Your Body Knows Best - Terry Allen
Physicians: Thomas Pow, MD
An elephant sitting on his chest, pain down his left arm, and a metallic taste in his mouth. All warning signs of a heart attack, and at the time, all signs 73-year-old St. Joseph resident, Terry Allen chose to wish away.
“I was a typical guy and ignored all the symptoms,” said Terry. “I got out of bed and walked around for a while and eventually they went away so I chalked it up to indigestion. I didn’t even tell my wife what happened.”
A couple months later, the nagging symptoms returned. Once again, Terry walked around his house for a while and they went away on their own. However, three days later everything changed.
“I was standing in the living room and my wife walked in and could immediately tell that something wasn’t right,” said Terry. “She insisted on driving me to the emergency department at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, which is conveniently located across the street from our home.”
When Terry arrived at the hospital and told the front desk he was experiencing chest pains, it triggered an immediate reaction from the care team. Terry spent the next few hours in the emergency department before he was transferred to the chest pain center for further diagnostic testing. Tests on Terry’s heart revealed that, as suspected, he had suffered from a heart attack and was currently in experiencing atrial fibrillation, also known as a quivering or irregular heartbeat.
“It was a scary experience and not the type of thing I ever expected to happen to me,” said Terry. “Serving as a Lakeland board member for 28 years it was eye-opening being in the patient’s shoes. I saw how the decisions I’ve been part of over the last two decades have impacted the clinical setting. I was very impressed with every aspect of the care I received – it made me proud to be part of Lakeland.”
Cardiologist, Thomas Pow, MD, oversaw Terry’s care during his hospital stay. In an effort to restore his heart to a normal rhythm, Dr. Pow prescribed Terry a series of oral medications – also known as cardioversion with drugs. The following day Terry underwent a cardiac catheterization. The detailed picture of his heart revealed a 100 percent blockage in the widow maker artery and a 95 percent blockage in a secondary artery. Dr. Pow would need to place two stents to help open the arteries back to their normal size.
“I felt like a new person shortly after the procedure,” said Terry. “I was able to go home the day after surgery and was up and walking the following day. I had so much more energy than ever before. I hadn’t realized how much I had slowed down and assumed it was just part of getting older.”
Terry continues to maintain an active lifestyle, walking around 9,000 steps a day. He recently completed cardiac rehabilitation at Lakeland–a three-month medically supervised program designed to improve patients’ cardiovascular health.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack and listening to your body–not everyone is going to be as lucky as I was,” said Terry. “A heart attack can happen to anyone. I’m so thankful to have this facility and these people in our community when the need arises.”
Hear more from Terry in the video below: