Socrates “Soc” Mabry had just finished running on an outdoor track at a university in River Forest about five months ago when it started raining. He sent a text message to his wife telling her he had run for a mile, and got in his car to drive home.
Then he drove into a tree.
“I put the car in gear, blacked out, and went 200 feet into a tree,” Mabry said. “I didn’t have any major injuries – just a sprained wrist – but my car was totaled.”
A Chicago police detective, Mabry had experienced syncope, or fainting, a sudden, brief loss of consciousness and posture caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. The 44-year-old was transported to an Oak Park hospital where tests revealed nothing unusual. But his wife, Shawn, is a house director at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and insisted he be transferred there.
“They did a lot of tests but everything came back normal,” Mabry said.
Then Dr. Gregory Lewis, a cardiac electrophysiologist, ordered a stress test.
“I thought, ‘Why not?’ I had my running shoes on anyway,” Mabry recalled. “They noticed something that wasn’t right. Two days later, I was in the cath lab. One of my arteries was 100 percent clogged.”
Mabry had not experienced any other symptoms. Doctors told him that his body compensated by creating collateral circulation. In the cath lab, two stents were inserted to support the clogged artery.
A few weeks later, Mabry entered Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s outpatient cardiac rehab center where he met Mimi Helms, an exercise physiologist who served as his case manager. It turned out to be a wonderful match.
“I told Mimi, ‘I’m very coachable,’” Mabry recalled.
The two worked very closely together.
“Soc was super-motivated to get back to what he was doing,” Helms said. “He’s a young, fit person and it’s surprising that this happened to him.”
The 12-week program includes stretching and cardio exercises, light weight training, and patient education.
“He gradually did more and more, and after about eight weeks he told me he wanted to start running,” Helms said.
“I really wanted to get back to running,” Mabry said. “I love running – whether on the basketball court, outside, on the treadmill.”
Mabry’s team included Helms, nurses and his cardiologist. Lewis approved Mabry’s running on the treadmill, as long as his heart rate stayed under 170 beats per minute. Rehab patients wear heart monitors when they’re exercising.
“We put him on the treadmill for a half hour and alternated walking and running,” Helms said. “By the time his rehab was over, he was running for 25 minutes and walking for five minutes. He was an excellent patient.”
Mabry was motivated to take back his health.
“I went for it,” Mabry said. “I’m an old athlete. I play basketball, I run, I even play paintball. But my main thing was to get back to running.”
Cardiac rehab “was solid practice – a real workout – three days a week,” he said. “I did the bike, the treadmill, weights and even the step machine.”
Mabry also lost weight. He entered rehab at about 237 pounds and left at 223 pounds, without making major changes in his diet.
“I eat more yogurt and I use ground turkey a lot, and I love salads without dressing,” Mabry said.
Mabry and his wife have a blended family of five children, one in college, two in high school and two in grade school. He plans to return to work at the police department in November. Meanwhile, he’s running at his track and he intends to keep active.
“I’m trying to get a paintball group together,” he said.