5 years ago, when he was 53, Rod Davis was walking home from his work at the Children’s Commissioner’s Office in Wellington and found he was getting slower and slower.
The same thing happened the next morning and he began to feel pains in his chest. When he finally arrived at work his colleagues could tell something was wrong and took him straight to hospital.
This may have saved his life. Rod had 4 blocked arteries and needed quadruple bypass surgery. It was 6 weeks before he was well enough to be back at work.
However, Rod’s negotiated hours of return to work made it impossible for him to attend the exercise classes he was told were an essential part of his recovery. His doctor offered him a green prescription but he felt very much on his own.
‘For me healthy choices also need to be easy choices,’ he says, ‘and visits to the gym just did not fit this philosophy.’
Then in 2013, Rod’s doctor told him he was pre-diabetic and that his cholesterol level was slowly creeping back up – even though he was on a very high dosage of cholesterol-reducing medication. Fred Lefaoseu, a parent at the school where Rod taught, told him about He Tama Wairua, He Tama Tinana and invited him along.
‘And so I began training with a group of men who all have family and personal reasons to make a change. It has been both a life changer and life saver.’
Rod says it’s a unique yet simple formula for healthy change that works for him on many levels: physically, socially and in terms of his whānau.
‘It’s an incredible support network and there’s a wide variety of training from excellent staff. We get medical checks, hear speakers who really know their stuff and it’s all served up on a large plate of humour. It’s community health at its most effective.’
Rod completed the programme and lost nearly 6 kg. He’s competed in a duathlon and a triathlon and daily exercise is now part of his life. He says he feels more energised and that maintaining his fitness levels has become a priority.
‘I have a new circle of friends, expert advice is just a phone call away and my GP is more than happy with my overall wellbeing.’
This story is part of Karori Medical Centre – Supporting patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.