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Friday, February 21, 2014

Surviving a heart attack with love and prayers from many


By Ted Slowik

Around 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, I started having chest pains. Not sharp pains--more like someone squeezing the breath out of me. I tasted blood. I'd never felt that before but didn't know if it was serious or something like a cramp that might pass. After about 10 minutes, I asked my wife to call 911. I just had a feeling.

 The paramedics came quickly. Annie, our little chihuahua-terrier who barks at everything, was strangely silent as they helped me from our house to the ambulance for the short ride to the hospital. They kept asking me to rate my pain, and I kept saying, "I can't breathe."


When we got to the hospital I heard one paramedic tell the other, "They called it," which I knew meant a code blue. The last thing I remember was being wheeled into the ER on a stretcher and having my chest shaved. Then blackness. Then I woke up at 9 a.m. Tuesday with no memory of what had happened during the past 12 hours. 
What happened was I had 100 percent blockage in the main Left Anterior Descending (LAD) artery. They said my heart stopped for six minutes. People pounded on my chest, ran a stent up through my right femoral artery and got my heart started again.

There's a history of heart disease in our family. Our dad had a heart attack, and one claimed the life of brother Jim. Just a couple weeks ago in California brother Tom had to have a stent put in, and Mom made us all promise to get electrocardiograms (EKGs).

Mine was scheduled for Tuesday.

So thanks, everyone, for the many prayers and well-wishes. I'm going to get better in time but some serious damage was done and I'm going to have to rest for a couple more weeks. I now wear my own portable AED that's supposed to shock my heart back to life should I have another heart attack in the middle of the night! I'm going to exercise more, eat better and take meds to help with cholesterol and blood pressure, and I'm through smoking for good this time.


I especially want to thank the Joliet paramedics, everyone in the ER and all the staff at St. Joe's who helped save my life. Thanks Chaplain Dan for comforting my family when it looked really bad, and thanks Fr. Brad from St. Ray's for the prayers. Thanks to all my family for their love and support, Kev, and especially Jo, Hannah and Noah for having to put up with me a while longer.

Life becomes a lot more meaningful when you realize every day is a gift.