Pimp My Rice owner selling food truck after heart attacks, surgeries

Winnipeg restaurateur Roddy Seradilla has a warning for anyone who thinks they are too busy to worry about their health.

Restaurateur Roddy Seradilla says busy lifestyle led him to neglect his health

Roddy Seradilla says he's selling his Pimp My Rice food truck after suffering 2 heart attacks in early November. (Robin Summerfield/CBC)

Winnipeg restaurateur Roddy Seradilla has a warning for anyone who thinks they are too busy to worry about their health.

A 43-year-old father of two, Seradilla is well known in the Winnipeg food scene, spending years working at Bar Italia on Corydon Avenue before starting his own food truck called Pimp My Rice. In 2015, he opened Filipino restaurant Bisita.

He was already experiencing burnout and had decided to sell his restaurant, but now Seradilla is also selling his food truck in order to take some time to focus on himself after suffering two heart attacks in early November.

"Right now, I need to relinquish a lot of these things just to kind of get my life straight," he said in an interview with CBC's Information Radio.

Like many people in the restaurant industry, Seradilla lived his life on the go. His high blood pressure and fluctuating issues with cholesterol were pushed to the back of his mind, and he wasn't consistent in taking some medications.

Around 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, he had rushed through eating dinner at his mother-in-law's house because he was late getting to his restaurant. As he was driving, he started feeling pain in his chest, and pulled over. He started sweating, but after 15 minutes, it subsided and he continued on to work.

He asked one of his chefs, who had suffered a heart attack some years before, what symptoms he experienced. They didn't match up with what Seradilla had just experienced, so after a Google search, he believed it had simply been heartburn and continued working.

The symptoms returned around 9 p.m., but again, they subsided and he continued working. The last incident came around 1 a.m., when Seradilla was asleep.

"It felt like someone poured liquid cement into my lungs. I got tight, I got heavy, and my wife raced me off to HSC," he said.

No time to be sick

Doctors told Seradilla he'd had two heart attacks and needed surgery to fix three blocked arteries. Seradilla says his first reaction was that he didn't have time for heart surgery.

"I couldn't possibly be laid up for two months, let alone three. That was just impossible," he said. "Sometimes you just get consumed with whatever it is that you're doing."

Seradilla says he, like many people in the restaurant and hospitality industry, became so focused on his business that he neglected his health.

"I would always think, well I'm on my feet all day, in the kitchen and I'm always running to here, there and everywhere so that must be exercise, right? I don't eat very much because you're always on the go, so I'm not obese, that's not the problem," he said.

Seradilla says he was a smoker for many years, something he says is common in his industry, and heart disease runs in his family. "[The doctors] basically said I had a 65-year-old heart in a 42-year-old body."

Bisita had been struggling and Seradilla had been working 12-hour days while trying to look after his family, so he had planned on selling the business. Although he's selling the Pimp My Rice truck, he's keeping the name and hopes one day he'll be back in business.

For now, though, he says he's going to work on getting better.

Seradilla says his heart attacks have been a wake-up call for many of his friends, and he advises everyone to take the time to listen to their bodies.

"If you haven't had yourself checked out in a bit, or if there has been something that you think might be something, it doesn't hurt to go check it out," he said. "I've been blessed to have this second opportunity, you may not, so take the time."

With files from Information Radio