By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
No matter where the Skeeters finish this season, Jay Lucas, the Skeeters’ vice president of marketing and public relations, considers the season an enormous success.
Lucas suffered a heart attack on May 1, and due to some timely efforts by first responders and doctors, he walked out of the hospital two days later.
“I was doing lawn work like I normally do. I had mowed the back yard and the sides, and was taking a break with a glass of water. While I was drinking it, I had the feeling I had to burp. I got a soft drink thinking the carbonation would help, but it wouldn’t go away,” Lucas said. “I had this symptom several months ago, and it would always go away. But it wouldn’t go away and I began to feel worse. I grabbed my cell phone and went into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t seem to have any of the heart attack warning signs that I knew – skin clamminess, white face, left arm pain. So, I didn’t think it was a heart attack.”
The American Heart Association says heart attack warning signs include:
• Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
“I went back out on my patio and drank a little more water, but I began to feel worse. I was home by myself, so I called 911, thinking what do I have to lose? If it’s nothing, that’s fine. But if it is something, they will be here,” Lucas said.
“The 911 operator started to ask me questions about my condition. He told me he had already dispatched a unit, but was trying to help diagnose my problem. Almost immediately I could hear sirens. A fire truck, police car and emergency medical technicians (EMT) arrived quickly and began assisting me. The EMTs started taking my readings and meanwhile an ambulance had arrived. The paramedic immediately hooked me up to take an EKG (electrocardiogram test). Immediately she said, ‘Jay you are having a heart attack.’ I was surprised as I was sitting in my chair having a normal conversation with her, and wasn’t feeling much pain. She immediately gave me four aspirin tablets to take, and a nitroglycerin pill. They then got me to the hospital in a hurry,” he said.
The AHA strongly urges people to call 911 if they are experiencing chest pain. The difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes. In Lucas’ case, his doctor told him afterward that if he had delayed calling 911 by even five minutes, he would not have survived.
“I just didn’t realize the severity of it. To this day, I have trouble processing that this was a major heart attack,” Lucas said. “At the hospital, the doctors inserted a stent to open up the artery. I was awake the whole time and talked to the doctor during the procedure. He explained that I had 100 percent blockage in an artery and they would use a stent to open it up. As soon as the stent was in place, I immediately felt better.”
Lucas’ procedure was a balloon angioplasty, also known as coronary artery balloon dilation. According to the AHA, in this procedure, special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries. The balloon is inflated to widen blocked areas where blood flow to the heart muscle has been reduced or cutoff. It is often combined with the implantation of a stent to help prop the artery open and decrease the chance of another blockage. The procedure is considered less invasive because the body is not cut open. The procedure lasts from 30 minutes to several hours, and decreases chest pain almost immediately.
“Afterward, the doctor said, ‘Jay you are an extremely lucky man. If you didn’t call 911 when you did, you would be a dead man right now,’” Lucas said. “He then asked me if I knew what the widow-maker artery was. I had heard about it, and that was the artery that I had clogged.”
According to the AHA, there are three arteries that run over the surface of the heart and supply it with blood. There is one artery on the right side and two arteries on the left side. The one on the right is known as the right coronary. On the left side, which is the main side of the heart, the left circumflex artery supplies the side wall.
The left anterior descending artery runs down the front of the heart and supplies the front and main wall of the heart, and when it is totally blocked or has a critical blockage right at the beginning of the vessel, it is known as the Widow Maker, since the heart muscle dies within minutes after its blood flow is shut off.
After two days in intensive care, Lucas was able to go home. Since then, he walks every morning, monitors his blood pressure and watches what he eats. He has lost 18 pounds by following a heart-conscious diet.
The AHA recommends following a diet that includes a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars, fiber-rich whole grains; poultry and fish without skin and prepared in healthy ways without added saturated and trans-fat, a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, trout and herring), and skim and low-fat dairy products. Foods to avoid include those high in saturated fat and trans-fat, beverages and foods with added sugars, and you should prepare foods with little or no salt.
Having survived the widow maker, Lucas urges everyone to take control of their health.
“I recommend everyone get an annual physical and to take the tests such as stress tests and a colonoscopy that are recommended when you reach your fifties,” Lucas said. “If I had, I may have avoided my heart attack.”
SKEETERS CELEBRATE 2 MILLIONTH FAN
On Friday, July 14, the Skeeters reached the two million fan mark since beginning play in 2012. Selected as the 2 millionth fan was the Blades family of Katy. Beau, Devon, Tregan and Addy Blades were honored on the field before the game, with Beau throwing out the first pitch.
“We really like coming to Skeeters’ games because it is good family entertainment, and its affordable,” Devon Blades said.
88 FOR 8
Sugar Land Skeeters Manager Gary Gaetti has been wearing the number 88 during the current home stand against the Lancaster Barnstormers in honor of the retirement of racecar driver Dale Earnhart Jr., and also for his father, who recently turned 88. Gaetti normally wears number 8.
The Freedom Division, managed by the Skeeters’ Gary Gaetti, beat the Liberty Division 10-3 in the Atlantic League All-star game played on July 12 at Bridgewater, N.J. The Freedom Division had 17 hits including a solo homerun by Kevin Ahrens. Anthony Giansanti had a base-on-balls, a stolen base and scored a run. Michael Nix pitched one inning, giving up two hits and two runs, while Jake Hale pitched one inning, giving up one hit.
The Skeeters went 1-2 last week. The Lancaster Barnstormers beat the Skeeters 7-4, on Friday (July 13), and 6-1 on Saturday. The Skeeters came back to win 12-3 on Sunday.
Wilfredo Rodriguez leads the Skeeters with a .333 batting average, and Travis Scott has 36 runs-batted-in. Michael Nix Hale leads the Skeeters’ starting pitchers with an 8-5 record and 2.28 earned run average.
The Skeeters will close out their home stand with the Barnstormers today (Wednesday, July 19) with a Super Splash Game at 11:05 a.m. The Skeeters then play four games at York and three games at Long Island, before returning on home on July 28 for a six-game home stand with Somerset.
SKEETER OF THE WEEK
Kevin Ahrens is the Skeeter of the week. During the last week, Ahrens’ batting average was .455 with three doubles and four RBIs. Ahrens also had a home run in the Atlantic League All-Star game.