Time is of the Essence...I Beat the Odds
Friday morning started out like most of my Friday mornings, looking forward to the day's round of golf with my good friends John, Gerry and Jerry. Jerry wasn't able to play so it was just the three amigos. Between the three of us, we have played golf together for nearly 50 years. Our tee time was at 9:18 at Red Hawk Ridge in Castle Rock. Everything was going as planned, until we reached hole number five. I started feeling a tightness in the middle of my back, I had felt the same feeling the previous Friday and thought it was a muscle issue which I frequently have. This time the tightness in the middle of my back had increased and included pain in my left shoulder and arm. I soon found myself sweating profusely and became nauseous. At this time, thankfully, I realized that these were all symptoms of a heart attack. I told Gerry that I was going to dial 911 on my cell phone and that we needed to get back to the clubhouse. He took over driving while I called 911 and talked to the dispatcher.
The Red Hawk Ridge golf team alerted Jarrod Wildman, an off-duty firefighter from South Metro Fire and Charlie Rutenbeck, a retired firefighter from North Metro Fire, of my situation. Jarrod came racing out to meet me on our way in, took over driving the cart and gave me two baby aspirin. At this point, I am in quite a bit of pain and not totally aware of everything going on around me. We arrived back at the clubhouse and found the ambulance and paramedics waiting for us. They immediately went to work on me. I remember getting some nitroglycerin put under my tongue but the rest of the details are a blur. They asked me where I wanted to be taken, and I said Sky Ridge Medical Center. Having spent a considerable amount of time at Sky Ridge in 2007, I was very familiar with this hospital and it's close to home.
Doug presenting the "Live Saving Hero Award" to paramedics Lt. Jason Butts and Stephen Coffin
The total time from calling 911 to arriving at Sky Ridge was 15-20 minutes. Time is of the essence with a heart attack or stroke because you need immediate treatment. Since I called 911, the hospital was prepared for my arrival. I was taken straight to the cath lab, and they proceeded with an angiogram and ballooned my 100% blocked artery. They then placed a stent in the artery to keep it open.
Doug and his Sky Ridge Team
I'm not sure how long I was in there. I do know that once they got the artery opened my pain level went to 0. After this, I was placed in ICU and was able to see my wife, kids and golf partners. Both of our kids have always been very supportive of us, and this time was no exception. They were by my side all day Friday and most of Saturday. While in the ICU, I was given an echocardiogram test to determine any damage to the heart muscle. As I would find out later from my cardiologist, there was very little damage to the heart muscle.
One of my motivations in sharing this story with you is to instill the importance of knowing the symptoms for a heart attack or stroke. Time is on your side the quicker you call 911 and get help. I beat the odds. I was told that most people who have my type of heart attack don't survive. I also want to thank all of emergency personnel who kept me alive, and the hospital staff who treated me extremely well...and most importantly so QUICKLY.