“Something wasn’t right”

Archive, February, Month

Not ignoring symptoms led a man into the care of his cardiologist and a potentially lifesaving procedure.

Mike knew that he just didn’t feel right.

I can’t say enough
about all of the
concern and effort
they all put in.

Less than a week later, surgeons would perform a triple bypass heart procedure to relieve Mike of severe blockages that potentially carried grave effects.

“If it was something that I had just let pass, it would have been a really big problem soon,” he said. “Doctors said this could have led to ‘the big one.’”

At 56, Mike was faced with this life-threatening condition, one so concerning that it can shake the strongest individual. But he credits McLaren Oakland cardiologist Dr. Quen Dickey with being a calming influence and seeing him through the entire ordeal.

“He is one of the most personable and thorough docs I have ever known,” Mike said. “I was so impressed with him.”

Heart attack?

It was late June, and Mike had just returned from a strenuous trip to Florida, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t feel like his usual self.

He went to sleep on a Tuesday night, only to wake up in the middle of the night, short of breath and growing concerned.

“I’m not the kind of person who goes to the ER for the sniffles,” he said, “but something wasn’t right.”

Mike arrived at the McLaren Clarkston emergency department just after 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“I was walking, talking just fine. Completely functional,” he said, but he was also surprised that his examination and ECG all came back normal.

But then his lab results returned — there was an indicator in his blood that confirmed Mike had had a heart attack.

“I didn’t have the classic heart attack signs, like pain down my left arm or crushing chest tightness,” he said. “I knew something wasn’t right, and I wasn’t even surprised it was a heart attack — I knew it was something that was going to be significant.”

From the emergency department in Clarkston, Mike was transferred to McLaren Oakland in Pontiac, where he first met Dr. Dickey.

Preventing the big one

In the cardiac catheterization lab, Dr. Dickey performed a diagnostic procedure to determine the cause of Mike’s heart attack and the severity of the condition.

“When we got in there, I didn’t expect the issue to be as significant as it was,” Dr. Dickey said. “His case was a serious one — one that needs urgent treatment to prevent the likelihood of a life-threatening heart attack occurring in the near future.”

Crucial coronary arteries in Mike’s heart were significantly blocked. One was determined to be 99 percent blocked, with two others obstructed more than 95 percent.

Mike would need triple bypass surgery.

“Stenting was an option,” Dr. Dickey said, “but with Mike’s diabetic condition, our best path to a successful outcome was the bypass.”

Mike was transferred to a nearby hospital capable of performing the specialized procedure — less than a week after walking into the McLaren Clarkston emergency department.

“Dr. Dickey did everything to coordinate this,” Mike said. “I can’t say enough about all of the concern and effort they all put in.”

A heart in recovery

“I felt like I was more than just a name and a number on a piece of paper,” Mike says.

When he learned he would be cared for at McLaren Oakland in Pontiac, he couldn’t help but laugh a little. Mike had been born in the hospital and raised in the area.

Decades later, he admitted to being pleasantly surprised by the level of care he found in Pontiac, and his McLaren Oakland primary care provider, Dr. Richard Cohen, highly recommended Dr. Dickey.

“I’ve been impressed with the whole process,” Mike said. “Afterward, when I was let loose to find my own cardiologist I went right back to Dr. Dickey.”

Mike began his recovery with McLaren Oakland Cardiac Rehabilitation in Oxford over the summer and continues in the office as part of their supervised exercise program. He’s also joined a gym and committed to a heart-healthy diet.

“It was like coming full circle,” he says. “Being born in that hospital and getting treatment there. They made the experience a lot easier than it could have been.”