It began with a tingling feeling in the arm. Nothing more. Still, it was enough to encourage Buster McCurtain to visit a cardiologist at Oklahoma Heart Institute at Hillcrest South.
That’s when he learned the news. He had one blocked artery and two blocked at 85 percent. Dr. Robert Smith, his cardiologist, consulted with Dr. Allen Cheng and Buster was told he needed surgery. The following week, he underwent open heart surgery with Dr. Cheng.
“I had no idea there was anything wrong with me,” Buster said. “I had no shortness of breath; just a tingling in my arm.
Following surgery, Buster was at Hillcrest South for five days. He recalls how staff gave his family confidence, keeping them informed and comfortable.
He credits his ICU nurse, Ryan, with saving his life. Because Buster couldn’t take any medications leading up to his surgery, Ryan spent a couple hours balancing his medications.
“Ryan used his knowledge and experience to keep me moving along,” Buster said. “I was weak and he had to get me strong.”
He calls his nurses guardian angels who did not bend under stress, explaining how Dr. Cheng gave him a good heart and his nurses helped him live.
After Buster left the hospital, that’s when the real work began.
“Dr. Cheng told me, ‘Now it’s up to you,’” Buster said.
He began a 12-week cardiac rehab program at Hillcrest South, regaining strength and altering his diet. After graduating rehab in October 2018, Buster continues to exercise at the hospital three times a week.
Before surgery, he said he was unknowingly fading away, recalling how Dr. Cheng told him he got to Buster just in time.
Now, he feels better than he’s felt in years. Buster’s cut his medications in half and he’s in the best shape he’s been in in years. So much so, he said he feels he could run again.
“I am here because of the quality care I received.”