By Dennis Minich

I am a thankful man. A very thankful man.

I am thankful for the opportunity to eat bland food. I am thankful I get to start an exercise program. I am happy I get to take five new medicines every day. I am thankful I may not get to do some of the things I have enjoyed doing all my life. I am thankful because I almost didn’t get to experience all of those things.

Saturday evening, I finished running errands, cleaning out my gutters and putting my tools away. I called a friend and about five minutes into the conversation my left arm started aching and the pain was like I had never felt before.

I thought it was maybe soreness from my physical activities, but the pain was serious enough I called 911, and the Harrisonville dispatcher had EMS on the way within seconds. I unlocked my front door and sat suffering while the 911 operator held on to make sure they arrived. I think they were on scene within three or four minutes, but it

seemed like hours.

They came in and hooked me up to a heart monitor. It at first showed nothing so I tried to talk them out of hauling me away, but the EMS person persevered and ran another strip. This time I had no choice. I was on the way to the hospital. I got to ride in back with the lights and sirens, but it was not the thrill I had always imagined.

The pain was intense. I got a dose of morphine, but it might as well have been Skittles, because it had no impact on the pain.

The ambulance pulled into Research Medical Center, and a doctor and team of nurses were waiting just inside the door. They said I was on the way to the Cath Lab. The next thing I knew I was waking up with a doctor showing me pictures of a 100-percent blockage in my left anterior descending artery.

Occlusion of this artery is often called the widow-maker infarction, due to a high death risk.

For the next 60 hours or so, I was the guest in the hotel known as Research Medical Center. I had been told I would go home Monday, but Monday came and went without my dismissal.

My complaints to my doctor didn’t earn a lot of compassion. “You just survived the widow-maker. Back when I started in practice, this was four weeks in the hospital, so you really can’t complain about one more night.” I guess not.

My life is going to have many changes, including food and activities, but I am still alive. I am blessed I was in a position to call 911. A few minutes earlier and I could have been on a ladder with no way to call for help. A few minutes later and I could have been in the shower or basement or somewhere else where I would have been stranded.

I could have been driving.

I am thankful for the efficient and calming 911 dispatcher who took my call and waited on the line until help arrived. I am blessed the Harrisonville EMS is staffed by such knowledgeable people, including a skillful young lady who could talk the cranky old man into taking care of himself and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

I am thankful for medical professionals and advancements in medicine which allowed me to walk away from this killer. I am thankful for friends and family who have been there for my every need, whine or complaint. I am thankful for my coworkers, including Linda Thompson, who stepped up and did what they always do: put out a great newspaper every week.

In the past I have written about being thankful for things. This year I mean it more than ever before. As much as many of the changes in my life are going to stink, I am alive to enjoy it.

I am very fortunate and very thankful.

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