Today marks my anniversary. Not a wedding anniversary or a job anniversary, but a heart attack anniversary. With wedding or work anniversaries, it may be impossible to remember every detail with succinct recall, but with a heart attack anniversary, the exact opposite applies. For the few weeks prior to the event, I felt horrible. My blood pressure was obviously high. I use the word obviously because my face had been cherry red and my head had felt like it was going to explode.
June 12, 2015 was a Friday afternoon. I walked in the door and went directly to the bedroom, pulled out the blood pressure machine, and to my surprise, the reading was 200/190. I called my wife into the bedroom who saw the reading and immediately yelled out “Girls get your shoes on now”. As everyone is getting ready, I began feeling the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. I can’t begin to describe or compare, so I won’t make an attempt.
On the way to Brownwood Regional Medical Center, Beth called the emergency room and explained the blood pressure readings, which prompted personnel to be waiting to put me in a wheelchair upon our arrival. Before I could even provide any information, I felt like I was an extra in an episode of Chicago Med. There were no less than seven people in the room hooking me up to machines, poking and prodding. While this is going on, I distinctly remember praying and asking the Lord to heal whatever was going on. Within no more than three minutes, I heard Dr. Worthington tell Beth “Your husband is having a heart attack. We need to prep him for transport to Abilene Regional.” From this point, I want to brag on the staff at BRMC. As much flack as they receive, I am here to tell you that every single nurse, doctor, phlebotomist and anyone else involved with my care was amazing. They each treated me with dignity, respect and quite frankly, approached my situation as if they were treating one of their own family members. That short period of time will never be forgotten. While waiting on the folks from Air-Evac, family came to pick up my daughters, as I did not want them to see me in that condition. During the 15 minute wait to be loaded onto the helicopter, Beth, Pastor Stan Roberts and his wife Cathy as well as my friend Steve Beddow stayed with me, prayed with me and would step out as my mom, brother and sister-in-law would come to check on me.
Much like the personnel at BRMC, the Air-Evac folks were amazing. They were quick to explain every aspect of the situation and again, I was treated like a person and not a number. Again, another group I will never forget. The entire flight to Abilene, I kept saying “Thank you Lord for healing me.” As I was transported from the helicopter to the heart wing, I remember several friends and family members telling me they loved me and offering assurances. Once inside, I remember someone with an electric razor make an introduction and then, well, I woke up to a young man telling me I was in intensive care and that I had three stents placed. The next several days, there were literally dozens of different folks in and out of my room. Friends, medical personnel and family. Of all the different doctors and nurses who took care of me, I only remember one by name. A sweet nurse named Adrian Ferguson made me feel comfortable, was able to make me smile and took extra time, that she probably didn’t have, to make the experience more bearable. Ironically, she has a tie to Brownwood that I was not aware of until months after the heart attack. Adrian’s mother is Dawn Norway who works for the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce.
I spent my 40th birthday in the hospital recuperating. This week, I will turn 41 and by the grace of God, will be able to celebrate my birthday not hooked up to machines and eating hospital food. Today, on this anniversary, I am grateful for all the people God used and put in my path to save my life and see me through what could have been a much worse situation. Happy Anniversary to me.
Rick Phelps is the news director at KOXE-KBWD radio and a former staff writer for the Brownwood Bulletin. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com.