SPECIAL REPORT: Life Interrupted - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SPECIAL REPORT: Life Interrupted

Posted: Updated:

Much to my surprise, I experienced quite a case of 'Life: Interrupted,' in late January. A series of personal events, originating from the aftermath of a light dusting of snow, which had fallen on our sidewalks in Hudson. I would end up at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Read more about the care you can receive at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics 

That last snowfall of January wasn't much in Hudson. As I recall, it was barely more than an inch. But, it was a very wet and heavy snow. So wet and heavy it even clogged up my always reliable 1996 John Deere snow blower, forcing me to clear my sidewalks using my metal snow shovel. As it turned out, that snowfall, and that shoveling experience, would have a profound impact on my life.  

Little did I know at the time, but, I had suffered a non-stemi myocardial infarction, a mild heart attack somewhere along the line. Doctors don't know when that happened, but I did not experience any of the classic heart attack symptoms.

Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack? Read more here: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/Heart-Attack_UCM_001092_SubHomePage.jsp

First of all, you need to understand; I love shoveling snow. Just like I love to mow my lawn and paint. Basic chores, which give me a sense of accomplishment. I can look and see exactly what I've done. In my business of television news, I really can't see the results very often. You send the signal out there, perhaps off to Mars, not really knowing who's watching or if anyone really cares.

As I started to shovel the shorter of our two main sidewalks, the snow just seemed so heavy for some reason. I just attributed it to the wet nature of the snow. I really struggled to finish that sidewalk, but, got it done and then drove to downtown Waterloo to work out at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex for an hour or so. Following my workout, I drove back to Hudson to finish my other sidewalk, which is considerably longer than the sidewalk I already shoveled.

Again, I truly struggled to move the snow and remember saying to myself at the end, “I'm never doing this again. This is for young people.” I was literally exhausted, like never before. It never occurred to me that something might be wrong.

A couple of days passed, but, in the back of my mind, I was still thinking about how difficult it was for me to move that little bit of snow. I decided to tell my wife about it and she ordered me to go to the doctor right away for a checkup.

I should note: My wife worked at Covenant Medical Center for 42 years, retiring this past July. She spent the past 30-years as Manager of the Covenant Cardiac Rehabilitation program, She knew something wasn't right and that's why she ordered me to the doctor. 

An EKG revealed what appeared to be an abnormal reading, so, a stress test would be my next stop at Covenant Medical Center.

To learn more about an EKG, read here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ekg/home/ovc-20302144

A stress test is sometimes called a treadmill test, or graded exercise test. Formally, it's known as an exercise electrocardiogram. The patient walks on a treadmill (sometimes a stationary bike) to test the heart's response to the exercise. The walking gradually becomes more difficult, as the speed and grade increase throughout the test. Heart rate and blood pressure are tracked throughout the procedure, until the patient can no longer go on.

I'll go off track here for just a minute to say I took a stress test several years ago for a University of Northern Iowa Professor, who taught a very interesting course at UNI in the late 1980's, affectionately known as the marathon class.

The semester-long, 3-hour credit class, featured a combination of the physical demands of running a marathon, along with the mental aspects of running 26-miles, 385 yards, in a single effort.

Two veteran UNI professors were the instructors for that 1989 UNI class.

Dr. Forrest Dolgener, longtime Kinesiology & Exercise Physiology Professor at UNI, taught the physical aspects of running a marathon.

Dr. David Whitsett, popular UNI Professor of Psychology, now-retired, taught about the grueling psychological demands of completing a marathon.

It was the most fascinating course I had ever taken, highlighted by running and completing the Drake Relays Marathon in Des Moines.

For that effort, I received 3 hours of graduate credit. So, to this day, I can honestly say I carried a 4.0 GPA as a graduate student at the University of Northern Iowa.

This course also led to publication of a marathon training book, entitled, The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer, authored by Dr. Whitsett, Dr. Dolgener and Tanjala Kole.

Now back to my current stress test, which was scheduled for January 31, 2017, at Covenant Medical Center.

Actually, I was very excited to take this test, but never got the chance.

Nurse Practitioner, Tabetha Gehrke, and Stress Test RN, Erin Smith, had me all ready and hooked up to an Electrocardiogram machine with several electrodes, which would record my heart activity during the test.

But, when Covenant Cardiologist, Dr. Ahsan Maqsood, saw erratic electrical signals coming out of the Electrocardiogram machine and its video monitor, he immediately canceled the stress test, saying, “This is a serious abnormality. I expect several blockages.”

They sent me right to the Covenant Cardiac Catheterization lab, where an examination of my heart revealed four major blockages, which meant I would need open heart bypass surgery right away.  The video story is here on kwwl.com

More tonight at 10 on KWWL. 

Powered by Frankly