I’m Alive!

I'm Alive!To all of my dear friends and family who have asked about my adventure and me, in layman’s terms, this is as best I can recall:

It started out on Sept. 8, 2016 at 7:00 a.m. I entered the Tri-City Medical Center aka Tri-City Hospital and got prepped for an Atrial fibrillation procedure. This is where they would go into and up through the groin enter the heart with a wire, go through a thin wall and then freeze the part of the heart that sets off the Atrial fibrillation fast rapid uneven heart beat. This is an electrical procedure for the heart. Afterwards the wire is pulled back through and it closes itself. It’s a one day procedure, that could be in and out the same day, with absolutely no pain, and no down time.

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What happened was, after entering my heart, there is the wall the wire needs to go through, however my septrum was stronger and thicker, and the wire shot down and entered the lower right ventricle and made a tear in my heart. So I started bleeding out at a very high rate, they called code blue, and rushed me to a different operating room. During this mad wild ride through the hallways they had two people compressing my heart to keep me alive. They opened my chest and was told took hands full of blood to see what the problem was. They by passed my heart so they could see what needed to be repaired and put in two tubes for drainage. They sewed up the tear and wired my chest closed, however they couldn’t align my chest correctly as my arms were off to the side.

I was gone, dead for 15 minutes, and poor Joyce and Lennette were going through hell, as they were told by all that they had never experienced this, and my chance for survival was nil. The two who did the heart compressions kept the oxygen going so I wouldn’t be brain dead, and have kidney failure. After this they moved me into critical care room where I was for three days. They awoke me and asked me questions and different drills as moving my right foot, left foot, hands, and asking questions like who is the President, etc. They determined that I wasn’t brain dead, so they took me back to the O-R opened me up again re-aligned my chest and put in a steel plate with eight screws. The chest compressions broke four ribs, and my sternum in four places as well. The following day I went in for a MRI Scan, and they said I did have a minor stroke, that I have already recovered from.

There was a time, in the O-R that I could see a milky white light, and I didn’t know if I was alive or not, however it hurt so bad I assumed I was. After it seemed like a fairly long time, and lots of concentration, a BIG white light came through, and I could see the ceiling as clear as possible I could see all of the details very clearly! I shouted out, “I’M ALIVE!!!” Not having any idea that what happened or what I had gone through. Joyce, Lennette, Dawn were all there when I finally came back, and I was asked who were they, etc. My good friend Frank Glasson was also there. I knew something had happened when I tried to drink from a straw, and chasing the straw around, when there wasn’t even a straw or water in front of me. Trying to eat the first few day was like a kid who never held a spoon before. I kept asking did I have a heart attack, and was told no repeatedly. When I asked about a stroke I was also told no, until the MRI Scan that happened as few days later, then told yes a very minor stroke. The kept me heavily medicated for pain the first few days, then pills. To be honest I had no idea what was going on for the first two to three days as I recall. Frank even at my request brought me in a trumpet still while in critical care unit, I wanted to see if I had any coordination in trying to finger a horn. After a short while I gently blew into the horn, and made a sound Concert F, then up to B-flat and played for about 10 seconds. The nurses had no idea what was going on, but came to my door applauding…

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I came home on Sept.16th, for the exception of the pain of the healing process on my chest I feel great!
Doing my exercises, and started playing for a few minutes at a time a few days ago, today so far I have in 20 minutes or so. My goal is not to be as good as I once was, but far better then I ever was! I really have a desire to play now. I can’t work in my shop for 6-8 weeks, and it will take three months, to be mostly healed. I should have a full recovery by March 2017.

I’m so thankful to be alive, and so thankful to my wife Joyce and daughter Lennette!

The hospital was exceedingly great. All of the Doctors, Surgeons, Cardiologists, Lift teams, and Nurses were fabulous! The TEAM they had for me could not have been better!

This was not a fault of any one, it was just a never experienced before as far as any of the medical team. I had two main surgeons, one who 72 years of age with tons of experience.

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I received love and affection from everyone, unlike I have ever experienced before.

I had open heart surgery, and Dr. Gramins told me that I had passed the “stress test.” And should be at least 90% stroke free for the rest of my life.

Thanks to all!


Veteran jazz musician Flip Oakes plays trumpet with the Titan Hot Seven (and many other groups) and is the designer of the Flip Oakes “Wild Thing” line of brass instruments. Visit him online at www.flipoakes.com; you may send him an email at flip@flipoakes.com.

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