My family has a very stoic way of managing illness: drink a hot brandy with lemon and honey, then ignore whatever ails you. After awhile it will get better.
In a recent interview with Terry Kissner, a cardiac rehab client at Trinity Health, it became evident that my family belongs to a Band of Brothers.
In the early hours of a Monday morning last fall, Kissner was pulled from sleep by shoulder pain that radiated through his chest and down his left arm. He recalled it lasted about 20 minutes, then dissipated. Afterward he felt fine.
Two nights later, Terry awoke with severe stomach pains and began sweating profusely. Soon enough, he became extremely hot and nauseated, but after 20 minutes, that too, went away.
On Thursday, Kissner decided to go fishing and “felt awful all day,” which finally prompted him to see a doctor the next day. A blood test showed that he had a high count of antimyocardial antibodies (AMAs), which are a sign of heart damage. In hindsight, Kissner realized he most likely suffered two heart attacks earlier that week. He was admitted to Trinity Hospital on Friday, and one week after his first event, Kissner underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery.
“I had 70-90% blockage in four arteries – my main artery was 90% blocked. I couldn’t walk 100 feet without sitting down,” he said. Four days later he was cleared to return home.
Since late November, Kissner has been participating in cardiac rehabilitation at Trinity Health. He travels to Minot from Westhope twice a week and participates in sessions that require strength training and 15 minutes on the elliptical machine. He also walks the halls in lieu of the treadmill. An avid outdoorsman, he is anxious to return to competitive archery and get back on his bike this spring.
“I love to ride my bike and am working hard to get my legs in shape,” he said. “My legs haven’t worked for four to five years due to my heart condition. I knew it was my heart, but I put it off because I was afraid of surgery. But the doctors, nurses, techs and CNAs at Trinity Hospital were unbelievable.”
Kissner’s motivation is to ride his bike from home to Minot this summer, a 50-mile one-way trip. He will conquer this goal through dedication and perseverance, powered by his strong heart and strong legs, one pedal stroke at a time.
“I’m 72 years old, but feel like I’m 42,” he added. “This is the best I’ve felt in years!”