Bishop Stika back in Knoxville, continues heart attack recovery

Bishop Stika back in Knoxville, continues heart attack recovery

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"Three days later I was doing laps in the intensive care unit. I was racing, I think, a 95-year-old man. I think it was neck and neck there for a while but I think I defeated him," Bishop Richard Stika said. "Three days later I was doing laps in the intensive care unit. I was racing, I think, a 95-year-old man. I think it was neck and neck there for a while but I think I defeated him," Bishop Richard Stika said.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Bishop Richard F. Stika, who heads the Diocese of Knoxville, is back in Knoxville after amazing doctors in Florida with his rapid recovery from a mild heart attack.

The bishop was released from Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, August 21 and returned to Knoxville the next day.

Bishop Stika was admitted to an emergency room on Sunday, Aug. 16, in cardiogenic shock. He had become ill with flu-like symptoms and diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that can occur in people with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is often triggered by an infection, such as a bladder or chest infection. It can develop from a matter of hours to a few days, but it usually comes on very quickly.

The bishop had a mild heart attack due to his high sugar level.

Bishop Stika was kept in the cardiovascular intensive care unit during the week as he amazed doctors and nurses with his rapid recovery. When someone is diabetic, even a simple illness can rapidly become very serious.

Before he became ill, he was taking part in a Spanish language immersion program in San Antonio, Texas. 

Over a break the weekend of August 15-16, Bishop Stika flew to Fort Lauderdale to visit Archbishop Francis Mansour Zayek, a friend who was soon going back to his home in Lebanon.

"Then I woke up the one morning and throughout the day I continued to vomit and vomit and it just began to spiral downward. And then all of a sudden, I experienced some chest pains and so I made a phone call to the hotel lobby and I said I think I am having a heart attack," the bishop said Monday morning at a press conference.

He said he was on life support for about a day-and-a-half, but he bounced back fast.

"Three days later I was doing laps in the intensive care unit. I was racing, I think, a 95-year-old man. I think it was neck and neck there for a while but I think I defeated him," Bishop Stika said.

Over the next few week, Bishop Stika said he'll take it easy and focus on working out and eating right. "You know, they always say men don't ask for help or whatever. Well thank God I did. Thank God I did."

"The bishop is deeply grateful to the great doctors, nurses and staff of Holy Cross Hospital for their lifesaving work. He also wants to thank the thousands of people who prayed for him during his hospitalization. They have been a critical part of his remarkable recovery," the diocese said in a press release.

The bishop is recovering well, but he does have impaired vision in his right eye.

On Wednesday, Bishop Stika will travel to Vanderbilt Hospital to meet with two internationally renowned eye specialists.

He said he'll challenge members of his flock to eat right and loose extra pounds in the pursuit of healthier lifestyles.

6 News Anchor/Reporter Tearsa Smith contributed to this report.

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