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Ryan Petersen

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Ryan Petersen

FROM MYheart...

December 12th, 2019, was like every other morning. For the past week, I had been battling a chest cold, but I was starting to feel a little better. I got up and was having coffee and breakfast. I suddenly had a big cough, similar to other mornings, but this time, I noticed a searing pain in my chest, as if I had strained my lungs. I thought, “that was intense.” I did some stretches. It not only continued, but got worse. Nothing worked. It was a deep pain that started radiating toward the center of my body. I did more stretches yet nothing worked. I could not get comfortable. At that point, I knew I needed to be seen.

I called my wife, Claire, who works at Myrtue Medical Center’s Physical Therapy Department and she said she would meet me in the Emergency Room. Claire called my dad to pick me up and we went to Myrtue’s ER. My jaw was really sore and then the tingling down my left arm started. All the way down to my pinky finger—it was numb and tingling. I was met by RN’s Deb and Cheryl and they did a wonderful job keeping me calm.

They performed an EKG, took my blood work, and gave me the necessary medications. After reviewing the EKG, Dr. Heileson came in and said, “I don’t like the look of your EKG. You are having a heart attack, we are transferring you to Methodist Jennie Edmundson for a heart cath. I don’t know how much blockage you have, but we will take care of you.” Dr. Heileson consulted with Dr. Brandt, Methodist Jennie Edmundson, Cardiologist, who was on site at Myrtue’s Specialty Clinic. They agreed that I needed to go directly to the cath lab at Jennie.

I exercised extensively before this incident and got my blood work done on a regular basis. However, I admit, I didn’t really follow-up on what my blood work said. I didn’t watch what I was eating. I travel a lot for work and just ate whatever sounded good and was easy. I knew I didn’t have the healthiest diet, but I thought if I exercised it would all balance out in the end. Even though I have a family history of heart issues, I thought, I’m young and relatively healthy, I don’t have to worry about that stuff right now.

Now I know many of the symptoms I was experiencing could have been warning signs that something wasn’t right. Shortness of breath. Extreme fatigue. Headaches. These were all signs, but I brushed them off and attributed them to a chest cold.

As it turned out, I had a 100% blockage in my left anterior descending artery. The care I received at Myrtue and Jennie saved my life. If it weren’t for Dr. Heileson, Myrtue’s ER nursing staff, Dr. Brandt and Jennie’s team, I wouldn’t be here.

After my time in Cardiac Rehab at Myrtue, I knew there was still work to be done. I learned about eating right and the importance of changing my diet. I pay a lot more attention to what I eat now.

This experience resulted in a complete 180-degree change in my life. I am not going to go backwards. I never want to feel that pain again. I knew I had to make changes in my diet and take better care of myself even though I’m still young. You shouldn’t wait until something bad happens to make changes.

I would tell other people who know they have heart issues in their family history or who have high cholesterol: don’t ignore it, get it checked out. My cholesterol was high and I ignored it. I should have paid much more attention. You just never know so it’s always best to get it checked out. Pay attention to your family history. Pay attention to your numbers. Pay attention what you eat.

- Ryan Petersen