A blessing in disguise - Stephani Wuthnow
Physicians: Kourosh Baghelai, MD
One summer’s day, as Stephani Wuthnow entered the barn on her small farm in Niles, she felt short of breath from the quick walk up to the building. It was something she’d started to notice more lately, but she chalked it up to a busy few months.
Stephani began to feed her goats when she suddenly became light-headed and sick to her stomach. Feeling like she was going to pass out, the only thing she could do was lie down on the barn floor.
“I honestly thought I was going to die there,” said Stephani, as she reflected on the moment.
For thirty minutes, she stayed on the floor until she finally felt well enough to walk back down to the house. She began to go about her day as normal, then had second thoughts and decided to visit the emergency department at Lakeland Hospital Niles.
Thankfully, she listened to the signs of her body. A series of tests revealed that a valve in her heart wasn’t working correctly and needed to be replaced right away. She was transferred to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph for surgery.
“It was all so unexpected for me,” said Stephani. “Thankfully everyone I encountered was really kind which made it a little easier.”
Stephani stayed on the cardiac floor to be monitored for a few days before surgery. She also met with cardiothoracic surgeon, Kourosh Baghelai, MD, who further explained the procedure she would need to undergo.
“Everyone spoke highly of Dr. Baghelai,” said Stephani. “Before he came to see me, my nurse even told me that she would trust him with her own babies.”
Stephani quickly learned why and said she appreciated Dr. Baghelai’s skill and the level of care he provided. Her valve replacement surgery was successful, and Stephani was transferred to the critical care unit to recover before being discharged to return home.
“The staff worked so well together,” said Stephani. “They were also willing to help one another out. When you’re lying there healing, it’s great to hear cheerful conversation. I really appreciated that a lot.”
The nurse supervisor even took time to braid Stephani’s hair.
“Naturally, I didn’t feel good after surgery, and it was just so comforting to look a little better,” said Stephani. “All the nurses were very capable and comforting.”
Since the surgery and recovery, Stephani has noticed improvement in her strength and overall health. She also credits the repair of her heart valve for her ability to survive a serious staph infection she experienced after a root canal.
“I was in tremendous pain and unable to sleep from the infection attacking my body and joints,” she said. “I don’t think I would have lived through that if I hadn’t had heart surgery. It really was a blessing in disguise.”
Now, Stephani is back to life as normal on the farm she shares with her husband, busy with her job at Life Action Ministries, and back to tutoring piano students again.
“I have my life back,” said Stephani. “And one of the best things about that is being with my family. We have eight young grandchildren. It means a lot to my husband and me to be in their lives.”