Sandy Houck is a loyal Wind Gap native. She was born and raised there and spent 32 years working in a local blouse factory. As she watched the trend of garment manufacturers moving overseas, she switched careers.
"I learned to turn on a computer and type and then took a clerk/receptionist job at my brother's accounting office," she says. After another 25-year career, she finally got set to retire.
Her plan was to travel with her companion, Don. They had laid out a wonderful itinerary across the New England states, but then her health intervened.
During the six months prior to her retirement, she didn't feel like herself.
"The first half of the year in an accounting office is maddening work," she says. "So I just blamed how I felt on my age and the busy schedule."
She was often tired and seemed to lack the stamina to complete daily tasks. Soon she also felt dizzy and lightheaded.
"I just ignored it," she said.
But she shouldn't have, given her family history. Her father had his first heart attack at age 43. He died of heart disease at age 66. Her mother had a heart attack in 2004 which required by-pass surgery. Her brother in 2010 had surgery to open five blocked arteries.
Then Sandy finally received the wake-up call she needed. She and Don were on their nightly walk when she felt a burning sensation and tightness in her chest.
She saw her family physician and got a referral to a cardiologist who made "a big tadoo" about her symptoms.
So she went to have a nuclear stress test. Her doctor called soon after with results - they had found something.
Sandy came to Easton Hospital for a catheterization. The cardiologist discover three blocked arteries... a widow maker.
Even after hearing that, Sandy was willing to wait a few months for surgery.
"I just didn't want to cancel the vacation we worked so hard at planning," she said. But her brother, as a survivor, implored her to seek immediate treatment.
She met with cardiothoracic surgeon Richard Angelico, MD.
"He is so compassionate and instilled such confidence," she says. "I knew I was in good hands."
Angelico performed triple bypass surgery.
Prior to surgery, Sandy felt the connection of the open-heart team. "They seem like such a family."
Her five-day stay at Easton Hospital was comforting.
"I'd heard negative remarks about the place," she says. "But everyone at the hospital was incredibly kind and attentive. The place might be small, but the care is as good if not better than the rest."
Typical for many cardiac patients, Sandy felt sad and depressed after surgery. "I knew to expect it, and the staff helped me through those bouts," she says. Plus she could see "the Gap" from her room, which was an uplifting sight.
Today she feels like herself again. She does two one-mile walks each day. Her stamina returned and she is back to being busy, tending the Memorial Rose Garden at her church.
She started working out at the hospital's cardiac rehabilitation program where she builds her strength and connects with other cardiac patients.
And that trip across New England is back in the plans because she has her heart set on it. Thanks to Dr. Angelico, she'll be able to enjoy it with a happy heart.
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Easton, PA 18042-3892