Walk this way: From golf to bypass surgery and back
One of Warren Stewart’s annual Christmas cards show him with his wife, Nancy, standing in front of the Sentara Heart Hospital sign.
“Every year for the past 30 years, I’ve selected a photo that depicts a significant event in my life for that year to update my family and friends,” the 61-year-old Norfolk resident explains. “That year, there was nothing more significant than my heart treatment at Sentara.”
While walking and playing golf, the retired school superintendent experienced tenseness in his chest and difficulty breathing. He called his Sentara primary care physician, who sent him for tests. A heart catheterization showed four blocked arteries. He was immediately admitted into Sentara Heart Hospital, where he underwent a quadruple bypass (where surgeons take segments of healthy blood vessels from another part of the body to detour around the blocked parts of the four arteries).
The surgery was a success.
“I was comfortable. The staff wasn’t worried, so I wasn’t worried,” Warren says. “They were kind, so I felt good.”
After an amazingly short hospital stay of only three days, Warren was home recovering and walking every day.
“I work hard at staying in shape, and I went into the surgery healthy,” he explains. “That, combined with the expertise of my doctors, made it so smooth.”
Even before Warren’s pain occurred, he was no stranger to heart disease. His father died from a heart attack at age 35, and his mother suffered six heart attacks. Because of an earlier injury to his carotid artery, Warren sees his primary care physician regularly. He describes his experience with the Sentara staff in three words: caring, competent and committed.
“Their high level of competence was obvious. Their caring showed, and that really made a difference,” he explains. “And I felt their commitment in every interaction.”
Warren is breathing easier. His physicians told him he’ll be around an extra 20 years, and he plans on spending time volunteering and giving back to the community.
“I’ve always felt that good things operate from the heart,” Warren says. “Before, I used to do good things with a good heart, and now I can do many more things with an even better heart. I’m grateful for that.”