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Acampo man grateful to be alive after heart failure

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Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:37 am, Tue Nov 27, 2012.

Mike Swartz was sitting on his sofa at about 12:30 a.m. in early June when, suddenly, he couldn't breathe and fell to the floor.

His mother, Edie, was in bed, but Swartz was able to crawl to her room and knock on the door.

"It was like an elephant was sitting on me," said Swartz, 50. "I was so dizzy from not breathing."

Swartz was taken to Lodi Memorial Hospital.

"I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure," Swartz recalls. "The doctors said to me, 'You're not going anywhere; you've got serious heart problems.'"

He says he still only has 20 percent of his heart working, but he's thankful to be alive.

"It was very hard; we were very upset," his mother said. "The doctor said it was a miracle he came out of it."

Swartz said he's also grateful that his two sons, Mike and Brandon Swartz, both of whom live in Lodi, took his vital signs hourly.

Born at San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp, Swartz lived on Live Oak Road for several years before moving to eastern Acampo in 1969. He rebuilt transmissions and operated a care home for six years. Since 2001, he's done tree work.

Though he didn't remember anything for nine days due to the medication he was given, Swartz was told by his sons and parents that he seemed to be going crazy trying to escape. After the medication wore off, Swartz said he disappeared from his room for a half-hour.

"A nurse found me in an elevator doing push-ups," he said.

Swartz is concerned that heart problems might be a family trait. His cousin, Chad McDonald, 36, also had heart issues this year. He was recently released from Lodi Memorial Hospital, Swartz said.

"Being here today, that's what I am thankful for — being here today to tell my story," he said.

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