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Jo Kenkel

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Jo Kenkel

A heart attack? No way! That happens to someone else. On October 12, 2018, I became that “someone else”.

The day started like any other day...up at 4 a.m., to work by 5:30. I felt fine, finished my shift, went to my mother’s to clean. When I finished there, I headed home. There was no harvesting going on because of the rain, so the guys were off running errands. I took that as a sign to catch up at home. I felt fine and got busy. Alan called around 7:30 p.m. that night and said they would be home around 9:30. I remember looking at the clock around 8 p.m. and just like that, I got sick to my stomach and my jaws started to hurt. I headed to the bedroom and the next thing I know, Alan is trying to wake me up. I had fallen and passed out for over an hour. I was freezing and knew something was not right. It felt like the stomach flu. I got into bed and my jaws began to hurt again, and I told Alan that I thought I was having a heart attack or stroke. We should have called 911, but I had him take me to Myrtue Medical Center. The ER staff was wonderful. Once things were under control they sent me to the city. It was too foggy to fly so Medivac came to the rescue. The ambulance crew was also great.

When we arrived at the hospital we were met by nurses and the doctor. He introduced himself as Dr. Tom Brandt and he was going to save my life.

Alan told me later it took about 16 minutes to put the stent in and for the doctor to come and talk to him. I am now taking medicine daily. I have a medicated stent and I am getting stronger every day.

I have been told I was having a tombstone heart attack. We can all figure out what that means. So, am I changing things? You bet! Do I fall into old habits? Sometimes. Will I pay more attention to what my body is telling me? Yes. Will I go to the doctor just to review and get checked over? Yes. This was a huge wake-up call to our family and if I can help one person I’m all for it.

I was released the next day and had several appointments to make. One was with Jill Ferry and the next was Cardiac Rehab. Cardiac Rehab was going to take me through 36 sessions of exercising and education. The gals were fabulous: Jana Schmitz, Tammy Bladt, Karen Kenkel and Melissa Christian. They were and still are understanding, encouraging, and there when I just need a “pick me up”. Once these sessions were over, they told me about a program at the Wellness Center. I knew I still needed to be pushed to continue exercising. So today I know am working with a dynamite trainer, Jackie Alberti, and taking steps to improve physically.

I have great support from my family and they are always willing to listen and encourage me.

They say women have different signs. Was it the heartburn that was worse, stress, headaches, tired, just not feeling 100%, I believe those were all my signs that I ignored. I’m going forward and I will be around to drive my kid’s nuts, hug the grandkids, and have fun with my greatest supporter, friend, and partner, Alan.

Jo Kenkel

MMC Dietary Dept.