Norman Perry, Arundel
Issue: Difficulty breathing
Today: Breathing easier
Just before Christmas 2010, Norman began feeling like he was coming down with a cold. But this time it was different. He felt exhausted. He was sleeping more. Then he began to suffer from shortness of breath. Alarmed, his wife Barbara insisted they go to SMMC’s Emergency Department.
“We were immediately ushered into an exam room,” she recalls. “It was a stressful situation for my husband and me, but Dr. Aines (Jason Aines, MD) and the nursing staff were wonderful. Even though the ED was really busy and, as we later found out, Dr. Aines was dealing with several serious emergencies, he sat down with us and made my husband feel like he was the only patient.”
Norman was given an electrocardiogram — often referred to as an EKG or ECG — a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse (or “wave”) travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal heartbeat on ECG will show the timing of the top and lower chambers. Doctors eventually determined that Norman’s blood oxygen level was low, causing his shortness of breath, a result of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 52 years.
“In spite of the seriousness of the situation, this was the most pleasant emergency room experience we have ever had,” adds Barbara. “Dr. Aines was calm, non-judgmental, and sincere. We were so impressed.”
Norman has set aside cigarettes. Now, he keeps a closer eye on his lifestyle and continues to indulge his passion for classic cars, comfortable in the knowledge that SMMC’s ED team is there when needed.