Stacey Gilroy will never forget those chilling words uttered by her
husband, Mike, when she met him in Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Emergency
“You had what?” she asked, staring at his ‘sheet-white’ countenance.
Head shaking in disbelief, Mike responded, “I had a heart attack.”
For a fleeting moment, time stood still as Stacey, a Labor and Delivery
nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital, tried to fathom how this could be happening
to her husband of nine years and 43-year-old father of two young girls.
“It rocked my world,” Mike admits. Yet, amid all the questions and
unknowns, he was sure of one thing. “I’m in the right place now,” he
said out loud, and then to himself, over and over again. “They’re
going to take care of me.”
all began around 9:45 on the night of Saturday, January 20. Stacey
Gilroy was home in bed, having worked her usual 12-hour shift, when she
heard Mike’s car pull up the driveway. Entering their bedroom, he stood
motionless, the dim light of the TV outlining his 6-foot-4 stature. “I’m
not sure exactly what’s going on here,” he announced, “but I feel like
something’s not right.”
Mike recounted the day’s events—how he hadn’t worked out, so it couldn’t
be a pulled muscle… that he and the girls ate dinner at Buffalo Wild
Wings, where he’d eaten a grilled chicken wrap—nothing heavy, so he
doubted it was indigestion… that after coaching his niece’s basketball
game, he noticed he didn’t feel quite like himself.
The pain—well not a pain per se, more like a discomfort—started off in
his stomach, then his back, and then, gesturing, he places his hands
across his chest…
Stacey jumped out of bed. “Oh my God, do you think you’re
having a heart attack?!?!”
Quickly, their thoughts shifted to daughters Maura, 4, and Maeve, 7, and
the trauma of witnessing an ambulance whisking their daddy away. They
called Mike’s sister, who drove him to Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Emergency
Department. Stacey called the ED staff to alert them that Mike was on
the way while she waited for her mother to arrive to watch the girls.
At 10:06 pm, Mike walked into the ED, rested his head on the counter and
told the receptionist, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” Within
moments, he was on the exam table in Triage, doctors and nurses bustling
to perform a cardiac workup. The EKG revealed ST elevation and a
myocardial infarction—in layman’s terms, a heart attack.
Shortly after 11:00 pm, Interventional Cardiologist Sean Janzer, MD,
performed an emergency thrombectomy and stent placement to the left
circumflex (one of three arteries supplying blood to the heart) in Bryn
Mawr Hospital’s Cardiac Cath Lab. Mike’s artery had 100 percent
blockage—a situation that could cause permanent damage to his heart
muscle without immediate intervention. “It was mind blowing,” Stacey
recalls with amazement, referring to the remarkable speed with which the
Bryn Mawr Hospital team raced to save her husband.
According to Kim Mayhew, Cardiovascular Physician Assistant and Chest
Pain Center Coordinator, “time is muscle.” The national standard for
“first medical contact to Cath Lab” is 90 minutes, she explained. Mike’s
was 70 minutes. Had he arrived by ambulance, that time would have been
even less, helping to preserve heart muscle.
After Mike was admitted to the Critical Care Unit, he learned that his
LAD artery—the one commonly referred to as the “Widow Maker”—had
significant narrowing. He would require a second catheterization and
stent placement to open up the 80 percent blockage.
Mike and Stacey recall how the caring staff helped them get through that
vulnerable time. “Everyone we came in contact with those six days was
just amazing. They understood that this wasn’t just about Mike; it was
about our 4 and 7-year-olds, our entire family.”
Today, Mike is back to his pre-heart attack activity—and then some. He’s
exercising more, riding his bike, and eating healthy. He happily reports
that he’s lost 20 pounds, and his cholesterol count is better than
ever. The whole experience was a wake-up call. “I’m done with that
phase of my life,” he declares. “I’m not going back.”
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.