Charles City couple thanks FCMC staff for lifesaving work
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]
If you’re going to have a massive heart attack, have it in a hospital.
Two weeks ago, Dale Nicholson was taking down the outdoor Christmas lights at his Charles City home.
“I got done and I came in the house a little bit, and my chest started kind of hurting and I started sweating really bad, so I told the wife, ‘I think you better take me out to the emergency room.’”
They went to the Floyd County Medical Center Emergency Department, and Nicholson had just been asked to take off his coat and shirt and sit down on a bed, “and that’s the last I knew. That was it,” he said.
Nicholson, who is 68, would ultimately suffer what is referred to as a “widowmaker” heart attack, when there’s a blockage to the artery that supplies blood to the heart.
Dale’s wife, Connie, said at first she was told by Dr. Clay Hallberg, the doctor on duty in the ER, that Dale had suffered a minor heart attack but that he was being given medication, was stable, and they were getting him ready to be transported to a hospital with a higher level of cardiac care.
“He went back in and about three, four minutes later they had a code, and I’m assuming that was the widowmaker heart attack,” Connie said.
“He basically died. They worked on him for 20 minutes to get him back,” she said.
“I guess they shocked me 10 to 12 times. I’m lucky I’m here. He didn’t give up on me,” Dale said, referring to Dr. Hallberg.
Connie said Hallberg came out to talk to her again and she wasn’t sure what the news was going to be. She had heard the call for “Code Blue, Emergency Room 1,” she said, and knew what that meant.
“He told me that the minute that his heart started beating again that he had a seizure, so they were going to work on that a little while longer to get that all under control and they had called for life flight to come get him and take him to Mason,” she said.
A report from the medical center said the ER team performed lifesaving measures for more than an hour, including CPR, medications, multiple defibrillations and intubation, until Nicholson was stabilized and able to be transported.
Nicholson was flown by Aid Med to MercyOne-North Iowa in Mason City, where he was taken to the cardiac catheterization lab.
They found that he had a blockage in what they call the widowmaker artery, Connie said. “That’s the heart attack he had, was the widowmaker. They cleared it out and put a stent in and he spent a week in CCU.”
Dale was released last Tuesday, and on Friday was back out at the Floyd County Medical Center to have some blood work done.
The person at the front desk, Brandi, was the same person who had been in the emergency room when they had come in before.
“She looked at us both, and she looked at me again, and I go, ‘Yup,’” Connie said, acknowledging they were the ones she had seen earlier.
“When he coded she came out and sat with me, because I was by myself,” Connie said. “It wasn’t a good moment. Not when you know what that means, ‘Code Blue, Emergency Room 1.’”
Several of the staff who had helped treat Dale gathered for a group photo Friday, which FCMC then shared with the Press.
Dale said he is on several different medications now, and he’s wearing a cardiac LifeVest, which monitors his heart and is capable of automatically delivering a defibrillating shock if needed.
“That’s temporarily, hopefully, that I’m wearing that,” he said, adding that he thinks he will be starting therapy next Monday.
Dale and Connie both count their blessings that they acted quickly to go to the Floyd County Medical Center, and Connie praised the county for having the facility available.
She also praised the staff, especially Dr. Hallberg.
“It was a good place to have it happen, and they did not give up on him. I give that doctor all the credit in the world, because he could have died,” she said.
“There ain’t no way I can repay him,” Dale added.