“Mercy Health’s ‘Brain and Heart Plumbers’ Saved My Life”

At his age, 38-year-old Michael Putnam never expected to have both a heart attack and stroke in five days’ time, but beginning on October 30, 2018, that’s what happened.

Following his Tuesday night routine of bowling with his team, Putnam didn’t feel well. When he went home, his symptoms included nausea and vomiting — along with back and chest pain. As the week progressed, Putnam began to feel better and was able to keep down food and liquids.

“On Saturday night, my girlfriend, her son and I were watching TV. She noticed that I was making strange sounds, that my skin was clammy, and that my face was drooping. That’s when she called 9-1-1 because she thought I was having a stroke,” he said.

From that point on, Putnam describes his memory of events as “bits and pieces.”

At first, the Holland resident was taken to a local hospital. Staff there confirmed that Putnam was having a stroke and that he had recently experienced a heart attack.

Stephen Rupp, MD

“Because I was actively having a stroke, they gave my family the choice of where to be transferred, and my dad chose Mercy Health Saint Mary’s because he knew they had the best neurologists,” Putnam remembers. “To also address my heart attack, I understand that Mercy Health had a full staff of cardiologists and neurologists waiting for me to arrive.”

Time matters with a stroke. Shortly after arriving at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Putnam immediately underwent a thrombectomy, (removal of the clot in the artery of the brain that was causing the stroke), performed by Stephen Rupp, MD, neurointerventionalist. That procedure was immediately followed by a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for his heart blockage, performed by Mercy Health’s Regional Medical Director for Structural Heart Disease, Kristopher Selke, DO, FACC, FSCAI.

Kristopher Selke, DO

“I had a 100 percent blockage of the LAD (main artery down the front of the heart). Now I have a stent in my heart. A blood clot from within my heart broke off and went to my brain, which is what caused the stroke,” he said.

The care team at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s originally expected Putnam to be hospitalized for two weeks, while they monitored his condition and introduced life-saving medications. But after just one week, he was able to be transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. After only two days there, he was released. “At that point, I felt like I had 90 percent of my strength back.”

Today, this young man is extremely grateful for all that Mercy Health was able to do for him. He is taking his medication, modifying his diet and looking forward to follow-up appointments with his specialists.

Putnam offers words of wisdom, especially for men: “Go see a physician once a year and do what they say! I didn’t have a regular doctor, but a year ago my girlfriend made me go see one. I knew I needed to follow up with a doctor about my blood pressure, but I put it off,” he admitted.

As a property maintenance specialist, Putnam likes to explain recent events in easy-to-understand terms. “I wouldn’t be here today without the doctors at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s — what they did and how quickly they did it. Mercy Health’s brain and heart plumbers fixed me. They did a fantastic job. The nurses were awesome too.”

Michael Putnam’s faith is important to him, and it’s even stronger now. “I didn’t realize how many people cared about me and were praying for me around the clock. God wants me on this earth for a reason. Now I need to figure out what that is.”

Learn more about Stroke Care at Mercy Health                          

Learn more about Heart and Vascular Services at Mercy Health


Share Your Thoughts

%d bloggers like this: