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3 Days, 3 Hospitals, I Am Alive, Find Out Which Was Best

How It All Started

This House Needed Some TLC
This House Needed Some TLC
It all started when I decided to help my neighbor across the street. You can read my article about neighbors helping neighbors.  This young couple purchased the house and thought they could flip it and make some money, they had done some others and lost on some and made on the others, but this one was the last one for them.

They ran out of money in the renovation and it still needed some work and a lot of TLC.  As you will read in the article I stepped up to the plate and offered my help.  There was still something missing from the front of their home, it was the shutters around the front windows. The two windows just looked so bare, like a photo hanging on a wall without the frame.

I had been after them for some while to add them, especially since they had them in their garage from their previous home investments.  But alas they never thought it was that important.  I decided to just do it for them and purchased a couple of cans of spray paint, painted them the beautiful rich deep red that we see on many homes doors and shutters and installed them one morning.

Adding Shutters Made A Diference
Adding Shutters Made A Diference

The day I installed them was not a good one for me. I just couldn’t get to sleep the night before and pulled an all nighter. Worked on this website and figured I would be OK.  After installing the painted shutters, I decided to mow my lawn.

After all it was still early in the day and wasn’t too hot.  Since the owners were going to be out-of-town they asked if I could mow their lawn as well and I agreed.  I just don’t know how to say no.

I began to weedwack their lawn that was more weed than grass, than began to mow.  By the time I was done I was ready to pass out because the weeds were so high. I bagged the cuttings in five 55 gallon plastic bags.  Took them over to my house in a wheel barrow, they were really heavy. I than dumped a couple of them in my garbage, took the other three to my wife’s office and was able to dispose of them in her dumpster.

I Knew I Was In Trouble

That night I started to feel a tightness in my chest, some shallow breathing and some aches, but never gave a thought that it might be a coronary issue.  The next day still not feeling great, called the doctor who was able to see me that day.  EKG was OK, but he explained from the symptoms it was a heart issue but he would treat me as an outpatient for now and send me for a chest x-ray that day at Bayshore Hospital.  I made an appointment to see my cardiologist Dr. George Younan who could only see me the following week, nothing sooner.

The following day, Wednesday I wasn’t feeling well in the morning and called my wife at her office and asked her to come home and take me to the hospital.  I did some searching on the web to see which was the best in our area for cardiology and Jersey Shore Medical Center came to the top.

All of our local hospitals and many medical practices are now owned by Meridian Health and my choice was Jersey Shore, Riverview in Red Bank and Bayshore about a mile from my home. I decided that the best hospital in our area was Jersey Shore, after all it was not only voted as one of the 50 most beautiful hospitals in America, it had a full cardiology center that could do any necessary open heart and other surgeries.  Why not go to the best, I thought.

On Our Way To Jersey Shore

Located in Neptune, New Jersey, the Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC) has been given numerous awards including the International Health Project at the design and Health International
Located in Neptune, New Jersey, the Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC) has been given numerous awards including the International Health Project at the design and Health International

My wife and I got in the car, I wasn’t feeling any real pain just a bit strange and drove down to Jersey Shore Medical Center, took about 20 minutes to get there on the GSP.  We got to the Emergency Room and I told them I was having chest pain, saw my doctor and brought my EKG with me from the other day.

They advised me there would be a wait before anyone could see me, the ER was quite busy and it could be an hour or longer. We decided to wait, I wasn’t in pain.  After an hour, they called me into the actual ER area, we were in the waiting room all that time.

jersey shore erThey took another EKG and it didn’t show anything, but they often won’t.  An EKG won’t show how your heart is working under stress and won’t show a clogged artery.

We waited and waited and waited and after three hours and nothing was being done, I decided to check out.  They told me it might take another hour or longer before a doctor would see me.  They were overrun and couldn’t handle the load of patients coming into their ER.  They had drunks cursing and one was actually handcuffed to the gurney.

I realized I made the wrong decision going there.  If I had listened to the advice of friends and called 911 I would have gone to Jersey Shore. I would have arrived by ambulance and they would have taken me in immediately.  Because I wasn’t having an attack at that time, I never thought to do this.  Word to the wise..call 911 if you have the symptoms.

Out in the parking lot I called the Monmouth Cardiology Associates and set up an appointment for the following day to see one of their doctors.  Still feeling OK at this point.

I Thought I Was Having A Heart Attack

911We got home and my lawn needed to be cut. As you may know I love gardening and have a rich lush lawn. My wife had never cut the lawn, ever in 40 years and I told her it was time she learned in the event anything happened to me.  I began the lessons and walked with her around the lawn and emptied some of the bags in the garbage.

I went in the house and realized I was in trouble.  I broke out in a cold sweat, I had tremendous pain in my chest and my back and my right arm.  I was on the phone with a friend who told me to call 911 and get to the hospital. I explained we were close and that I could wait until tomorrow and see the doctor.  He insisted over and over, CALL 911 NOW, don’t be a jerk. I promised I would go to the hospital.  Calling down to my wife, “Honey I need to go to the hospital” her reply, I have to do a few emails, I yelled louder, “You Don’t Understand I have to go now, I think I am having a heart attack”.

Racing To Bayshore Hospital

Bayshore Hosp. - 4We felt it would be faster to drive over, it only takes 4 minutes and calling 911 would have taken longer.  We pulled into the Ambulance door at the ER and I told my wife to get out and tell them “My husband is having a heart attack”  I got out of the car and into a wheel chair and than onto a gurney where they administered oxygen, took an EKG which was not normal now and into the emergency room.

Before I knew it nurses, doctors and others were around me taking care of me.  Two IV’s into my right hand, it hurt :-).  Oxygen to my nose, wires all around my chest to monitor my heart and a visit from Dr.Richards who works for a company that handles my regular doctors patients when they go to the hospital.  No longer does the doctor actually visit his patients in the hospital. Big corporations like Meridian have found a better way.

Dr. Yu the attending physician that night in the ER told me that my symptoms were typical for Angina.  This is a heart condition when the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood.  It is usually a symptom of coronary heart disease and is the narrowing of the artery to the heart.

AT 11;30 PM I was finally moved to a room. Frankly, I was fine in the ER.  Lots of attention, television set and I was now stabilized.  During that night I was awakened every three hours as the IV’s delivered Heparin which is an anticoagulant so I wouldn’t experience any clotting that could lead to a stroke.

They drew blood a few times, monitored me carefully through the night. I forgot my nurses name but she was wonderful. The team at Bayshore was the best I have seen in years.  The attention I received was 5 stars all the way and I felt I had made the right choice.  Of course if Jersey Shore was on their game I would have been there.

stent
Stent Placement

The next morning I was told that there was leakage in my heart and it was more than likely that there was blockage in my artery. They said my cardiologist Dr. Shaddy Younan would could come there to do a cardiac catheterization which would confirm what they already knew, but couldn’t do the procedure and place a stent if necessary .

So now the plan was to move me to Riverview Hospital in Red Bank where they could check to see the damage and insert the stent if necessary.  What they didn’t tell me was the Riverview was not authorized to do open heart surgery which could be necessary if I needed bypass surgery, but from all the tests they were sure that wouldn’t be the case.

Riverview Medical Center
Riverview Medical Center

So once again we were off to Hospital number 3, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.  Into the ambulance for the short but bumpy ride to Riverview. On arrival their team was ready to prep me for the procedure.  Than to the operating room where I was told I would receive a light anetectic and I would be awake but wouldn’t feel any pain.  As soon as they added it to my IV, I was out like a light 🙂

I awoke in the intensive care unit at Riverview and was greeted by their pleasant staff. My nurse and her assistant would take care of me through the night, administering necessary meds to thin my blood and make sure it didn’t clot.  Many people who go for this procedure go as an outpatient and go home the same day, but I needed to stay because this was an emergency.

Now generally I don’t like hospital food, but I was so hungry, I didn’t remember the last time I ate that the Tuna fish on a half peta with lettuce and tomato and a bowl of chicken soup with real chicken and noodles tasted so good.

I was to be released the following day, a Saturday. My wife came to visit early and take me home, but unfortunately my cardiologist the brother of Shaddy, Zayed Younan would be the one that would sign the release and give me my prescriptions.  We waited and waited and I became a bit of a pest asking my nurse, when will the doctor arrive.  By 3 PM, I wanted out and wanted to go home, but he still wasn’t there and no one knew when he would arrive.

zyad-younan
Dr. Zayed Younan

Finally at around 4:30 PM, he did arrive and when he came to my bed he went to shake my hand and I refused, I think he thought I was angry, instead I asked him to bring it in and give me a hug. I was so happy to see him and knew he was the brother who just saved my life and the son of my cardiologist who I have seen over the years.

Sayed was great and explained he had 40 patients to see at Bayshore and another hospital he also covers and Riverview was his last stop of the day and I was the only patient there. This family of cardiologists are so busy, father George should have had more children :-).  Mother Younan also helps out in the office as well.

Going Home

Shaddy & George-2
Drs. Shaddy and father George Younan- Click to Enlarge…

Well, we said our goodbyes and I apologized to the two wonderful nurses that took care of me and thought I was a real pain that day and started to joke with them.  I gave everyone a big hug and we drove home.

I ran to Shoprite the next day, Sunday to fill the prescriptions because I had to take my meds immediately. They had given me a few pills to take home to carry me over to the next day.  Now it is about 5 days since I entered Bayshore Hospital and I am feeling so much better.

I realize now after speaking to friends and relatives that also have stents, some with 5 or 6, that I will be able to resume my normal activities in a short while, so I am happy I had this done.  For a long time I knew something was wrong with me, my hands were always swollen and although I didn’t have Angina I did feel tired at times and wondered what could be wrong.

Final Words and Advice

I learned a lot from this experience.  Here are some of the things I have learned that I would like to pass on to my readers.

If your diet is full of carbs and fat and you are overweight, STOP and take control of what you are doing.  You are headed for a heart issue or diabetes or worse.  I had lost 40 pounds about 5 years ago and was down to a 34″ waist and two years ago slipped back to old eating habits and gained 20 pounds back.  I have already lost 8 pounds, 12 more to go.

My Trip To Africa - I was in good shape then.
My Trip To Africa – I was in good shape then.

Have your doctor run blood tests and see what your cholesterol and triglycerides are. If they are high, he will recommend a statin medication that will help control it and will also suggest a healthy diet and exercise.  My numbers were so good on my diet that my triglycerides came down from 280 in three months to 88.  My doctor simply couldn’t believe it.

If you are on a statin medication, stay on it, even if your numbers are good. I was stupid and stopped taking mine and reverted to my old eating habits and I am sure that is why I had the blockage in my artery.  They are finding that these statin drugs are a great way to stop the build up of plague in your arteries and will also remove any that is there.

Follow your doctors orders.  I loved my doctor, Dr. Lehaf, who is now semi-retired and works at Bayshore because he was tough with me and honest.  I remember before I went on my diet he said to me in his accent “Leonard you are too fat. You need to lose weight or I will start you on diabetes medication” That was my Ah-Ha-Moment. He gave me a sheet of paper on one side it said Low triglyceride Diet, on the other side Low Cholesterol Diet.  It didn’t really have a diet, but it did tell me what to avoid.

I cut out any foods that were white.  Rice, potato’s, white bread of any kind and began to eat other veggies and multigrain breads, pasta and other foods.  I was never a big beef eater, so that wasn’t a problem and began to eat and like fish. Chicken and fish became my main protein source and I tried to get three meals in a day.

In three months I had dropped 25 pounds, yes, 25 pounds and I felt great.  Visited Dr. Lehaf and when he turned around to see me he couldn’t believe it was me.  He was so happy for me and congratulated me on my accomplishment.  He had never seen numbers like mine from my blood test and told me in all his years of practicing medicine he never saw the Triglyceride levels go down 200 points.

I kept on the diet and hit my treadmill with a fast walk, knee problems kept me from jogging, and dropped another 20 pounds in three more months. Forty pounds in 6 months just cutting out certain foods and not having to go to meetings or buy TV Style frozen dinners.  It really wasn’t hard to make the right choices even in restaurants.

I had lost weight so fast that many people thought I was sick…you know Cancer, but I assured them it was just my diet.  I was a bit too thin and actually had to gain a little back so my face looked normal.

I kept the weight off for about three years and began to slip back into old habits. I wanted to lose weight again, but couldn’t get back into the groove until now.

This was a wake up call for me and I hope those that have read this entire article will be moved by it and it will be your wake up call too.

Army008As I young man, I kept myself in good shape. At 19 I was a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard, during the Vietnam War.  As I aged I tried to maintain my weight and always had a battle doing it.  So I do understand the challenges.  Now that I am older, I realize the importance of doing so.

Len-Rap-Avatar-300X300
Me, Happy To Be Alive

I keep telling people who I might look good for my age on the outside, I am almost 72, but most people don’t believe it, I have good genetics and my skin is nice and tight for an old guy, but feel 100  years old on the inside.  I have had a number of surgeries from 10 hand surgeries, to Achilles tendon, orthosopic knee surgery, cervical spine surgery, lower back surgery and other conditions, but I feel good and look good and love being active in my garden and in my home . I hope now I can continue to enjoy my friends, family and wonderful grandchildren for many years to come.  After all my father lived to 93, my aunt is now 96, so who knows, you may be reading my articles for years to come.

Don’t take your health for granted and by all means try to take care of yourself.  For me, I understand the importance of watching myself now that I am older and parts start to wear out, but I do want to be around to now only enjoy my family but to continue my quest to help others through my writings and my deeds.

I know that not everyone will understand why I reach out to people and have always helped others when I could, it was just the way I was brought up.  The Hazlet News and this project is completely funded by me and I will continue to try to educate and advise my readers on how to improve their lives too.

Update On This Article 

Unfortunately I had to change my cardiologist because trying to visit Dr. Younan for a follow-up was not a pleasant experience.  His office is located in Parlin, NJ about a 15 minute ride north from Hazlet.  He can only see patients after his days rounds at the hospitals, so appointments generally start from 4:30 PM to around 8:00 PM.  The office is not run properly and when you arrive for your appointment the small waiting room is filled, usually standing room only.

It takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours or more for you to be seen.  Everyone is complaining about the wait, but all believe Dr. Younan is a good doctor as I do.  On my follow-up I got my blood pressure taken, and he listened to my heart with a stethoscope.  Everything was OK and I left.  My entire visit lasted 10-15 minutes, but I waited 2 hours.  By the time I got out of the office it was after 9 PM, I was tired and hungry.  He could have had a doctors assistant or a nurse practitioner do what he did.  Than he could have just walked in the room, looked at the numbers and asked how I felt. I don’t think they know how to manage their time, it was certainly not efficient.

I called again to set up my next appointment and they asked if I could arrive early around 4:45 PM that day. I thought I would be in and out fast.  Not so, once again I waited 90 minutes, kept asking the receptionist how much longer and told them I would be leaving if I wasn’t going to be taken soon.  I waited another 15 minutes and that was it, I had it and I left.

I think the problem with the Younan Group is they can’t manage their office properly.  It is a family owned practice, mother Younan runs the office, she has to be in her 70’s or older I would imagine and there is not enough concern for their patients comfort or time.

Monmouth Cardiology

I now use another cardiologist Dr. Matt Bach at Monmouth Cardiology.  Before making the appointment, I explained my past problems to their receptionist and she assured me it would not happen with Dr. Bach.  I am happy to say, they run an efficient office, he was wonderful, waited 15 minutes to see him and went back for a Nuclear Stress Test and it went smoothly, he called me with the results, I feel this is how an office should be run and felt as if I was a value patient.

All doctors should respect their patients and never schedule more patients than they can handle.  If there is a delay and the doctor had an emergency than the office should call patients to let them know.  If the doctor is so backed up, then they didn’t give him enough time for each patient when they booked the appointments.

Medical practices allow a certain amount of time which they call a “slot” for each appointment.  Some will run longer, some less.  I did try one other doctor and on my first visit I waited an hour and a half and told them to cancel the appointment and rip up my forms, I was leaving.  The office manager came to talk to me and told me that they usually give this doctor a 15 minute slot, but he tends to talk to patients and runs long.  I asked her why not give him a 20-25 minute slot instead of having people wait so long.  She explained that is how the practice works.  Again poor management.

I believe the reason the huge medical companies like Meridian Health that now owns many hospitals and practices in New Jersey is because they can do it better.  Sorry Younan Cardiology, I was glad you were there for me when I needed you, but you let me and other patients down in your offices.

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About lenrapp

I am the president of the International Press Association and the publisher of IMPress Magazine. As a working photojournalist and videographer, I cover many events in the New York and New Jersey area for our publications. I am looking forward to our newest publication the Hazlet Times that will be a publication meant to showcase the things I love in Hazlet and those that might need some improvements.

One comment

  1. Happy to hear your OK. I had similar experience at Jersey Shore would never go there again!

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