The doctors did their part, and I’ve dug deeper into my soul than ever before to do mine.

Steven "Bert" Berthel, Patient

On Sunday, May 19 I took my dog, Galena, for a walk. I got a block and a half. The next thing I remember I was waking up at Bronson Methodist Hospital four days later not knowing what had happened.

What I learned was I had suffered a cardiac arrest. Galena had started barking manically, which drew the attention of neighbors who came running out of the house and started CPR to keep the blood flowing to my heart. I basically had been dead for about twenty minutes until paramedics arrived and shocked me back to life.

Once I woke up in Bronson’s Intensive Care Unit, doctors were able to determine that I had a birth defect in my heart that I hadn’t known about for all of my 64 years. I had a pulmonary artery that was pinched between two ventricles. I also had a blood clot that had gone into my lungs.

After a week in the hospital I was homebound for 6 weeks. I had to wear a portable defibrillator, so if my heart rate changed it would jolt me and keep from going into arrhythmia. I’m usually a very active guy, but I was not allowed to work as a carpenter, lift more than five pounds, to drive or ride my bicycle.

About six weeks later, I returned to Bronson Hospital to undergo open heart surgery to fix my heart defect. Dr. Alphonse DeLucia took a vein from my leg and used it to replace the kinked artery. Dr. DeLucia and his staff in cardiology are world class and on top of their game. I appreciated their forthright manner, their honesty and confidence. They said “this is our job, don’t worry.” And I didn’t. I went in strong and confident that they knew what they were doing.

It’s been four weeks since my surgery and I’m doing great. I’ve logged over 90 miles of walking and I’m up to walking a total of seven miles a day now. The doctors are ecstatic.

Before my surgery, I told Dr. Delucia it was my goal to be healthy enough to attend a benefit event my friends are putting on for me at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe this Sunday.  If I was to miss this event, I would have been really disappointed. The fact I feel good, I’m sleeping well, I can drive, and my scars are healing up- there just are not enough words to say how thankful I am for the good care I got. The doctors did their part, and I’ve dug deeper into my soul than ever before to do mine. I will be at the benefit enjoying all the great music and a wonderful community that has come together to support me. I told the cardiac team and everyone at Bronson who provided me with such top-notch care that I would love to have them come and celebrate with me.

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