Heart

Harry Back on his Tractor 10 Days After Heart Surgery

harry-fox

It was April, and Harry Fox had plenty of work to prepare his 360 acres for planting corn, soy beans and wheat. Farming his Brookville, Ind., property almost entirely on his own, Harry knew there was no time to be sick. Certainly no time to be out of commission with a heart attack.

For weeks, he didn’t mention to his wife, Linda, the chest pains and increasing fatigue that plagued him. Finally, in late April, “I was taking six aspirin a day, my chest was killing me, and the pain would not go away.”

Harry’s wife was out of town, so his daughter took him to Good Samaritan Hospital’s ER. “They came out within two minutes, found my blood pressure was sky high, stabilized me and called in the angiogram team,” Harry recalls.

The angiogram revealed seven blocked arteries, six of which would require surgery with bypass grafts.  “My son-in-law mentioned robotic heart surgery, but I didn’t know what he was talking about.”

Enter Cardiothoracic Surgeon Karen Gersch MD and Cardiac Surgery Clinical Nurse Specialist Jane Whalen MSN, CCNS, who explained that Dr. Gersch could bypass Harry’s blocked arteries with robotic surgery. Dr. Gersch would work on Harry’s heart through a four-inch incision and three smaller incisions. Harry told Dr. Gersch, “If you can do that and not cut my breast bone, that’s great. I want the least invasive way, because I know what I have to do when I get home.”

Harry bore the initial pain following a successful surgery, receiving minimal pain medication because his blood pressure was abnormally low. Dr. Gersch sent him home five days after surgery with assurances that his grafts were strong and he was in great shape. She instructed him to take it easy for two months.

Ten days after surgery, Harry was out on his tractor planting corn. “Sitting in that chair in the house and watching someone do my work would have been worse,” he says. In the following months, he planted and sprayed his crops, hauled 20,000 bushels of corn to Cincinnati, made a road trip to San Antonio, dug a foundation and poured cement for his barn, and harvested and stored his crops in September and October.

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Last Updated: June 16, 2014