‘I found happiness again’
Roy had always enjoyed his job as a porter – and often worked 16 hours a day. The day before tragedy struck he had walked up twelve flights of stairs and felt completely fine. But the next day, when Roy was at home, he suddenly could not even walk down the stairs in his own home. His diagnosis: severe cardiac arrhythmias as well as a heart muscle abnormality.
Severe arrhythmias and an abnormal heart muscle
"When my family doctor sent me to the emergency department there was a cardiologist at the hospital who examined me and said, ‘You’ll never work again.’ I thought he was crazy. Unfortunately, he was right," says Roy. Overnight, he felt like an 85-year old man. Fortunately, six years later things are better, but the Limburger is physically quite weak. "I get out of breath even if I go for a short walk or do light exercise."
Facing his fears and following his heart
With Roy’s condition, he can live until he is 100 years old in principle but his health will never get better. Because of the fatigue and distress, Roy had lived in fear for half a year, afraid that he was experiencing everything for the last time. Then one day, Roy decided he needed to change his perspective.
"Being afraid doesn’t help the situation. I looked at the big picture, and my three children. How will they remember me? I didn’t want them to remember me as someone who always sits on the couch. Since then I have followed my heart."
Ciro’s treatment plan
"In 2012 I went to Ciro and got an early assessment. For three days I underwent a wide variety of tests. My personal goals were not about walking or biking again… I just wanted to take care of my children. Everything had happened so suddenly when my youngest was only seven months old." After the initial assessment, the Ciro specialists sat with Roy and they decided he could rehabilitate closer to home at Maastricht UMC +, one of our Ciro partners.
Roy started an eight week schedule, going for rehabilitation three times a week from 08:45 to 11:30 am. The following eight weeks he followed a tailor-made plan twice a week. "I had very good coaching, which is made to suit you the best." In addition to strengthening and training tailored to his capabilities, Roy greatly benefited from his conversations with the therapist about time management as well as the dietician’s advice. "I thought we followed a good diet already but it was disappointing. I was eating too much salt. We now also drink water instead of soda."
Roy achieved the result he wanted — to provide for his children again. He also managed to go from driving just half an hour to two hours. In short, Roy had recovered much of his mobility!
Roy and his wife also wanted to lose weight and started taking a workout programme together once he finished his Ciro treatment. He also continues to get nutrition counselling. All the setbacks now seem to be behind him and as Roy is happy to pick up where he left off before he got sick.
Renewed happiness: Labradoodles
Although heart disease has made a big impact on Roy’s life, now he sees things in a more positive light and enjoys renewed happiness. "I see my children more often now, and I help out more in the home but sometimes I can’t do things because of my condition. I would never have noticed this before."
In addition, the Limburger has found his passion in his wife Monique’s labradoodle breeding business. Some of the dogs are used as a service dogs for children with Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD or autism, for example. "Labradoodles approach people in a very calm way that makes them want to hug them and give them a lot of attention. In addition, 95 of the 100 people who are allergic to dogs can tolerate this breed," says Roy.
Now Roy has seven labradoodles at home and 20 of his dogs stay with host families who provide the animals with all the love they need. These labradoodles are used for breeding. "At eight weeks, the bred puppies leave the nest here in Maastricht. But before they go, they are tested to make sure they have the right temperament to qualify as a service dog."
The labradoodles Roy and Monique have come from all over the world; Canada, Australia, England and America. This is to make sure they are breeding healthy and strong dogs. "We are dedicated to planning the breeding programme to make sure everything goes smoothly." And it’s going very well, as proven by the nine month waiting list for people who want a Labradoodle.