By Emma Kennedy
When Sam Murphy had his second heart attack, he didn’t have shortness of breath, nor did his arm feel tingly.
In fact, he didn’t even know he’d had the first one years before.
There was nothing but a pain in his right shoulder he attributed to chronic spinal problems, and it stayed for three days before he acted on it.
But it was in fact a heart attack, and doctors later told him he was lucky he’d driven himself to Hardin Memorial Hospital at 3 a.m., or he may not be the active, lively man he now is.
Murphy now completes physical therapy work at HMH’s cardiopulmonary rehab clinic and sees his doctor regularly at Central Cardiology Associates.
He’s one of the patients who could benefit from a merger of the clinic that happened Friday which brings CCA under the HMH banner.
It’s the first clinic takeover for HMH this year, and aims to bring seamlessness to service.
For Murphy, it just means everyone’s in the loop with his cardio care.
He’s been in rehab for a month now after the April heart attack where he was forced to stay home and rest for three weeks — something difficult for a self-professed workaholic who usually was on the job as a machinist or mechanic 13 hours a day.
“I don’t feel like I ever had a heart attack. I feel better now than I did 20 years ago,” he said.
Murphy is in therapy close to an hour two or three times a week at the clinic, working on a treadmill, exercise bike or another cardiovascular machine to increase his strength again.
In a month, he’s gone from doing six minutes straight to 13, so he’s getting there, Murphy said.
“I’m a guy that works 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week and to go to sitting, not doing anything, it wasn’t good,” he said. “But now they’ve got me back to doing pretty much anything I want to do.”
Murphy classifies his case as miraculous, as he’s had two heart attacks and didn’t ever experience of the well-known symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain.
When he arrived at HMH, they went straight into testing and told him he had two blockages in his arteries, but he didn’t need any stents as his heart had grown new arteries around the blockages, effectively bypassing itself.
“The whole time they were fooling with me I kept saying, ‘That’s not what’s wrong with me. There’s something else going on.’ I’d have bet big money that I wasn’t having a heart attack,” he said. “It was a wake up call though. It was a blessing that it worked out the way it did.”
Murphy said he had put off going to the doctor, brushing it off as something that would heal itself and also afraid of what he would face.
“I don’t know that it would’ve killed me but it would’ve done enough damage that I wouldn’t be in the shape I’m in now — it would be damage that’s irreparable,” he said. “I felt like it was nothing, it would pass and life would go on but that’s not always the case. It pays to be cautious and a lot of people don’t do that.”
Clinic registered nurse Denise Horvath said most of the patients take more recovery time and rehabilitation than Murphy, but the merger of the two businesses will be beneficial for the back-and-forth that comes with that.
Patients attend the clinic as a prescription — just like a drug — from their physician.
They receive 36 visits with their prescription and most of the roughly 200 patients visit two to three times a week.
Many are elderly, and use the physical therapy time to catch up with friends, walk around the small indoor track or use the gym-type machines such as treadmills.
Patients won’t need to be referred only from Central Cardiology Associates though, and can be prescribed their rehabilitation treatment from any doctor.
Horvath said for many, it’s also an emotional support system for patients to have a professional there to encourage them and show them what to do and how to do it for their best therapy.
While Murphy considers himself a special case with relatively low repercussions from his heart attack, he said he will continue his therapy.
“It’s amazing how fast your body can rebuild itself with the right care and somebody watching you to make sure you’re not doing too much,” he said.
Emma Kennedy can be reached at 270-505-1746 or email@example.com.