Getting to the Heart of the Matter
Physicians: Jerome Kuhnlein, MD; Samuel Durham, MD
Robert Carnes, a 63-year-old Buchanan resident, lived a health-conscious lifestyle. He golfed regularly, went on walks with his wife, and had never been admitted to a hospital.
Until one day, while walking up a hill, he felt a sharp pain in his chest. It soon went away and he didn’t think any more of it. However, in the days that followed the pain came back regularly.
After talking with his wife, Patty, Robert thought it would be best to meet with his primary care provider at Lakeland Family Medicine, Niles. There he was diagnosed with angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, and referred to cardiologist, Jerome Kuhnlein, MD.
At his next appointment Robert underwent a series of tests to help Dr. Kuhnlein better understand his condition. The results of the test came back showing that Robert had an aneurism and three blockages in his heart – one of which was major.
Due to the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. Kuhnlein couldn’t put in a stent, and instead scheduled Robert to undergo a quadruple bypass with cardiothoracic surgeon, Samuel Durham, MD. Admittedly, Robert was nervous. Not only was this his first serious medical encounter, it was also a major surgical procedure – one that would in turn help improve blood flow to his heart.
However, Robert’s concerns quickly faded the day he arrived for surgery. Everyone he encountered worked hard to ensure he had the best care experience possible. “The staff was truly unbelievable,” said Robert. “They made sure I knew what to expect going into the surgery and that I felt comfortable with everything that was going to happen that day.”
After a successful surgery, Robert awoke in the critical care unit of Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph, hooked up to a ventilator. Typically after a major procedure like Robert’s, patients are connected to a ventilator for an extended period of time, but he was taken off it after only a few hours. Happy to breathe on his own, Robert began the healing process.Over the next few days, Robert was moved to the step-down unit to finish his recovery.
“Everyone I encountered in both departments was phenomenal,” he said. “I was especially grateful for how accommodating they were for my wife. They never once asked her to leave, and instead only offered to make her more comfortable.”
The day after his surgery, Robert was able to begin walking around the hospital. He was both pleased and surprised at his ability to be on his feet again so soon. Robert also said he valued the staff’s concern for him and their efforts to make sure he had everything he needed.
“I don’t know how to say thank you enough,” he said. Robert was ultimately so appreciative of the care he received, that he and Patty returned to the hospital after his discharge with thank you letters and gift cards for those who had cared for him during his stay.
These days, Robert is in a rehabilitation program as he continues to recover. He strives to still maintain an active lifestyle and walks two miles a day.
Overall, the surgery was a life-changing experience for both Robert and Patty. “My wife calls me her rock,” Robert said, explaining that this was a time when, try-as-he-might, he couldn’t be the strong one. Thankfully, his care team at Lakeland Health was there to get him back on his feet so he could be there for her, once again.