Phoenix resident Dave English turned 53 not that long ago. Normally birthdays are happy events, but turning 53 for Dave was a bit different. And maybe a bit ominous.
“I had two cousins die of heart attacks,” he reported. “Both were 53. My grandfather died of a heart attack at 53. Last July another cousin died of a heart attack at 50. My great grandfather died of a heart attack at 54…”
For Dave, the writing on the wall was there to see.
“My family’s cardiac history is like a train wreck,” he said. “So when I went to the Phoenix VA for my scheduled physical I told the doctor I was a little creeped out and wanted to get my heart checked…
“It’s a good thing I did,” he continued. “I had absolutely no symptoms, but my angiogram revealed multiple blockages.”
Dave said the good folks at the Phoenix VA jumped into action immediately.
“They didn’t mess around,” he said. “Dr. Joel Kupfer, chief of cardiology at Phoenix, came in to see me and said I needed surgery right away. He said I was in bad shape. I was still a bit shocked at how the day was unfolding, so I asked if I could go home and get my stuff in order.”
The doctor didn’t mince words.
“The doc told me, ‘You have a very serious condition. Please promise you will be there this evening.’ So I gave my word as an Annapolis grad and Marine officer that I would report back as scheduled.”
Dave said his surgery, which took place two days later, was a great success: “Dr. Mark Tasset was my surgeon, and he was fantastic. He gave me a quadruple bypass. Later they told me that if I had waited another week, it’s likely I would have had a massive heart attack.”
The Marine Corps officer said he wants to share his story with as many of his fellow Veterans as possible.
“It seems the media are filled with negative coverage of the VA,” he observed. “Stories like mine are seldom heard. But through this experience and after, I have seen how the VA is working hard to be proactive. Today I’m feeling healthy and enjoying my new lease on life. And for that, I thank the helpful doctors, nurses and staff at the Phoenix VA.”
Dave said he has one simple message for Veterans everywhere: “Get screened!” he urged. “Take ownership of your health.”