The Adventure of all Adventures!

It was mid September of 2020 and we had experienced the hottest summer in Phoenix, Arizona's history! Add to that the COVID crisis and people are creating ways to escape the heat and just get away from it all.

About this time friends of ours took a weekend drive and explored the city of Show Low, Arizona where they ended up purchasing a cabin.  Soon after we drove there to visit them, fell in love with the resort and also purchased a cabin.  We moved in quickly, escaped the heat of the valley and started a new life for summer living.

But things would soon change.  Days after moving into our summer retreat I went to the ER at the local hospital with shortness of breath and chest pain.  Nurses and Doctors evaluated the situation and I was admitted for what turned out to be a week's stay.  After many blood tests, EKGs, and Cat Scans, on Wednesday I was sent to surgery and had five stents inserted on the left side of my heart. This surprised the staff nurses as it's unusual to have that many at one time.

Things got worse and I was transferred to ICU where on Thursday evening I almost left the building to be with the Lord. As luck would have it a Doctor was only feet from my door and his team brought me back. I thank Summit Hospital for having the policy of letting a loved one be with the patient as my wife was at my side the entire time.

It's Friday morning now and at 7 am I had another downer. Doctors discussed the situation and it was determined that I would be air lifted by helicopter to St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix.  Boarding the chopper just outside the hospital emergency entrance, I felt a feeling of calm and peace. Flying was not a stranger to me as I retired after a career in aviation. I flew gliders, hot air balloons, single and multi-engine airplanes, turbo-props and jets.

My wife and our friends stood near by and waved as we lifted off.  I was propped up on the gurney next to the pilot with two nurses sitting behind me. This was a totally different flight.  I used to fly as high as 41,000 feet, but this time it would be low and slow.  Flight time was one hour and I thoroughly enjoyed each minute of viewing the mountains, valleys, rivers, and canyons. The weather was severe clear and beautiful.

We landed on the sixth story roof of St. Joseph's Hospital and was immediately wheeled into surgery where a skilled team of one Cardiologist and four nurses inserted another three stents, this time on the right side of the heart.

This week was the "Adventure of all Adventures!"  I experienced life and near death. I experienced incredible Doctors and Nurses who dedicate their lives to helping others.  No words can be spared for this dedication at both hospitals. St. Joseph was only one overnight, Summit in Show Low was four nights.

Summit Healthcare Hospital is associated with the Mayo Clinic.  I can't say enough good things about my care there.  Staff was incredible, so much so that I wrote a letter to the CEO and mentioned many names that deserved special credit!

In February Summit signed a contract with a Doctors Corporation in Phoenix to supply doctors and surgeons on a weekly basis.  They would commute back and forth by air shuttle or car. Here's where I really had luck on my side.  The Cardiologist who performed my five stents on Wednesday in Show Low, was the same Doctor that performed the last three in Phoenix on Friday!

I write this experience on my blog, not only to relive that incredible week, but to strongly encourage you to listen to your body.  If something doesn't feel right take action, get immediate help.  Men are especially stubborn and I knew a few friends including my father who ignored signs of ill health and died at an early age.

This is my Cardiologist four days after the last surgery on a post op visit, telling me that "I can go climb Mt. Everest!" 

Years ago this would have entailed open heart surgery with a long recovery and is just another example of today's awesome technology.

Because of him and all those wonderful other people who served me, I have been given a second life on planet earth with my wife, my family, and friends, and am eternally grateful to them and God.  
(Click on photos for larger view.)