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Just Like Any Other Day - Tim Alti


Jul, 2019

Physicians: Jerome Kuhnlein, MDStephen Dickson, MDRyan Dudley, DOMatthew Campbell, MD

The alarm sounded at 4:30 a.m. on October 24.  It was just like any other day for Stevensville resident, Tim Alti. He woke up, put a pot of coffee on, made breakfast, packed his lunch, and said goodbye to his wife, Kim, and his dog before heading off to work.

Tim arrived at Cook Nuclear Plant and took the long walk in from the parking lot. Tim remembers feeling good, saying hello to co-workers, and thinking about the yard work he needed to accomplish after work later that evening. Upon walking into the main entrance, Tim’s legs felt weak and he collapsed.

Tim was suffering a major heart attack. Immediately, a guard and fellow team member, Sholanda Flowers, jumped in and began administering CPR. They also thought quickly and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart. His body went limp and he had no pulse. However, with continued efforts, they were able to get his pulse back and Tim was awake and alert.

“I remember waking up - it was like coming out of a nightmare. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know exactly what,” said Tim. “Sholanda comforted me and kept me from getting up.”

First responders arrived on the scene and escorted Tim to the accredited Chest Pain Center within the emergency department at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph. While he was in the ambulance, he was able to speak with his wife and let her know what was happening.

“Someone called Kim for me and I told her not to worry about me, but of course she was worried,” said Tim.

Cardiologist, Jerome Kuhnlein, MD, confirmed the heart attack had resulted from two blocked arteries and attempted to place a stent in each to allow blood to flow more freely. The blockage was so severe Dr. Kuhnlein was unable to complete the procedure.

His care team decided to wait a day to allow Tim’s heart to rest before cardiothoracic surgeon, Stephen Dickson, MD, performed emergency bypass surgery. After a successful surgery, Tim remained in the hospital for nine days to recover. He was in a significant pain because of the efficient and successful CPR techniques that were administered.

“I cannot say enough about how well I was treated at Lakeland, how professional all the staff were, and how well my family was treated,” said Tim.

He acknowledged the high level of care he received from the entire staff, including his anesthesiologist, Ryan Dudley, DO, and support from his primary care physician, Matthew Campbell, MD.

Tim also praised the prompt response from his fellow Cook Nuclear Plant employees and noted the textbook execution of the life-saving techniques they administered.

“Cook brought me back, Lakeland helped fix and sustain me, and my family supported me through everything. I have a lot of people pulling for me,” said Tim.

Tim has a family history of heart disease and had a mild cardiac incident 10 years prior. He noted in the weeks leading up to his heart attack there were indicators he should have recognized such as shortness of breath while mowing the lawn and increased indigestion.

"I should have been paying attention to my body and taking better care of myself, but things caught up to me. I was one of the fortunate ones,” said Tim.

Soon after being discharged from the hospital Tim began the 12-week cardiac rehab program which would provide him with the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise and eating right.  

Since the incident, Tim has completely changed his lifestyle. He walks five miles a day, strength trains three days a week, and has lost 25 pounds. He is consuming more fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and has cut back on his sugar and salt intake.

“I can’t say enough about my wife, Kim. Without my family I don’t know where I would be,” said Tim. “My family, friends, and neighbors worked hard to make sure I would not get depressed during this difficult time in my life. My daughter, Katie, was at the hospital everyday and my son, Nick, came up all the way from Tuscaloosa to support me.”

Tim and Kim have since retired and are planning to travel more. They are going to visit their son in Tuscaloosa and will see where the wind blows them after that.

“You never want something like this to happen to you or anyone else,” said Tim. “Thankfully, all the pieces of the puzzle were there to help me to survive.”

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