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  • At Tacoma General, cardiac patient 'just knew I would be OK'

    Tim Carter, a commercial flooring installer, was used to working long, hard hours — even with asthma. But on January 1, 2009, the day he was due to start a job in the Auburn area, “I felt terrible. I thought maybe I’d caught the flu. But every time I laid down, something told me if I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t wake up.”

    Concerned, he asked his co-workers to take him to the nearest emergency department. Tests soon revealed that Tim was suffering from multivessel coronary artery disease, and was in danger of going into cardiac arrest.

    “I started thinking this could be the end of my life," he said.

    That evening, he was transported to the MultiCare Regional Heart & Vascular Center at Tacoma General Hospital, known for its highly sophisticated technology combined with advanced patient care.

    MultiCare staff members quickly eased his patient’s fears.

    “When Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Charles Anderson walked in and put his hand on my forearm—I just knew I would be OK,” Tim recalls. “He didn’t pull any punches, but he made me feel better. He’s a gentle soul.”

    Tim’s condition required two procedures. The first was the temporary placement of an intra-aortic balloon pump. This mechanical device is inserted in the aorta to increase oxygen and blood flow to the heart, while allowing the heart muscle to rest.

    Then on Jan. 5 he underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery. During the complex, seven-hour procedure, Dr. Anderson and his team grafted sections of a vein from Tim’s right leg onto the four blocked vessels, restoring full blood flow to his heart.

    “The surgery went excellent,” Tim reports. “Dr. Anderson was right there when I came to. I’m so thankful I got him as my surgeon. He even called my sister in California every day to tell her how I was doing.”

    Tim spent nearly two weeks recovering at Tacoma General Hospital, surrounded by a team of compassionate caregivers. “You know that the people are there because they love what they’re doing.”

    The most difficult part of his recovery was “slowing down. I had to learn how to pace myself. But Dr. Anderson made me believe I could recover. He told me I could carry on and get through this.”

    Today, Tim is living in California with his family, enjoying his healthy heart, and feeling grateful for the care he received. “Everybody was just perfect to me. I’ve never been treated so well.”

    Posted on Jan 11, 2012 in Cardiac, Voice of the Patient