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Published on June 09, 2020

Bev and Jim Fisher

Farmer Reminds Heart Patients: Get Help When Needed

Jim Fisher had no pizzazz, and around planting season, that’s unusual. He knew he was having some health problems.

The 72-year-old who farms in rural Estherville, Iowa, had faced his heart condition head-on for many years. He had some stents, he worked on lifestyle changes, but in mid-April, two big hurdles were on his horizon.

“I was getting chest pains, but we were getting ready to get the crops in. I was tired all the time, and I didn’t want to get in the way of my son and son-in-law during planting,” Fisher said. “It felt like I’d laid down and someone put 10 bags of seed on my chest.”

Fisher, a U.S. Air Force veteran, knew that duty called. But there was another obstacle.

“This virus came along and that made me wonder. They said we should shelter in place,” he said. “I didn’t want to get exposed to it, or disturb our schedule with planting corn and beans.”

A Literal Wake-Up Call

When a more severe spell of pains woke him in the middle of the night, he realized it was time to jump those hurdles and get help. As he and his wife, Bev, prepared to depart to an emergency room, he studied the lay of the land.

“I knew if we went north there had been a lot of cases reported there, so we went to Estherville instead,” said Fisher. “I was impressed right away with the (Avera Holy Family) hospital and how tight they had things. It felt safe. They got me in right away and then shipped me to Sioux Falls.”

Fisher’s natural hesitation is something many of us face in this time of pandemic. He went to Avera Heart Hospital, where he received blood thinning drugs and an angiogram. Later, Meghana Helder, MD, performed bypass surgery.

“I’d tell anyone to get in. It was safe and I felt protected,” Fisher said. “The nurses and staff were nice to me, but they were fussy about making sure everything was clean and done right. It felt like I was safer there than I might be at home.”

Don't Hunker Down — Get Help

After his successful surgery, Fisher went home in just a few days. He felt calm the night before the procedure. “I knew I had two choices: I could stay home and likely die, or go in and get it fixed,” he said. “It’s like when you have a combine noise. You know it’ll either get better or it will get a lot worse.”

Fisher repeated the advice he’d offer anyone who’s thinking “hunker down” instead of getting to a specialist or other provider. “It’s very safe, and they are experts,” he said. “The people there are like Dr. Helder – they have a passion for what they do.”

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