This story and photo are reprinted with permission of the Highland Lakes Newspapers.
Straight from the heart
By Lance Reaves, Highland Lakes Newspapers
David Richison has always maintained a healthy and active lifestyle, which is why his sudden fatigue in late 2013 came as quite a surprise.
“I was painting the boathouse, and I had to carry some scaffolding out there to get out over the water. When I was carrying it back, it seemed like either I was getting old or I was really bad out of shape,” he said.
The Kingsland resident considered jogging again to help rebuild his stamina. However, as a precaution, he decided to first schedule an appointment at the Ascension Seton Kingsland Healthcare Center. This facility had just opened one week prior, near his home.
After consultation with a cardiac team specialist, Richison was told he had a low-risk profile. Due to his reporting some abnormal symptoms, however, Dr. Vincent Gouxreferred him to the Ascension Seton Heart Institute at the Ascension Seton Highland Lakes Specialty Clinic, just to be safe.
After initially receiving a similar diagnosis, Richison said one last test made the difference.
“(The doctor) said if you want to be 100 percent sure, take a stress test, and I said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do it,’ ” he said. “And then I failed the stress test.”
The 69-year-old was found to have coronary artery disease. He underwent coronary artery bypass grafting at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin shortly thereafter.
Following 10 days in the hospital without complications, Richison returned home to his wife.
Without the convenient, viable option for his critical care cardiology, Richison believes the consequences could have been severe.
“I never had a family doctor because they’re all so busy,” he said, “so I probably would have just started jogging and then probably had a heart attack out on the street.”
Charlie Fox-Simpson, acute care nurse practitioner at Ascension Seton Heart Institute, said Richison’s attention to his symptoms and early detection played essential roles in preventing such a tragic event.
“Highly reliable health care delivery and convenient access for all types of heart conditions are available to all residents of the Highland Lakes Region,” she said. “Our mission inspires us to care for and improve the health of those we serve, with a special concern for the poor and vulnerable.”
With February as American Heart Month, Richison appreciates his good fortune as he embarks on the road to recovery.
“I’m progressing,” he said. “I’m going to therapy classes in Burnet, and that’s been really helpful because I think everybody that comes out of surgery is a little nervous about how much stress can be put on your heart.”
He attends these therapy classes twice per week in Burnet, just 15 minutes from his house, where he grades his treatment as “A-First Class.”