While Ann Young was in quite a bit of discomfort in the wee morning hours of September 28, 2015, she was not crazy about her husband Mike’s suggestion they go to the emergency room to be seen. She reasoned the upper back and shoulder pain she was experiencing was probably a side effect of the 25 mile bike ride they had gone on with friends earlier in the day. And the feeling of indigestion? Simply a reaction to the ibuprofen she had taken to ease the pain.
Ann was certain it was nothing, but just after 3 a.m., she got in the truck with Mike and started out on the drive from their home in central Nevada to Story Medical. The decision proved to be profound, as mere seconds from home, Mike looked over at Ann as she stiffened, passed out and became unresponsive.
Not knowing what had just happened to his wife, Mike rushed to the Story Medical Emergency Department, threw open the door to the truck, and ran inside for assistance. In a matter of seconds, the Story Medical team sprung into action. The first to reach Ann was Shanda Ring, RN.
“We got her out of the truck and laid her down beside it and Shanda began administering compressions,” Mike recalls. “As she did that I ran back inside to get more help.”
Ann had suffered a massive heart attack on the way to the emergency room. And even with constant compressions and a team of skilled emergency professionals working on her, things looked bleak. When Ann failed to respond to a charge from the defibrillator, the care team loaded her on a gurney and moved her into the hospital.
“Throughout, they kept working,” Mike recalls of the team led by Dr. Joshua Rehmann, DO, who has served patients in the Story Medical emergency department since 2007. “It is hard to know how long they were working on her because it was such a surreal situation. But they kept doing compressions and continued to use the defibrillator. At no point did they ever give up on her.”
Once they got Ann in a room, and after a total of seven attempts with the defibrillator, they were able to get her heart beating again. With a helicopter on its way, the team focused on stabilizing her and preparing her for a trip to Des Moines for more advanced care.
“I probably walked five miles pacing around waiting for the helicopter to arrive,” he says. “The staff kept an eye on me and kept me very informed every step of the way. I was continually assured they were doing everything they could to ensure she pulled through. I was very appreciative of the staff and the caring environment that they provided during a very difficult time for me.“
Out of the Blue
Just 55 at the time, Ann had a family history of heart disease, which included both of her parents dying of heart attacks at a relatively young age. In an effort to counter her genetics, Ann and Mike were avid cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, and consumed a healthy diet.
“I didn’t know what was causing the discomfort,” Ann says, looking back on the hours prior to the heart attack. “I just knew I didn’t feel good. Even with my family history, I had it in my head that it was just something that I had eaten or that I had been too physically active that day. My first thought was that I am too young for something like this to happen.”
After having an emergency stent placed after the air transfer to Des Moines, Mike and Ann learned it was a blood clot that lodged in one of her cardiac arteries. The condition is often fatal and had the Young’s not been on their way to Story Medical when it happened, things likely would have turned out much differently.
“We found out much later,” Mike says, “that Ann’s condition was so serious that the medical team had serious doubts about whether she would make it to Des Moines.”
She did make it, but even with the incredible work of the team at Story Medical and the emergency procedure in Des Moines, Ann was not out of the woods.
Mike says she spent almost two weeks heavily sedated. With his adult children at his side, Mike says it was 10 days before they were certain she would pull through.
As Ann continued to improve, she was soon discharged from the hospital in Des Moines and cleared to return home to begin cardiac rehabilitation. She chose to do the rehab at Story Medical, and says she couldn’t have made a better decision.
“It was so convenient to have an option to complete my cardiac rehab right here in town,” Ann says. She and Mike say they were both a little leery about her driving longer distances in the weeks after the heart attack. She soon found, however, that not only was the location convenient, but the cardiac rehab team at Story Medical would provide her with the advanced level of care she needed to allow her to be physically active again.
“When you’re coming back from something as serious as a heart attack there is a lot of fear about how much you can actually do,” Ann says. “Having the team there monitoring me helped me quickly gain confidence. I can’t say enough about the Cardiac Rehab team at Story Medical – they are skilled caregivers with a passion for what they do and compassion for those they serve.”
She says there is an added benefit to participating in cardiac rehab.
“You are working out as a group,” Ann says. “There are others there who have been through something similar and serve as proof that things are going to get better. That you are going to get back to a normal life.”
The Good Life
Ann says it took about six months before she returned to a normal level of activity. Today, more than 16 months removed from the heart attack, she says she is a little more cautious, but back to being active and enjoying life. The couple even hiked up Pinnacle Mountain in Arkansas with their kids this past summer.
“In most ways we’ve settled back into a normal routine,” Ann says. “I still don’t feel comfortable being by myself for an extended period of time, but for the most part everything is fine.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the people who saved my life. Everything lined up just as we needed it to that morning. It was the right people, in the right place at the right time.”
Asked to describe the team at Story Medical that saved her, Ann is quick to pile on the superlatives.
“Awesome. Caring. Wonderful. Real life-savers.”
For those questioning whether the team at Story Medical is ready, willing and able to serve, she is direct.
“I had only been there once prior to this, for a cut on my finger,” Ann says. “But now I understand how fortunate we are to have a team like we have at Story Medical right here in our community. Had I chosen to go elsewhere, the outcome would have been very different for me. I either wouldn’t be here or I would have significant damage. I am so grateful that I had an option so close to home.”
“We’ve been back a few times to see everyone,” Mike says. “In fact, they refer to Ann as ‘The One’ which gives us a chuckle. We just wanted them to see Ann again and to see that they made a huge difference in a lot of lives by continuing to work on her. They literally saved her life.”