Heart health was celebrated across the nation during February.
The Elgin Review visited with a couple of local residents who are currently dealing with some form or another of heart disease.
Here are two stories plus the pages we featured in our issue.
Buddy Warner shares with readers that he should have seen it coming
By Jessie Reestman Elgin Review staff writer
It was a simple doctor’s visit in July, 2014 that changed the lives of Alton “Buddy” Warner and Darline Warner forever. Buddy was 40 years old when he made an appointment with Boone County Health Center’s Dr. Joel Travis about his concern over a possible cracked rib. He had been dealing with the pain in his chest for quite some time and knew it was possible in his line of work that he had simply injured himself. Unfortunately, the news he received was far from what he had expected. Buddy was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and being in the beginning stages of congestive heart failure.
Since that first diagnosis, the Warner’s lives have changed drastically. Buddy’s work as an over the road truck driver has come to a screeching halt and Darline now makes caring for her husband, traveling alongside him to visit doctors and specialists, as well as deciphering the piles of insurance paperwork, her full time job. However, both remain optimistic about the future and are able to find hope through the therapy and care Buddy is receiving at the Boone County Health Center and Rudman Rehabilitation Center.
Buddy is now 46 years old and this is his third time in heart rehab. He has been to heart rehab twice following heart stent procedures and, currently, for the implementation of a heart pump. The heart pump or in medical terms, a Left Ventricle Assistance Device, is a small rechargeable battery operated device that is positioned within his chest cavity. The pump pulls the blood that is pooling at the bottom of his heart upward to the top of the heart so it can circulate throughout his body. In other words, Buddy’s heart is not working on its own, and this device guarantees he will not go into cardiac arrest, because the blood never stops pumping. One of the crazier things about the device is it also guarantees you cannot find a pulse.
For that reason, Buddy begins every therapy session with nurses testing his blood pressure using a Doppler ultrasound. They also check his weight, test his blood, put in place a heart monitor and then he begins his exercises. Ultimately, the goal is getting a heart transplant. The Warners are very pleased with the care they receive at Boone County Rehab. In their own words, “Rehab is a good thing. It makes you feel better and gives you hope and purpose. They answer all our questions. You learn things about your heart and body you never knew. The nurses have a good sense of humor. They are all very accommodating.” The Warners understand when you’re dealing with a life and death situation, it’s who takes care of you that is important.
Speaking of important, Buddy also wanted to share this important lesson he learned through his own experiences. “If you have a family history, get it checked. Do lots of screening, ask questions. Once you find a primary doctor and facility you are comfortable with, don’t change. They know your history. “ Unfortunately, despite all his hard work and the great care he has received, Buddy suffered a slight setback following our interview and was taken by ambulance to Bryan Heart in Lincoln where more blockage was discovered and another stent needed to be implanted, this time on the right side of his heart.
However, I am pleased to report he is now home and ready to tackle more therapy. Buddy is determined to regain his health, enjoy his two grandchildren and dance the night away at his son’s wedding this summer.
In my sit down interview with the Warners, Buddy shared, “Looking back, I should have known, I lost my mother at the age of 45 due to a stroke and my father at 49 to a heart attack.“ However, Buddy – like most of us – thought it never could happen to him.
Peggy Scheider on road to recovery
By Dennis Morgan Co-Publisher
NELIGH — On the north edge of Neligh, on the second floor of Antelope Memorial Hospital, exists a room where men and women come several times a week to regain quality of life.
The cardiac rehab center there has, for years now, provided rehabilitation therapy to people suffering from heart disease.
Elgin resident Peggy Schneider, 67 years young, is one of a number of people currently utilizing the services provided here.
On a recent Friday, she spent more than an hour there, working out under the care of staff, recovering from a heart attack she suffered back in October.
The banter between Schneider and the AMH staff is cheerful. The look on her face is one of a person looking forward to future years with her children and grandchildren due to the rehabilitation program and life changes made since that fateful day months ago where it almost came to an end.
“It all started at home,” she said about the heart attack which changed her life. “I woke up and my ears and chest were in some pain … It just got worse, my jaws and ears were in terrible pain. That’s when I thought I was having a heart attack.”
Having retired years ago as a nurse’s aide in Fremont, Peggy had helped many others. Now, she was the person in need.
“I started walking around, thinking this would pass, but the pain kept getting worse. “Oh, my God, this hurts,” she told her husband Dan.
She said his response was quick and direct. “We’re going to the emergency room!” So, they drove the 11 miles from Elgin to Neligh and she was quickly checked by PA Angela Sucha. After a blood test showed signs of a possible heart attack, Peggy was quickly taken to Faith Regional Medical Center in Norfolk for more tests.
“My numbers were way up,” she said about the blood tests. “That’s when they decided to put in stents.”
Schneider, reflecting on that fateful day, said she was grateful for the quality care she received right away at AMH. “She (Sucha) was on top of everything … If not for her, I’m not sure I would be here today.”
Hooked up to machines, Peggy said her daughters Angela and Jill were soon by her side. “They’re very protective of me,” she added.
She spent four days at the Norfolk hospital before being discharged and returning to Elgin. It was at Faith Regional where the cardiologists confirmed that she did have a heart attack. Since coming home, she’s been placed on blood thinners which she’ll have to take for two years as part of her recovery.
“It’s a life-changing moment,” Peggy said about the realization that she could have died. “Since then, I’ve changed my lifestyle. I eat better. I used to like fried foods. Now I eat more baked foods. “Dan, he’s more the cook now.”
Watching what she eats is just one of the life changes she has made.
Four months since the heart attack, Schneider said her new diet has helped her to lose weight. Eating the right foods and watching her salt intake, she says she feels better than ever.
Exercising at AMH’s cardiac rehabilitation center has played a big role in getting healthy.
Once she was healthy enough to begin rehab, she started coming to AMH three times a week. Among the machines she works out on is a treadmill and a NuStep. “They constantly monitor my heart and oxygen levels,” she said.
“It does wear you out,” she said about the exercise machines. “Right now, I feel very good. My heart is better and my weight is down. I love my kids and family, I just had to get myself better.”
She said the staff at AMH has been very helpful, noting their experience made all the difference in the world in helping her to become stronger day by day.
Since her three-month cardiac therapy has been completed and insurance no longer covers the costs, Peggy is taking advantage of a program offered by AMH where, for $5 a day, she can come in and continue her rehab on the machines.
“I’ve got to keep myself going,” she said about her recovery plan. In addition, she rides a stationary bike at home every day. Schneider believes it’s important to stay active.
“Be healthy, exercise and don’t ignore the signs,” she said about heart disease. “If you think you’re having problems, don’t ignore them, have it checked out.”