January 2023  

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  Claire Blocker
In the spring of 1998, March 16th to be exact, my four-year-old Springer Spaniel bit me on the hand. By the next day, I had red streaks all across my chest. My husband rushed me to the ER and I was treated for what turned out to be a Pasteurella bacteria in my lymphatic system. The next morning the hand surgeon operated on my hand. Two days later the doctor was trying to send me home. I told my husband that "I just didn't feel right". That was good enough for him. He told the doctors that I could stay as long as I felt I needed to, even if it meant "self pay". Two and a half days later I had a heart attack in the hospital. Thank god the LPN on duty believed me and called for the crash cart when I said I couldn't breathe. She gave me oxygen and called the ER. The ER nurses thought it was reflux. When the LPN saw the EKG, she faxed it to the cardiologist on duty and within minutes I was in CICU.

On Monday morning I was taken to the cath lab with the thought that they could do an angioplasty or stent. Forty-five minutes later the doctor told my family that these options were not possible and that I would need to have open-heart surgery; which they didn't do at that hospital. On Monday afternoon I was put in an ambulance and rushed to the Main hospital and readied for bypass surgery for the next morning. On Tuesday the 25th of March 1998, I had quadruple by-pass surgery utilizing two venous grafts and two mammary arteries.

I had a difficult recovery over the next four months and was unable to start cardiac rehabilitation due to a staph infection in my sternum. The incision festered and the surgeon had to open and drain it. I was then challenged with changing and repacking the area 4 times a day at home for 4 weeks. July 1st I entered a cardiac rehabilitation program. By September of 1998 three of my four grafts had failed. The cardiologist at the time suggested a stent; this was done in October. After complications and 16 extra days in the hospital I went home. In November I choose a preventative cardiologist in lieu of the original doctor.

By January my three-month-old stent had occluded. After three sets of 37 EECP treatments, three contiguous cobalt chromium stents, 4 years of twenty miles a week walking, twice a week weight training and daily management of my familial hypertriglyceridemia, I am actually grateful for the wake-up call I got almost five years ago. I am happier, healthier and far more balanced than I have ever been. My heart disease has actually enriched my life and been a positive thing for me.

Without the loving support of my devoted husband Tom, his incredible parents, our five beautiful children and three adoring grandchildren though, I couldn't have made it. Life is good!


HeartBright Foundation
2101 Cambridge Beltway Drive
Suite C
Charlotte, NC 28273

p. 704-373-3002
f. 704-373-3004

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HeartBright Foundation is a recognized 501(c)3 charity. All donations are tax deductible.