Ray’s revved up about his heart tune-up…

The region’s only congestive heart failure program saved Ray’s life. Prairie Heart Institute’s Cardiac Management Center is designed help you navigate the difficulties of living with this chronic disease.

Call 618.988.6148 or visit online.

West Frankfort resident, Ray Wallace, a retiree from Southern Illinois Power Co Op, loved being busy all the time. Someone who likes things particular, he was quite into keeping is lawn, his garden and fixing things.

Solving a Mystery

Retirement is supposed to be golden, but for Ray, things started slowing down in 2010, more than he liked. For some years, he experienced an overall loss of energy, loss of appetite and he started putting off his favorite projects.

Over time, Ray’s condition began to worsen. He began having frequent emergency room visits for a variety of symptoms: pain in his side, swelling in his legs, labored breathing, he stopped eating, other swelling occurred. Like all emergency rooms, when a chronically sick person arrives, the idea is to get them well enough to tolerate tests later to find out the issue. Through the winter months of 2012 and 2013, Ray had been hospitalized three to four times.

Through all of this, Ray’s wife, Betsy watched as a once 206-pound man now weighed only 160. He wasn’t his fun-loving self. By March 2013, she felt helpless–like there was nothing anyone could do. “I thought, ‘this is just his time,’” Betsy said. “I just prayed for an advocate, someone to tell me what to do.”

Prayers Answered

Her prayers were answered with Vicki Miller, RN and staff at the new Prairie Cardiac Management Center at Herrin Hospital. “They were my angels,” she said.

“When we first saw Ray, he was really swollen and not breathing well at all, typical of a patient with heart failure.” said Vicki. “A person with heart failure has a bad pump. It’s just not able to circulate fluid and blood around the body as it should. Eventually, that fluid backs up and affects other vital organs.”

Vicki and Elizabeth sat down with Ray and Betsy to look at the big picture. “Congestive heart failure requires constant management and it’s not easy. If not properly managed, ER visits will be frequent because the patient is burdened with symptoms.” Ray was severely sick. The first step was getting the symptoms under control so they could then actually manage the disease properly—for starters, relieving the amount of fluid that had built up in his body. Using medication and an infusion, they removed a massive 39 pounds of it.

Transforming the Routine

Ray dropping down to 121 pounds, following the reduction of fluid, caused some concern for Betsy. However, something changed. Ray felt better. He had an appetite, something that had not had for a year and three months.

With help from the staff at the Cardiac Management Center, Ray is now on a tight management to monitor salt intake, control how much fluid he takes in, and making sure he is compliant with taking the proper medicine. All of this is part of the daily effort not to burden his heart. He will never be cured of congestive heart failure, but he’s now on track to have better quality of life.

Today, Ray is back doing the things he loves. “People can’t get over the change in Ray,” said Betsy. “I think it was a miracle. I have such respect for the Cardiac Management Center and Herrin Hospital. People need to know this is available right here.”