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Scared to Death, Waking Up to Life | Jon’s Story

Scared to Death, Waking Up to Life | Jon’s Story

Jon Handy awoke suddenly at 4 a.m. on February 20, 2016, with intense chest pain and shortness of breath. He knew something wasn’t right.

Scared to death, his wife, Gretchen, rushed him to Altru’s emergency room, while his 20-year-old daughter called 911 on the way. Altru’s ER staff was ready and prepared to act upon his arrival.

“They immediately hooked me up to an EKG,” explains Jon. “And, the rest was a blur.”

The EKG found nothing to be wrong with his heart. Next was a CT scan, which revealed fluid surrounding Jon’s heart.

Dr. Aboufakher’s bedside manner was incredible. He explained issues so clearly, giving me complete confidence,” shares Jon. “He had to put a needle in my heart, which provided immediate relief.”

After the extra fluid drained, Jon went upstairs for recovery.

By Monday, Jon was relieved of his symptoms and found it had been a viral infection attacking the lining of his heart. That night, he was free to get out of bed and move around. Yet, when he got up to use the restroom, his heart went into atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. His nurse reacted immediately, and Dr. Aboufakher was in soon after to check everything. Jon’s heart was shocked back into regular rhythm, and Dr. Aboufakher reassured Jon that this was normal after the procedure he had done.

A Wake-Up Call

At 55 years old, Jon’s an average male. He explains, “Other than having my routine colonoscopy, I hadn’t seen my primary care provider, Dr. Jamie Roed, for a few years. Now, I’m sticking to regular visits to take better care of myself. This was a wake-up call. Regular maintenance is so important.”

“I understand customer service,” says Jon, who works as the customer segment manager at Alerus. “All my caregivers were terrific. They had quick responses—even for little things, like fresh linens—and were always making sure I was comfortable. The care was world-class, from the emergency room to discharge. We don’t realize it until we need it, but we’re fortunate to have medical care like this in Grand Forks.”

Looking ahead, Jon has peace of mind as he continues seeing Drs. Roed and Aboufakher. He is keeping his regular follow-up appointments and trying to be more active.

“An episode like this helps you understand what’s important in life,” explains Jon. “For me, that’s my wife, daughter and son. I want to stay healthy for them.”