The Heart of the Matter

“No one should have to go through what we did,” says Clay Bockting, Arnold resident. Read on to hear his story.

I was 50 years old when I had my second heart attack. The first time it felt like I had a cannonball on my chest. This time, I thought it was indigestion, but given my history, I called an ambulance. They took me to AAMC and everything looked normal. I called my fiancé, Sandra, and told her she could come pick me up, that I’d be ready to go soon. Then everything changed.

It felt like a wave came over me, and all of a sudden there was a team prepping me to go to the heart catheterization lab. As I was being hooked up, I texted Sandra: “I’ve gotten worse. I love you.”

The next thing I remember is waking up. Sandra and the doctor were there. The doctor told me I was stabilized, and a helicopter would be taking me to Washington because I needed open heart surgery.

It was only at this minute that we learned AAMC doesn’t perform heart surgery. It was unnerving, especially given what happened next.

There wasn’t availability for me yet in Washington, so I had to remain under constant surveillance for three hours. If my condition had gotten worse, I probably wouldn’t have made it.

Thankfully, I did make it to the hospital, where doctors performed a six-way heart bypass surgery on me. During recovery, the trip from Annapolis to Washington was hectic for Sandra and my family. It greatly added to the stress of the situation. I felt guilty putting her through all the pain and anxiety.

We feel lucky, knowing things could have ended very differently. No one should have to go through what we did.

After cardiac rehab at AAMC, I’m doing great. I quit smoking, see my doctor regularly, and enjoy spending quality time with Sandra, my kids and grandkids.

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