The sun is still a couple hours over on the other side of dark, the time I usually crawl out of bed, make coffee, grab my hunting gear and head for the woods. The spring turkey season is going full tilt and for the past 20 years, I’ve been one of those eager participants who sacrifice sleep to get to go out and do battle with a wary old gobbler.
Instead of hearing the alarm trip, though, bright lights assault my eyes as the cheery voice of a night shift nurse greet me with a “Good morning Mr. Harris. I need to draw some blood, check your blood pressure and temperature.”
To summarize it, there’ll be no turkey season for me this year. Instead of getting up go chase gobblers, I’m tentatively hugging the heart-shaped pillow they gave me after quadruple heart bypass surgery on Monday March 26.
I had been looking forward to cracking open the tab on yet another turkey season but for a week or two prior to season opening, I had noticed some changes in my strength and stamina. For the past half a dozen years or so, I have taken walks most days at Lincoln Parish Park, often using a stop watch to push myself to improve my time and stamina.
Lately though, I began to notice that the mile walk seemed much farther and that it would take me half a day to recover. I was not too concerned, assuming that age may be playing a part in that.
For Christmas, daughter Melissa gave Kay and me tickets to a Jerry Seinfeld concert in Shreveport slated for March 22. We secured hotel accommodations for that night, rather than having to drive home so late. Before leaving for Shreveport, I transported our four legged “son”, Rufus, to Petite Paws Pet Hotel to keep him overnight. On the way back from the kennel, I began feeling really bad, was short of breath with an aching in my lower jaws and frankly, I became worried.
I hated to do it but looking back on the events of that morning now, my action may well have saved my life. Kay was busy packing for our fun get-away when I told her of my symptoms and that maybe she’d better get me to the ER.
She transformed into Nurse Kay in no time and got us to the ER at warp speed, I was scooted back into a room where tests were run. I remember the doctor-on-call saying something about “angina” before Dr. Billy Smith came in and ordered a heart cath procedure.
The reason for the discomfort and loss of stamina I had been experiencing became starkly clear as Dr. Smith revealed what the test had shown – four blocked arteries ranging in severity from over 60 percent to one that was 99 percent blocked. Bypass surgery was the only solution and arrangements were made. Kay and I did get to make the trip to Shreveport, not to see Seinfeld but to see the surgeon, Dr. David Hamm.
Page 2 of 2 - The operation went smoothly, or so I’m told; I slept through the whole thing. After a week in Willis Knighton, North, I came home earlier this week and am now headed down that long road toward recovery.
If I had any advice to give about this whole deal, if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked immediately. I made the right decision in responding to symptoms that were not normal. Any delay and I could have had a heart attack which would have had major consequences. The fact that my heart came out of the procedure whole and in good shape will work in my favor during this long road to recovery.
Turkey season? No problem. The gobblers I didn’t get to chase this year will just have thicker beards and sharper spurs next year.