Steve Sanchez was stabbed 4 times in the heart, diaphragm and back. It was last December, and I remember hearing about it on TV. They said a La Quinta resident had tried to help a friend being accosted by two men. I always wondered what happened to this local hero – until recently, when I had the pleasure of meeting Steve. His is an incredible story of health, strength of character, and positive mentality —and a natural for “Health Is a Choice.”
Steve came to California in 1996 by way of the Marine Corps. He was stationed at 29 Palms and then Camp Pendleton, and in 2003 served a tour of duty in Iraq. Upon leaving the military, Steve decided to stay in the Coachella Valley for the ‘weather you can’t beat.’
He always considered himself healthy, but since leaving the Marines, had let himself go. His blood pressure was high and his diet could use improvement. Seeking guidance, Steve turned to Drs. Ortiz and Fung of the Live Well Clinic. “I didn’t know what I needed,” he said, “but I have always been attracted to natural options.” It wasn’t long before the healthy diet and exercise program they prescribed became a lifestyle. He lost 60 lbs within 6 months, significantly decreased his body fat and increased endurance. He went from 260 to 200 pounds and felt better than he ever had in this life. “I still ate a lot of food, but I made healthier choices.”
Two years later, Steve was in Los Angeles when his friend was accosted. “I stepped in to help him and was stabbed in the left ventricle of my heart. My diaphragm was torn and my intestines went into my chest. I immediately started losing a lot of blood.”
His Marine Corps training instantly kicked in. “I knew to elevate my legs and how to control my breathing. Not to work my heart or lungs too much. I had my friend apply pressure until the paramedics arrived. I remember arriving at the OR before I passed out.”
Steve was in serious danger of losing his life. The survival rate of people stabbed in the heart is less than 10%. He woke up a few days later and the doctors told him that if he wasn’t in such good physical shape, he would have died. “I know my lifestyle saved my life. The surgeon even said, ‘if that were me, I wouldn’t have made it.’”
Doctors told Steve it would be 6 or 7 months before he could regain his active lifestyle. He took that on as a challenge. Traditional medicine like morphine was required for pain and recovery, but under Dr. Ortiz’ guidance, he pursued natural options.
“One month post surgery, I started walking. I walked a block and was exhausted. But each day I did a little more. In February, I started running and 6 months later, I ran a 5k race. In September, I’m scheduled to run my first half marathon since the stabbing.”
“We are so proud of Steve,” says Dr. Ortiz, “Two years before he suffered his unfortunate injuries, he began a transformation and dedicated himself to learning how to eat for health and fuel his body with nutrition. He began a regimen of running and resistance training. His energy and attitude were unstoppable and Steve continued making his lifestyle changes permanent, without knowing that his improved physical condition would one day help save his life.”
Dr. Ortiz adds, “During Steve’s recovery, we administered IV tissue healing therapy, a lot of vitamins and strict rehab workouts at Kinetix Health and Performance Center in Palm Desert. He was off pain medication just 10 days post surgery.”
At his three month follow up, an EKG, stress test, and images revealed that his heart had completely repaired itself. The cardiologist told him that his heart ‘looked brand new.’
“Great surgeons saved my life, but even they recognized that I survived the incident because of my healthy lifestyle.”
Steve is an active member of the community and is a board member for the Indio and La Quinta Chambers of Commerce. He is grateful every day for his life and life choices.
Dr. Ortiz concludes, “Steve emerged with greater strength and determination to conquer whatever life challenges come his way. We are proud to call him a patient and a friend.”