ELIZABETHTOWN — Like too many others, Chris Gumlaw ignored early warning signs, among them burning sensations in his chest when he exerted himself.
“I thought at first it was heartburn,” he said.
He also had some minor vision issues and sweating.
Gumlaw, 42, is on the maintenance staff at Elizabethtown Community Hospital; he assumed his symptoms had to do with occasional exertion on the job.
But he saw a physician’s assistant, who suggested he consult a doctor.
He did, but not for the chest discomfort — for what turned out to be a simple rash on his leg.
Dr. Mary Glickman took care of that and, at a followup visit, prescribed medication for the heartburn symptoms Gumlaw mentioned that day.
But just to be on the safe side, though, she set up a stress test for him.
At her specialty cardiac clinic at ECH, cardiologist Dr. Seema Lodha performed Gumlaw’s stress test on May 31.
She was incredibly concerned about what she was seeing on Gumlaw’s EKG printout.
So the physician told him to take it easy and visit her office first thing the following Monday.
Over the course of the next few days, Lodha consulted with physicians at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington about Gumlaw’s condition. It was discovered that he is diabetic and that his veins are somewhat small, making stent placement to remove blockage impossible.
On June 6, he underwent double-bypass heart surgery.
“Everyone at ECH becomes incredibly concerned when medical issues happen to one of our own employees,” ECH Chief Operating Officer Matt Nolan.
“Our clinical staff is proud to be able to help, but it also makes everyone very worried because we understand the severity of the situation.
“We knew that Chris was really in trouble.”
But the surgery went well, and then Gumlaw enrolled in ECH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.