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City official recovers from heart attack
Thursday, August 9, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Martinsville Director of Community Development Wayne Knox feels lucky to be alive.
Mowing the yard makes a person sweat. But while Knox was mowing on May 5, he knew something was wrong when he started sweating a little more than what seemed normal during yard work on a warm spring day.
He went into his house and sat down to cool off, but his sweating lingered. He then remembered learning that profuse perspiration could be a sign of a heart attack, so he called 911 and had an ambulance come to his house.
That basically was the last thing he remembered for the next five days. At Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, he was placed in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.
Now, “I feel grateful that I’m still among the living,” Knox said.
A heart attack — doctors call it “myocardial infarction” — occurs when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted, damaging or destroying part of the heart muscle. It happens when one or more arteries become blocked.
It can be lethal. Chest pain is the most common symptom. Others include sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, anxiety, severe coughing and fainting. Medical professionals strongly encourage anyone who might be having a heart attack to call 911.
Knox said doctors determined that one of his blood vessels was partially blocked, and they inserted a stent to open it.
They have given him a good prognosis, but he now is on “medication I’ve got to take forever,” he said.
Knox, 65, was hospitalized for 13 days. He went back to work on a part-time basis several weeks ago.
As director of community development, Knox oversees the city’s planning, zoning and housing offices. He enjoys his job and does not plan to retire anytime soon.
However, he admitted to sometimes working as much as 16 hours a day before his sudden illness. He said that was because he wanted to provide people the services they needed from his department quickly.
“You can’t always do that in an eight-hour day” and must sometimes work on projects after regular business hours, he said.
But those long days must come to a screeching halt — doctors told Knox that stress contributed to his heart attack.
“A lot of us are not aware of how much stress is being heaped upon us in our daily lives,” he said. For that reason, he encourages people to take frequent breaks during their work days.
Laughing, he said he generally feels fine now except that “the locomotive runs out of steam faster than it did” previously.
Knox understands that the heart attack did not technically occur until after he arrived at the hospital. He said the sweating was the warning that it was about to happen.
He apparently had no early warning signs of an approaching heart attack. He said he always has tried to eat a healthy diet, exercise on a regular basis and get plenty of sleep. So he was surprised when the attack occurred.
“A lot of times, you don’t have the symptoms until it’s too late,” he said he has learned.
Knox said he encourages people to have regular medical checkups, including heart-related tests, so they can find medical problems they might not know they have.
For him, “it’s still a long road” to a full recovery, he said.
What has gotten him through his recent ordeal, he added, is the many well-wishes and prayers he has received as well as quality services from people who helped him recover — from the paramedics in the ambulance to nurses, nursing assistants and doctors at the hospital.
“It’s been a real blessing,” Knox said, to have so much care and compassion shown toward him.