Kenny Masterson of Foley, Missouri is no stranger to heart problems. In fact, he’s had more than his share. Cardiac bypass surgery in 1998 had him laid up for almost three months recovering, and resulted in a few lifestyle changes, including no more fast food hamburgers, much to his chagrin. Over the years, Kenny has had several episodes that landed him in the ER and put him in the care of several different cardiologists. The level of cardiac care he needed initially meant going to St. Louis providers, since they were closest to his residence in Foley, which is roughly 75 miles south of Hannibal.
Being married to a registered nurse means that someone is noticing warning signs even if you aren’t. Kenny had so many minor aches and pains over the years that he got used to ignoring them, attributing them to getting older or overdoing activities. Which is just what he thought while he was preparing to participate in a Mardi Gras parade in downtown St. Charles on February 18, 2023. An avid motorcyclist, Kenny rode down that Saturday morning to ride with his club in the event. It was a chilly day, so he thought that was why his back was hurting and his hands were cold. Even though he knew, deep down it was something more. Shares Kenny, “That’s how my heart issues always start. The whole time I was riding in the parade, I hurt. I met my wife Sherry for lunch afterwards, and as soon as I walked in she looked at me and goes ‘What’s wrong?’” He convinced her “it’s nothing,” so they had lunch, even though Kenny says he wasn’t actually hungry - another bad sign. He rode home on his motorcycle, and his left hand hurt so much that he only used it when absolutely necessary. Yet another sign he ignored.
Once home, his wife could see he was not improving so she went into full nurse mode. An improvised cardiac stress test proved to Kenny, finally, that he needed medical attention. By this time Kenny had begun seeing cardiologists at Hannibal Regional Medical Group, but given the distance from their home he knew if they called an ambulance it would not bring him that far north. So Kenny asked his wife to drive him to the ER at Hannibal Regional Hospital. Despite the lengthy car ride, Kenny knows this decision helped save his life.
“I’ve been to a lot of places for health care. But I’ve never seen a place where EVERYONE is wonderful. From the ER Receptionist to the folks who did the EKG to the doctors - they were all exceptional. The nurses were fabulous - extremely professional, caring and competent,” says Kenny. All of which was particularly good, since Kenny’s case was a tough one. At this point Kenny already had 11 stents placed in his heart, so this time to get one placed took three hours - a very long time. Dr. David Lemons, Interventional Cardiologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group, told Kenny he was running out of vessels to put stents into. “He didn’t lecture me, just explained very clearly what my situation was. I told him to do whatever he could so I didn't have to go to Columbia for open heart surgery again.”
Once the stent was placed, Kenny was sent to the Intensive Care Unit where Kenny says, “I’ve never been treated so well in my life as I was there. They did everything possible to make me feel better, which was good because honestly, this one (heart attack) scared me.” Kenny was released Monday afternoon, and continues making the drive north for follow-up care with Dr. Richard Valuck, cardiologist at Hannibal Regional. “I am a country person, I will give up the convenience of close city care for the personalized care I get here. The compassion and care here makes all the difference.” The other thing Kenny has learned? “If you don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack, learn them. And if you do know them, don’t ignore them! Not everyone is as lucky as I am to be married to a nurse.”
To learn more about the cardiology services at Hannibal Regional or to make an appointment, call (573) 248-1300.