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Mary Buck

“I think that was the most information I’ve ever gotten about any health issue in my life,” said Buck. “They made everything very clear and helped me get set up for Cardiac Rehab and for both of my follow ups with Dr. {James} Kirby and Dr. Gutierrez.”

After Mary Buck quit smoking, she had trouble sleeping at night. “I had issues with breathing,” she said, “and, during the day, I would get out of breath.”

She thought her shortness of breath was tied to her smoking habit, but a CT scan revealed three arterial blockages. Her doctor told her to see a cardiologist as soon as possible.

“He told me I was probably going to need some stents,” said Buck, 52. “I immediately started having a panic attack.”

Buck immediately thought back to two family members who died from aneurisms at the ages of 35 and 52. She had always worried about heart problems in her family.

CHI St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital admitted Buck and took her to the Cath Lab after running several tests. “I had been having shoulder pains in my left shoulder and the top part of my left arm,” she said. “It felt like joint pain.”

But as Cardiologist Dr. Ricardo Gutierrez ran the heart cath, Buck said she began to feel something open up, and her shoulder pain disappeared. Dr. Gutierrez told Buck he would not be able to insert stents; she would need a triple bypass.

Buck felt anxious in the time leading up to her surgery, but she was grateful for her care team and her family, who flew in from other states to support her through her procedure.

“I had my whole family around me and felt very comfortable,” she said. “There were probably eight people in my room at one time, but the nurses were all very gracious about it and very helpful when it came to listening to my family’s concerns.”

Buck said she appreciated visits from Nurse Navigator Cindy Emola, who explained her treatment and what she could expect to experience post-op and the pharmacist who stopped by to explain her medication as she was being discharged from the hospital.

“I think that was the most information I’ve ever gotten about any health issue in my life,” said Buck. “They made everything very clear and helped me get set up for Cardiac Rehab and for both of my follow ups with Dr. {James} Kirby and Dr. Gutierrez.”

Buck said Cardiac Rehab was a great support for her while she recovered from her procedure. “It’s an awesome place, and they are very caring people,” she said. “It was never like, ‘here, you have an hour to do this.’ It was ‘these are the things you need to do. Take as long as you need to do them.”

She focused on trying to get the most out of every workout and felt a sense of accomplishment when she completed her first 45-minute cardio workout following surgery.

Back at home in Somerville, Buck has continued to remain active, working eight to 10 hours daily in her job as a CPA and doing activities she enjoys like playing dominoes and enjoying nature. She credits both her local physician and the team at CHI St. Joseph Health for saving her life.

“Without their help, I probably would have died,” said Buck. “For me, it was not a question of if but a question of when.”