Leon and Elaine Graves Nebraska
Leon and Elaine Graves have both survived life-threatening heart and stroke events. Elaine shares their story to encourage others to pay attention to symptoms, and to not hesitate to call 9-1-1 when something doesn’t seem right.
Several years prior to September 2009, my doctor heard a “swishing” noise while my heart was beating and sent me to have an echocardiogram of my heart. I learned then that I had a leaky heart valve which needed to be watched.
Then, on September 18, I had open heart surgery to replace my mitro valve. Doctors seemed to think I had rheumatic fever as a child, and that damaged my heart valves.
In addition to that, there were times my heart would race and beat very fast. In September 2014, I went to the ER at the local hospital because my heart was racing so fast. The doctor had me transported to Nebraska Heart Hospital by the ambulance crew.
Then, on October 14, I had put in a full day of work and apparently commented that I didn’t feel well and then went home. Our nephew came over to visit for a bit and while talking to him, I sat down on a kitchen chair and my heart stopped. Our nephew called 911 and the ambulance arrived shortly thereafter.
The paramedics performed life-saving CPR and shocked my heart and took me to the hospital where Dr. Widhalm saw me. He called for the life helicopter to transport me to Nebraska Heart Hospital. There, a pacemaker and defibrillator were implanted.
On March 17, 2015, my husband Leon told me that he was having chest pains and I told him we’d better get to the ER. He said they weren’t heart chest pains and he was going to rest for a bit. He sounded funny after he went into the living room so I went in there to see if he was OK. He was unconscious and I couldn’t wake him up. I called 911 and told them I thought he may have had a heart attack. Within a couple of minutes, the ambulance was there.
Paramedics started performing CPR and they shocked his heart a couple of times with the AED. By this time, our living room was full of paramedics!
They took Leon to the local hospital and Dr. Widhalm was there waiting for us. He had already called for the life helicopter and Leon was flown to the Nebraska Heart Hospital. There, he was examined and all his arteries were in great shape so we were puzzled as to what caused his heart to stop. After blood tests it was discovered that his potassium level was critically low. He was not coming around or waking up so a brain scan was done and it showed four TIA’s which affected his left side – his arm and his leg. He was then transferred to Madonna Hospital for stroke rehab. Leon was there for a month, then transferred to the Swing Bed Care Unit at the local hospital for a couple of weeks where physical therapists worked with helping him regain his strength and use of his arm/hand and to walk again.
If it weren’t for the paramedics in both of our cases, we wouldn’t be here. We can’t tell enough people how appreciative we are to have an ambulance crew in our town and how talented they are. They asked questions and were very caring. Making sure I was alright also. If I needed to I’d call 911 again and I wouldn’t have any second thoughts about doing so. In minutes many lives can be saved, we know.