Beyond the Blockage - Brian Miner
Physicians: Christopher Chiu, MD
A long-time pipefitter, Kalamazoo resident Brian Miner, 58, had just begun work on the Lakeland Medical Center expansion when the pain in his chest started. At first, he shrugged it off, and it faded in and out, as he continued installing medical gas lines that would soon serve patients.
“I didn’t think much of it,” said Brian. “But by the next morning, an hour into my shift and the third day on the job, the pain in my chest was too strong to ignore.”
Brian set down his tools and walked across the driveway to the emergency department. Once there, he met acute care nurses Barb and Lori who evaluated his condition.
“Barb and Lori were sweet women,” said Brian. “They were professional, methodical, and kind, which made me feel very comfortable.”
Tests showed that Brian was having a heart attack, and he was rushed to the cardiac catheterization lab to have two stents placed in his heart.
During a heart attack, blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked and one or more areas of the heart don't get enough oxygen, causing serious issues. Cardiologist Christopher Chiu, MD oversaw the procedure to open the blocked arteries.
“I was never really scared even though one artery was blocked 100 percent and the other 95 percent,” said Brian. “That had a lot to do with the people taking care of me.”
Dr. Chiu and his team explained each thing as they did it, which also helped Brian feel confident in his treatment.
“Later, they even showed me pictures of my arteries and what was going on,” he said.
Within five hours, Brian was recovering from the heart attack and life-saving procedure, just steps from the job site. He knew it had been a close call, especially because his mother had passed away from a heart attack around the same age.
When Brian’s wife Ann traveled from Kalamazoo to be with him, she also met Lakeland team members who were happy to help. Using a walker because of a disability, she received assistance to navigate the halls of the hospital.
“Once she got to the front door of Lakeland, everybody was very helpful getting her to my room,” said Brian.
After an overnight stay, he was cleared to go home. But only a few months later, Brian experienced more chest pains on the job site and returned to the emergency department.
“I was being cautious, and it ended up being a muscular issue,” said Brian. “Both Barb and Lori were there again and had me under observation. Even though everything was okay, they assured me that I did the right thing.”
They also went over the difference in heart attack and sore muscle symptoms, as heart attack pain often comes and goes while a steady ache is more likely a muscular issue.
After his heart attack, Brian has made a number of lifestyle changes, including switching out soda for water and losing 20 pounds. He’s also learned to be more aware of the signals his body sends rather than brushing them off. But one thing hasn’t changed.
“I haven’t really slowed down at work,” said Brian. “I’m still a fast walker!”
Back on the job site, Brian is busy pipefitting in the new Lakeland facility where others will soon benefit from the same compassionate care he received.
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In this short video Brian Miner describes the day he became a heart attack survivor: