my new lifestyle. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I’m tempted to pick up a cigarette or eat fried chicken, but I’m not prepared to go back down that road. I’ve made such remarkable progress. I can’t turn back,” Gavin declared.
“Alliance has been absolutely fantastic for my recovery!” Gavin receives guidance and support, can get his medications, is held accountable, and is educated on his health and lifestyle choices. He loves and appreciates his providers, giving big hugs to Dr. Jackie Hicks and Robin Schroeder, RN, as he shared his story. “Robin has been there through a lot of this. She’s one of my heros!” he exclaimed. “You’re one of our heros!” Robin replied. He is invested in his health and has truly become such a success, even asking Dr. Hicks health-related questions when he stopped in for our visit. “If you don’t follow the doctor’s instructions, you’re wasting their time and yours. Your health is one of the greatest assets you can have! That and your love for Him.” His outlook change and his strict attitude towards making the necessary changes to become healthy have truly propelled him. “I’ve learned to never give up. Life is precious. You really don’t realize how quickly it can be taken away. We have to take full use of all the things we have, both physically and spiritually.” We are so pleased that Gavin is doing just that. He's kept up a 3.7 GPA and is a member of two different honor societies. His goals are to remain an active member at Journey Church, continue improving his health and help kids by becoming a juvenile parole officer once he finishes school. We are absolutely honored to be a part of his amazing journey by helping him transfer his health!