“I Survived Blocked Arteries”
Recently, Richard Pippin polished off a bucket of balls at the driving range, went a few holes and finally finished a full round of golf. Not bad for someone who once couldn’t get enough energy to haul his clubs to the car.
How It All Began
“I was getting worse, getting weaker,” says Richard Pippin, now 71. He sought the advice of a local specialist who performed a cardiac catheterization and told Pippin nothing could be done. The valves of his heart were fragile and compromised by previous surgery; an operation now would be too risky.
Undaunted — and desperate to find help for his crippling fatigue — Pippin circled back with his primary care physician, Dr. Indira Veerisetty. Pippin, in recent years, had returned with his wife to Mississippi after a 35-year career with the Federal Aviation Administration. A retirement of “feeling pretty bad” was not what he had planned.
The Turning Point
Dr. Veerisetty suggested Pippin seek the advice of St. Dominic’s Mississippi Heart Insititue Cardiologist Dr. Michael McMullan, and the trajectory of Pippin’s life changed forever.
Results of the cardiac catheterization showed blockages of 95% to 98% in four arteries. By this time, a short workout at a cardiac rehab center left him gasping. His body was starved for oxygen.
“It was just one piece of plaque from a major heart attack,” Pippin says.
In reviewing Pippin’s medical history, Dr. McMullan saw more than the discouraging results of the original cardiac cath. He saw a once-healthy man laid low. He told Pippin he believed he and the team at St. Dominic Hospital could help.
“It’s miserable just being half alive. It wasn’t a 100% blockage – if there’s a chance I can improve someone’s quality of life, I’m willing to give it a chance,” Dr. McMullan says.
In a single procedure, Dr. McMullan performed a thrombectomy to remove the clots and opened the arteries with four stents.
Pippin did not know Dr. McMullan before becoming his patient, but in the moments before surgery, the physician reached out and made their relationship personal.
“We had prayer together before we went back into surgery,” Pippin remembers. “This is one thing I’ll respect him for always.”
Recovery and Life After Open Heart Surgery
The operation was a success, but the treatment was not over. Consultation with fellow Cardiologist Dr. David Mulholland confirmed Pippin needed a second operation to adjust his implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, which was performed about a month later.
About 18 months after the surgeries, Pippin is now punching through the stations at cardiac rehab without a thought of needing oxygen assist. And he’s not worried about making it to the golf course, but about making par.
“My handicap is in the 90s, but I think shooting in the double digits is pretty good, don’t you?”