Jamie’s chest pain was no walk in the park…

Only SIH has the area’s heart surgery team with over 144 years of combined experience.

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How Could She See this Coming?

At age 40 Marion native, Jamie Binkley had no time for distractions. Going to nursing school while raising a family of three young children, had her on the run. Conscious about her health, getting walks in with her dog, Chewey, or working out at home were ways to squeeze in some exercise.

However, while working out one day, Jamie felt discomfort in her chest. At first she didn’t think too much about it, assuming she’d pulled a muscle. The pain spread through to the top of her back. It seemed to subside at rest at first, but eventually she found herself waking up in the middle of the night with recurring pain.

Being in nursing school—in fact about to graduate from RN school–the situation caused enough concern that a visit to the Prairie Heart Institute’s Chest Pain Center at Herrin Hospital was in order. Luckily, at the time, no heart attack was indicated.

From that visit however, she was referred to Prairie Cardiologist, Nabil Al-Sharif who felt after reviewing her condition, that a cardiac catheterization at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale was necessary. At that visit, a Friday, Al-Sharif found two blockages: one at 90 percent in her left main artery. Physicians decided the best course of treatment would be surgery, as soon as possible.

open heart surgery

Heart Surgery? Really?

“I was actually in shock when Dr. Al-Sharif told me I needed double-bypass surgery,” said Jamie. “I began to cry because I knew what the future had in store for me.” Her husband, who was working on a job in the Dakotas, had just flown in for her graduation. “He was overwhelmed. He hadn’t been home 24 hours and they were admitting me to the hospital.”

The following Monday, double-bypass open-heart surgery was performed by SIH Medical Group cardiovascular surgeon, Cristian Sarateanu and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale’s ten-year, expert surgical team. She came through successfully.

The whole event was quite a disruption in Jamie’s life, in fact the situation meant that Jamie missed her graduation from nursing school. “The nurses were so sweet,” said Binkley. “Since I missed my RN graduation, the nurses pinned me right in the hospital—right on my hospital gown,” she said with a chuckle.

Dr. Sarateanu

A New Perspective

Experiencing heart surgery at such a young age gave Jamie a new perspective. “I want people to know that they need to be an advocate for their own health. Be persistent and keep searching for an answer if you feel something is not right. Just because you don’t fit the profile, does not mean it can’t happen to you.

Jamie’s now with her husband in South Dakota until they can return to Marion. Jamie is actively pursuing her nursing career. Not sure what field she’s ultimately going to go into, Jamie says she likes all fields of nursing. “I’ve had several people ask me if I planned to go into cardiac nursing, and if they ever needed a nurse during heart surgery, that they would want me there,” she said.

Learn about Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare