It was December 29th, 2016. Luke had what he describes as a “normal heavy workout in the gym,” at his apartment, went shopping and came home to make dinner for his son and himself.  He experienced discomfort throughout the night.  He was very restless and didn’t sleep in bed but rather remained in his Lazy Boy .  The following morning he wasn’t feeling any better.  In fact, he noticed that his jaw, teeth and right shoulder were also aching.  He thought maybe he was coming down with flu. He told his son that he didn’t feel well enough to drive himself to Overlake Urgent Care in Redmond, Washington and asked if he would take him.  When they arrived at the Urgent Care, the care team there did an EKG and advised him that he needed to go to the Emergency Room immediately.  They suggested that they should call an aide car. He told them that would have his son drop him by there on his way back to their apartment.

Once they arrived at the Emergency Room, the ER doctor ordered another EKG, and a blood test and diagnosed him with having a heart attack.  He was immediately rushed into the Catheter Lab for an Angiogram procedure.  The Cardiologist went in through his groin and after completing his assessment, advised that his condition was too advanced for a stent to be successful and that he would need to have a coronary bypass performed. 

He was held in ICU awaiting surgery while the doctors were working to stabilize him before moving him into the operating room.  And finally, on January 4, 2017, less than a month before his 69th birthday, he was given a Triple Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG x3).  His surgery was performed by Dr. Nelson, who he credits as the best heart surgeon in the Seattle area. 

Sometime, either during his surgery or shortly afterwards, he suffered a stroke. When he came to in ICU, he could hear the voices of people around him.  He recognized his son’s voice and heard doctors conversing.  They seemed excited when they saw him move his fingers on his left hand. He was even able to raise his left arm. They asked him to move his toes on his left foot and he could move them as well.  But he was unable to move his left leg. He was confined to his bed for three days before he was able to stand.  They provided him a device to lean against, put a belt around him to help him balance. When he first stood, he walked to the door of his room and back to the bed.  So, afterward confirming that he could use his left leg, it was determined that he would need a stroke rehab facility. Since Overlake Hospital did not have a stroke rehab they transferred his care to Evergreen Hospital. He was originally scheduled to be in rehab for 30 days but got released early and allowed to return home on his 69th, birthday, January 28, 2017.

Luke had a history of high cholesterol (>200 HDL) for 10 to 12 years prior to his heart attack and he worked to control it with exercise.  Then approximately 1-2 years before his surgery, he was placed on a statin.  He never smoked, wasn’t obese or diabetic.  He didn’t have any chronic high blood pressure and only began on blood pressure medication about a year before his surgery.  He was given a Stress Test at age 65 and was told he had an equivalent age of 39.  He did have a family history of heart disease.  Both his parents had under gone Coronary Bypass Surgery. His mother underwent bypass surgery in her early 70’s and passed away at age 88.  His dad had his first coronary bypass surgery at 70 and a second one about 10 years later.  He passed away at 82. He has two brothers and three sisters, but only one of his sisters has a known heart condition.

In addition to recovering from his heart attack and stroke, he has low risk prostate cancer.  While he has regained a lot of the use he once had with his left side, he still has a ways to go to fully recover.  He is exploring stem cell research and anticipates undergoing a procedure outside of the U.S., that will fully restore his health by giving him full function of his left side and treat his prostate cancer as well.  We originally interviewed Luke on May 9, 2018, and hope to update his progress in the not to distant future.

 

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