Life: It's About the Ride! Nick Weber

 

At age 22, Nick Weber had what his doctors called a “spontaneous coronary artery dissection”, or in layman terms, a heart attack. It happened near four-months ago while the avid cyclist was executing a training ride- a race simulation-, when he noticed the muscles in his throat became very soar, both of his shoulders went numb, his left arm felt like it was broken, and his sternum “felt like an 18-wheeler was going over it.” As a senior pre-med major, he knew not to panic, rather, he calmly went, and walked himself into the hospital. His doctors were astounded when they learned what was wrong; he had just become the youngest person in medical history, to have had this kind of heart attack.

Nick always ate healthy, rode his bike 2-3 hours a day- he even has a 4.0 in school; there were neither signs nor reason for why this should have happened to him. It’s a medical mystery that has created such a frenzy in cardiovascular medical studies, he now finds himself immersed, the center of interest, in the world he was studying to be a part of. He never imagined, however, that he would be the patient- not the doctor.

After his surgery, Nick spent most of the summer re-teaching himself how to walk, and slowly he found his energy again. He never lost the energy to keep going, however- to never stop fighting for his health, and his future. “Yes. It was scary,” he related to me, “ I went from cycling 2-3 hours a day to not being able to lift my back-pack.” Yet, throughout the interview he kept telling me, “Things don’t always go the way you plan. There are so many people who would just say, Oh, you’ve just had a heart attack, and -my dad also recently died- you should take a break and drop-out of school this semester. This really put me at a crossroads, where I had only two choices: to give up, or press on. ”

Nick decided to take the latter, inspiring everyone around him so much that researchers at Baylor Hospital are planning to write a book on him, detailing the perplexity of his heart attack, and his incredible attitude the whole way through. The idea has even caught the eye of the Oprah Winfrey Network, and has plans to put the book on the Oprah reading-list, after it’s published. You can’t get bigger than Oprah, but since the incident he has also been interviewed over 15 times by people, including writers from the Wall-Street Journal, and our own Daily Texan.

When asked why he kept such a positive attitude throughout this whole experience, Nick replied, “I’ve never looked at things like oh, I’m tired, I’m going to stop now. My dad inspired me. He was a naval fighter pilot in WWII, and he taught me that you have to keep going, you can’t stop, you can’t sit down, because you’re not living  just for yourself but for others, too. My dad would have wanted me to be strong, and have a positive attitude.”

Today Nick is healthy and back in school taking seventeen- hours, working at the Scottish Rite Dorm, and is back on the bike, remembering what his father said about “you’re not living for yourself, but for others, too.” Nick is also now making time travelling, giving presentations and inspirational talks to cardiac groups and hospital patients- and may soon be working with Livestrong!

Recently he was rewarded by Shimano, a multi-billion dollar company for cycling components, with riding-gear and their top-model bike, which is used by cyclists who race in the Tour de France. Not only that, but they are helping him ride his way back to success, by sponsoring him individually. This Nick said, is an honor; the company only sponsors about 5 or 6 individuals, currently.

With his hot new gear, Nick is now inline to train with Velossimo, the number-one cycling group for Susan G. Komen. “It sucked, but so many positives have come out of this experience,” he said. Including being able to relate to his future patients. Nick confided that he wanted to get into medicine because his dad had heart disease -unrelated to his heart attack-, and after spending so much time in hospitals he was amazed by the proficiency of the doctors. After graduating this May, Nick hopes to go to Harvard Medical School, where he wants to train as a cosmetic surgeon- specifically training in facial reconstruction so he can help wounded soldiers reclaim their lives.

“This has helped define why I really love medicine,” he said. “ And now I know what it’s like to go through something. I want to help people realize that life goes on. You have to make it what you want. Life: it’s about the ride.”