LeMoyne Exstrom said he had no idea he was having a heart attack, but is very grateful others recognized it and did something about it.
On Oct. 26, the 72 year old had followed his usual morning routine of walking the 1.4 miles to the Cozy Inn from his home for coffee and a visit with his friends. Once at the Cozy, Mr. Exstrom said he doesn't remember anything, including hanging up his coat or sitting in the booth.
He collapsed and his coffee buddies called 911, and began to administer CPR. Mr. Exstrom credits Jim Johnson, Mike Larsen, Bill Johnson, Dennis Nelson, Dean Hill and others with saving his life. He said he learned later that Holdrege Police Chief DaMoude showed up quickly with the AED, which he used, and the Holdrege Unit and Phelps Memorial Unit were on the scene within ten minutes of being called.
"You know, I don’t remember any of this," he admits. "But I give credit to each one of them, including the Cozy staff."
He was taken to Phelps Memorial Health Center where he was stabilized and then airlifted to the Kearney hospital. He had cardiac surgery there and received two stints.
"It is really amazing that they got the stints into me. All I have is a pinprick in my wrist and those two stints are in arteries in my heart," he said.
On November 10, Mr. Exstrom transferred to Holdrege Memorial Homes, which he said is a wonderful place.
"I got occupational and physical therapy at Memorial Homes," he said. "They got me back to moving around."
After Thanksgiving, he went home and soon started at the Phelps Memorial Health Center Cardiac Rehabilitation.
"These gals at Cardiac Rehab are second to none," Mr. Exstrom said. “They really get you to working there. I have lost around 25 pounds and really feel good.
"Janell Huston, Jenny Spaulding, Renee Johnson, Laurie Hohman and Ashton Thorell all care a lot about their patients. They keep track of everything and keep you on track. I do machines, bikes, treadmill, nu track, and stretches," he said. "I also saw Karen Bunnell, the dietician at the hospital, to learn about a healthier diet. Now we read lots of labels and really watch what we eat.
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WORKING OUT AT CARDIAC REHABILITATION: The Cardiac Rehab patients feel confidence and caring when they begin working out to build their hearts back up. Pictured here, heart patient LeMoyne Exstrom is on the recumbent bicycle, while Janell Huston, RN, and Ashton Thorell monitor his heart rate, determine his exercises and watch to make sure he is making advances in his strengthening.
He said he also goes to the YMCA to walk and try to walk 40 minutes a day, which is about the same as the walk to the Cozy Inn and back home.
"I have a family history, including a grandfather and my dad who both died at 53," he said. "My five year old son died of a congenital heart defect and I lost a brother to heart disease. Without the advancements in medicine and technology, I might not have been around to tell this story."
"You can't tell today that anything every happened to me," he said. "I feel great. One gal at church said that she only sees me once a week, but that I look better each week."
"I feel like what happened to me really was a miracle. Everybody in the community stepped up and everything that happened made a difference," Mr. Exstrom said.