“I was just getting to the top of the stairs when I felt my chest squeeze together. I felt dizzy and couldn’t breathe. I had a mild heart attack years ago, but this was different. I could feel my body shutting down. I was scared, and for the first time in my life, I actually thought I was going to die.
“I went to the emergency room, and they ran some tests and referred me to a doctor from Duke Cardiology. It turned out that I wasn’t having a heart attack, but I needed a pacemaker. He explained everything and calmed my fears. When it came to choosing where to have the surgery, I knew Southeastern was exactly where I wanted to go. Knowing the Heart Center has Duke doctors gave me confidence.
“The nurses went beyond the call of duty. They were so willing. It wasn’t as though they were doing you a favor; it was almost as if you were doing them a favor by letting them come in and help you. A couple of nurses told me, ‘If you just want to talk, ring for me.’ I’ve been in hospitals before, but for the doctors and nurses to take the time to treat me like a person––well, that’s not like a regular hospital. That experience made me feel special, as though I were important and they were concerned about me.
“Today I have all this energy. I like to get outdoors in the garden and go hiking. I enjoy working out at the gym, and afterwards, I feel ready for anything.
“You can’t let things get you down. You set goals for yourself, and you keep moving. If you eat healthfully and you work out, you’re going to be just fine. I know I won’t be here forever, but I’m going to live healthfully, stay busy and enjoy life. I’m 71 years old, and I think I do pretty well.”