Smart Heart: Knee surgery turns into double bypass

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
Mary Douglas

Routine surgery led to a discovery that could have saved Mary Douglas' life. (February 24, 2010 / WRDW-TV)

February 24, 2010 News 12 at 6 o'clock

GROVETOWN, Ga. --- A routine knee surgery turns into anything but for a Grovetown woman. Turns out it would be procedure to help her walk indirectly saved her life.

News 12's Lynnsey Gardner introduces you to Mary Douglas in today's Smart Heart special assignment.

Mary is recovering from double bypass heart surgery, a heart that beats for the grandson she's raising and a heart that is lucky to still be beating at all.

"This? It goes all the way down to here." A surgery scar is a badge of honor for some and for others, like Mary Douglas, its private. But, she's sharing her story with you to possibly save your life. "Every day I wake up and I'm like 'Lord, I thank you. I thank him every minute, every second. It's a blessing just to be here."

That blessing she counts started with a nagging pain every time she walked. Not in her heart, but in her leg.

"We had to hear about the knee problems everyday so I was like okay, well, you should go to the doctor." explains Mary's grandson Melvin Douglas.

She scheduled knee surgery. Then, she went to a routine meeting about another health issue. You see, Mary's lived with Type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years and along with it, comes a diabetes education class.

Mary told her instructor about the knee surgery, but in that conversation came a warning. Mary was told to schedule routine testing ahead of the knee surgery just to be careful tests like an ECG. An ECG is a simple, painless test done in a matter of minutes. It allows doctors to tell if there are any abnormalities in your heart.

"It came back abnormal." explains Mary of her first ECG, and so did the second one. It was a double blockage. Mary would need open heart surgery.

"I had no symptoms at all. I had a little heart burn but i would just say oh, it's heart burn. No shortness of breath, I get a a little tired, but that was it." Mary had mistakenly chalked that up to her weight.

The real problem was beating inside and it was getting weaker by the moment. "I was thinking i may not make it."

But, she did thanks to that surgery she was rushed to have last October at University. She still remembers coming to.
"My first words were 'Lord, I thank you."

Now Mary goes to rehab three days a week and she takes with her another badge of honor, this one around her wrist.
"This is a bracelet that says 'be smart, take care of your heart.' It means a lot to me. It encourages me."

And her journey encourages her grandson and hopefully, you too. "If you have kids, you don't want to wait until it's too late because it's very painful to them, so go ahead and get it done."

And about that knee surgery, Mary put it off for the heart surgery. Now she says she may not ever have it. Funny how that annoying pain becomes more bearable when you are faced with a much graver alternative.


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