Husband, Cattle Rancher and Open Heart Surgery Patient
“Julie and I are very happy about having one of the best heart hospitals around right here in our backyard.”
Steve French's Story
They're Thankful for Great Heart Care Close to Home
Steve and Julie French missed Thanksgiving dinner last year, but they still found plenty of reasons to be thankful. During a holiday weekend they’ll never forget, Steve had open heart surgery and yet prevented a damaging heart attack by recognizing the early warning signs.
The Beaverton couple stays very busy breeding and marketing elite shorthorn cattle and was looking forward to a family feast and a Saturday livestock sale in Ohio. But when Steve woke before dawn on Thanksgiving Day feeling an odd pain in his collarbone, they didn’t wait to take action.
“The pain I felt that morning was really just a twinge,” said Steve, who turned 50 last year, “I had felt it every day that week and wondered if I’d lifted something wrong. I was ready to wait until Monday to call the doctor, but Julie insisted that we go to an emergency room.”
Emergency Department staff at MidMichigan Medical Center–Gladwin checked Steve’s vital signs, ran blood tests and monitored his heart with an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Based on their findings, Steve was transported by ambulance to MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. During a stress test, Cardiologist Robert Genovese, M.D., recognized the results were so significantly abnormal, he insisted that Steve have a cardiac catheterization the same day.
Later that day, Interventional Cardiologist Rodney Diehl, D.O., performed an emergent cardiac catheterization to locate and evaluate any blockages in his coronary arteries. Images revealed that one artery was 90 percent blocked and another was 60 percent blocked, but the good news was, there was no damage to his heart.
The next day, Cardiovascular Surgeon Robert Jones, M.D., performed coronary artery bypass surgery. During the procedure, both arteries were bypassed without the use of a heart-lung machine while the heart was still beating. This is referred to as off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting.
When Steve returned home, nurse visits and a telemedicine link from MidMichigan Home Care helped him feel confident he was doing everything right. “My visitors were really impressed that Home Care could check my blood pressure, weight and pulse with a device that hooked up to the phone,” he said.
Steve has high cholesterol and has taken blood pressure medication for years. Both his parents have had open heart surgery, and his dad has a pacemaker.
“Dr. Jones said he could fix what I got from my parents, but I had to do the rest,” he said. “That meant changing the way I eat, manage stress and exercise. I do a lot of physical work taking care of cattle, but Dr. Jones told me that’s not the same as getting your heart rate up with an elliptical exercise machine,” he said.
The Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program gave Steve the peace of mind, information and motivation he needed to change his habits. “The whole rehab experience made us realize it’s doable and there are good reasons to maintain a healthy lifestyle in every aspect,” he said.
“I’m feeling really, really good now, and both Julie and I are very happy about having one of the best heart hospitals around right here in our backyard.”
Download a Heart Healthy beef lunch recipe
MidMichigan Health offers a full array of cardiovascular services, including open heart surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. For more information, visit www.midmichigan.org/heart.