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PIETER’S PROGRESS: lessons of the Heart

PIETER’S PROGRESS: lessons of the Heart


Brought to you by Meritus Health

Ed Bryan never expected the first person to greet him in heaven would be his fire chief.

But that’s what he thought two days before Christmas when he opened his eyes and saw bright, white lights.

“Oh crap, I died,” Bryan said.

But he was very much alive... and lucky to be so. He’d been fighting a fire at 2:30 in the morning on December 23 when he felt a pain in his shoulder.

It turns out he was close to death and didn’t even realize it. Two blockages had formed in the back of his heart. 

But Ed, a firefighter for more than 30 years, was convinced there was nothing wrong with him.  He was falling into the same pattern as countless other male patients he’s dealt with through the years.

“The first sign and symptom of a heart attack in a male is ‘I’m not having one!,’” Ed said.

But his fire chief ordered him to go to Meritus Medical Center.  In the ambulance, the medic took his blood pressure. The reading: 290 over 190! A sure sign something was very wrong.

Ed eventually found himself as a patient of Meritus Medical Center’s STEMI* Program, a high-tech service that’s been credited with saving thousands of lives since it began in 2008. Ed said he never felt a thing as the cardiologist snaked a small camera through the artery in his arm all the way to his heart.

Ed was able to watch on a TV monitor as dye injected into his blood stream stopped in the back of his heart in two places.

His doctor cleared the blockages and put in two stents to open up his arteries. Soon Ed was fast asleep in recovery.

As he woke up, that’s when he thought he hadn’t survived... thinking the white lights that were blinding him meant he had crossed to the other side.

Instead, he was a new man with a repaired heart, and a new outlook on life.

Ed exercises more now.  And eats more salad.  And whenever he can, he thanks his fellow firefighters for encouraging him to go to the hospital.

And he’s treated several heart attack patients since that day. When they tell him they’re not having a heart attack, he knows not to believe them.


*STEMI - Patients with ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. Also known as heart attacks.

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