Episode 4

Published on:

7th Feb 2023

From Chest Pain to Myocardial Bridge Diagnosis and Surgery at Stanford

From Chest Pain to Myocardial Bridge Diagnosis and Surgery at Stanford, Jeff Holden recounts a life-changing episode that shifted his perspective on health, empathy, and purpose. An avid cyclist, Jeff was blindsided by a severe medical emergency that defied his otherwise stellar physical condition. This episode dives into the mystery of his heart condition, the surreal experiences during his recovery, and the transformative moments that followed. Plus, discover how Jeff's journey led him to launch a new podcast aimed at helping others dealing with similar health issues.

Show notes:

0:00 Introduction

1:40 "What gets you up in the morning?"

2:05 Jeff dives into his story starting with the Death Ride in July 2021

3:30 By August, he was experiencing a deep burning in his chest

5:00 Sees his primary physician who recommends he sees his cardiologist

6:00 By that Thursday, he woke at 5:45am with all the sensations of a heart attack, 911 is called and the EMTs find a heart attack and he's wheeled out of his house to the ambulance with a pulse of 46

8:00 Jeff has a catherization and nothing is found

9:20 He starts cardiac rehab and was experiencing PVCs which became problematic in addition to vasospasms

10:10 Jeff tries multiple medications

11:00 Last day of cardiac rehab September 2021 where he had "the sensation" after climbing stairs in the garage

11:50 The cardiologist calls and calls Jeff to the hospital as he had just had ventricular tachycardia episode. As in RIGHT NOW. His spasm episodes were triggering the tachycardia.

13:45 Electrophysiologist casually mentions Jeff has a myocardial bridge but that it is benign but Jeff pushes back

14:30 Jeff asks for a bypass of the LAD that is bridged but the doctor says, "we don't do that"

15:00 Jeff's cardiologist says "it's beyond us" and recommends provocative testing

15:30 Stanford is recommended and he sees Dr. Tremmel

16:30 Jeff learns his myocardial bridge is 40mm long and when he is experiencing vasospasms in the LAD, it is 98% blocked

17:20 Jeff had unroofing surgery at Stanford January 4, 2022

17:50 prior to surgery, Jeff quizzes Dr. Jack Boyd on his success rate which is great coaching for listeners. Take note!

18:45 Boots recommends the Myocardial Bridge Facebook group which is a treasure trove of information

20:10 Jeff feels much improvement since his unroofing

21:10 Jeff connects with a marathon runner who also had unroofing in August 2021 and is doing well too

22:00 Jeff and Boots met through the Facebook group thankfully.

22:30 Jeff revisits why he gets up in the morning

23:00 how we have to be our own best advocate.

23:30 Jeff shares what he did to recover in addition to prepping for surgery including having the pre-surgery to surgery which is semi-comical.

25:30 Jeff felt the power of prayer

27:00 recovery was a little rough. He did not "dig" ICU at all. Sleep deprivation was an issue.

28:00 Jeff takes control of his recovery.

28:40 Boots shares her ICU story with Jeff.

29:20 Jeff is sent home and his wife promptly gets sick. He even empties the dish washer.

30:00 Minor blip and Jeff has to go to the ER and then comes down with Covid!

31:00 Jeff and Boots reminisce about the heart pillow

31:30 Boots asks Jeff what surprised him the most about open-heart surgery

32:20 Boots asks what has been most helpful?

33:10 Jeff laments how his wife was impacted

34:30 Grace, gratitude, appreciation for the medical community

34:50 He never felt sorry for himself. He just asked a lot of questions and did what he had to do to survive.

36:00 He believes there is a reason why all of this happened the way it happened.

37:00 Jeff shares about an important dream.

39:10 Jeff asks Boots if she had an important dream, and she shares the impact on her empathic and intuitive abilities.

41:10 Jeff and Boots talk about how heart surgery changes you.

42:00 Keep your sense of humor!

42:40 Survivors' guilt

43:30 Jeff shares his podcast, Imperfect Heart and how he hopes to change the conversation around myocardial bridging.

46:00 outro

Find Jeff Holden at My Imperfect Heart – Support for those with Myocardial Bridges.

Website: The Heart Chamber (theheartchamberpodcast.com)

Transcript: Joyful Beat | The Heart Chamber (theheartchamberpodcast.com)

The Heart Chamber (@theheartchamberpodcast)

Thanks to Michael Moeri for being my right hand man. Michael Moeri - Audio Editor, Podcast Producer and Marketing Director

Thanks to Denise Hardy for your support and believing in me. linkedin.com/in/denise-hardy-30a51086

Music by AudioCoffee


We feel it is important to have podcast transcripts available for accessibility.

This transcript was part of a portfolio of work that transitioned with this podcast when it joined our network. It has not been reviewed by our staff and may not match the formatting or standards of other episodes. If you find an error in the transcription, or if you would like to use a quote, please reach out to us at connect@37by27.com.

Boots Knighton: [:

Jeff Holden: Thank you Boots. I'm really happy to be here.

Boots Knighton: Well thank you and I'm happy you're here as well. And we have an exciting episode today. Jeff is gonna dive into his story. It's a very hope-filled story. And Jeff, tell us where you are from.

Jeff Holden: I'm a Chicago native. I grew up in Chicago and moved to Texas in my thirties, and then moved to California. Texas was a short-lived stint. and then got transferred to California and I've been here ever since, almost 37 years now.

Boots Knighton: Okay. Where exactly In California.

erful community. Very family [:

Boots Knighton: That's great. And I bet that has played into your recovery.

Jeff Holden: Well, not only my recovery, but my access to great healthcare and the ability to exercise. I mean, we've got mountains and rivers and, and ocean and San Francisco one way, Napa the other. Sierra Tahoe region to the east. So there's nothing you can't do here most of the year,

Boots Knighton: That's great. , you're very lucky. Jeff, what gets you up in the morning?

Jeff Holden: the ability to do something for others. And post-surgery, it's. A celebration that we're still here.

hy don't you walk us through [:

Jeff Holden: Yeah, that's, that's a great story. Uh, I'm a cyclist. Is, is probably my sport of choice. And I was training in July of for a ride in the Sierras, which is a, a pretty grueling ride. It's called the Death Ride. Uh, coincidentally. And I'm in great shape. The ride's supposed to take place late July. We get up there and fires. And for those of you from the California or uh, Western states, the Markley Ville Fire was the one that started and we could see the smoke and this is literally the day of the ride. And they said we have to call it off, which that's roughly 2000 people you train for a year for the thing. It's, it, it's a lot of work and it's just that big letdown and disappointment of an inability to fulfill something that you, you know, work so hard to, to do. I figured, okay, well, I've got a couple of other little things that I can do come into [00:03:00] August, but in August I, every time I would go out for a ride, I'd have this sensation in my chest that was not right and had no idea what it was. Certainly could not be anything with my heart because I'm in great shape and you know, I'm trained up.

I'm ready to go and everything's fine.

Boots Knighton: and Jeff,

how old were you at the time?

Jeff Holden: 64 at the time. 66. Currently in 65 when I had my surgery. So we go and, and I'd go off for a ride and the sensation would start and it'd be a deep burning sensation in the center of my chest.

Not anything I would expect, a heart condition to feel like, but it was severe enough that it would, you know, get your attention and of. Being ignorant, you'd just ride through it and everything would be fine. And you'd go out and do another 40, 50, 60, whatever number of miles it was that day and, okay, that's, that's good.

ed even a little bit longer, [:

It was the best ride I've ever had with the guys. I'm older than everybody else there, so I was really happy about it. For cyclists, I didn't get dropped and I, you know, I, I had the sensation, I just pushed through it and I was so proud of myself. Right. Not knowing that that's about as dumb as you can be, but again, not thinking I had any sort of a situation. And then that night at the hotel, I felt it, it was like, That's that sensation that I get when I ride. Didn't do much about it other than say, okay, I'll go to the doctor on Monday, which I did, and I go to my [00:05:00] primary care physician and he goes, let's check an EKG and we'll get you chest x-ray. Make sure everything's okay.

EKG was a little wonky, but nothing, you know, extremely out of the ordinary. Just an arrhythmia. He says, I'm not really concerned about that. Now let's get the chest X-ray. Chest x-ray didn't show anything other than some compression on. Left ventricle just by my body type. and so they said, well, we wanna get you into the cardiologist on Friday. Okay, that's, that's fine. So this is Monday. It's Friday on Thursday, about one o'clock in the morning. I have that sensation and it's. Not mild. it's pretty excruciating. And I wake up and I tell my wife, Hey, this is it. This is that thing. And she goes, okay, well, you want me to rub your feet? And I said, no, it's not gonna really make much of a difference.

, only even more severe. And [:

And at some point it just dropped me to my knees and I just, I just sat there, um, you know, on my knees, just, you know, holding my chest, you know, arms crossed, just going, it just, this has to stop. I mean, I, I'm calling 9 1 1, which I did. They show up, they wire me up with the leads. Pulse, you know, the whole nine yards.

And the dude goes, you're having a heart attack, man. And I'm like, I think . I know that now. By then, the situation, the episode of pain had subsided. And so I'm sitting on the couch, they're looking at everything. He goes, obviously, we're gonna get you to the hospital. Do you have a preference where you want to go?

And I, I told them the, the closest one was this Roseville Sutter Hospital. I, I go to get up. He goes, you can't get up. I said, what do you mean I can't get up? I, I'm, I'm okay right now. It's fine. Stopped. It's all over. I'll walk out. He goes, you can't walk out. He goes, you're, you're getting on a gurney.

We, this, there's no option.

Boots Knighton: Wow.

gurney in my own house. They [:

He goes, oh, I'm a. Here's your, you're 25 years older than me though.

Boots Knighton: what was your pulse.

Jeff Holden: Uh, it was 46 or something, which is normal resting for me.

Boots Knighton: Oh, okay.

Jeff Holden: Yeah. And, and, but, and that's normal when I'm in good shape. So again, who's thinking anything's going on with your heart?

He goes, man, that's really unusual. So I get to the hospital and of course they go do all the processes. We do the uh, um, a CT and chest x-ray and. Eventually we end up doing an angiogram, but everything's looking fine. They don't see anything, echocardiogram, everything's fine. And they say what the dot comes in and he goes, you know, I, I think it's, it's probably just something we're gonna go in with a catheter.

hat's going on here. I said, [:

And we go through the process. The doc comes in afterwards, he goes, uh, there's, there's nothing to st. Everything's fine. And at that point, they hadn't seen anything that didn't reveal that there was any sort of bridging, because that's not what they were looking for. They were really looking for blockage or occlusion.

I don't have high cholesterol. I have great blood pressure. Everything's fine. Uh, a little bit of arrhythmia, but again, that wasn't of any significance. But what they did see as they were going through the battery of blood tests was elevated troponin, which is indicative of heart muscle damage. Hence, you had some sort of incident, you're, you're still rising.

In terms of your Chapin levels as you're in the hospital. So, you know, they're obviously aware that there's an issue here that,

Boots Knighton: me interrupt you

Jeff Holden: Go ahead.

Boots Knighton: But when you were. Still at your house before they had rolled you out on the gurney, um,

find the heart attack on the [:

Jeff Holden: yes.

Boots Knighton: Okay.

Jeff Holden: Yeah. He said You are having a heart attack. And I said, oh, okay. Which it doesn't hurt anymore. but what was happening is obviously the, the blood flow had been impacted for some reason that we didn't know at that point in time. And then what the next series of, of, experiences were is they put me into cardiac rehab.

They wanted to do some more tests because they really just didn't know what was happening. But I had. I was experiencing, you know, a fair number of PVCs, pre ventricle contractions, uh, as well as PAs, but not as concerning for those of us who now know that everybody has the PAs all the time. The PVCs are ones we have to worry about.

nto September as vasospasms. [:

Let's put you on calcium channel blockers. That didn't work. Let's put you on beta blockers. That didn't work. we're gonna give you Nitro for when you feel it and try it. That didn't work. I mean, I, I'd take the Nitro and The episodes would last three to five minutes. By the time I'm taking the Nitro and it's supposed to do something, the episode was already over.

So it

Boots Knighton: then you would just get a headache.

Jeff Holden: No, I didn't even get a headache. I just went on with my day. It was bizarre. And then what would happen? What happened? The, the real trigger in the, the, the big part of the episode was I'm in cardiac rehab, so they would wire me up, I'd go to my thing, I'm bored to tears because I'm exercising on a level that's so below where I.

I remember going through the [:

Hey, today was pretty good. No PVCs of any significance. Just a couple here and there. I said great. And I would always park upstairs in the garage at the, the top level. So I get the exercise up the stairs, so I go up to the top of the, the, the garage, uh, get in my go to get in my car. And I have one of those episodes again. And this one's excruciating. I mean, really, really bad. Not, not as bad as the heart attack, but the sensation. And I remember holding onto the rail of. Upper level, the garage. Just looking out at the compound going, this has gotta stop, and it subsides. At that time, I'm wearing a Holter monitor and I go home, I shower up, get ready, come into the office.

ust. Ventricular tachycardia [:

And it was the same chain of hospitals, but a diff different location where the, uh, electrophysiologist was. He goes, we gotta see what's going on. I said, okay, let me finish up. He goes, no, no, you need to do this right now. I said, okay, I'll, I'll head down there right now. He goes, no, , you're not heading down there.

nd, and next thing you know, [:

And I was there for a couple of days. And what the process was, we went through a cardiac mri. Showed nothing, uh, nothing outta the ordinary. they did another, uh, another ct, another echocardiogram, and the ep, the electrophysiologist came in and said, I don't know what's wrong with you. I mean, we don't see enough of anything that would indicate that there's an issue.

We know there is an issue because we can tell by your symptoms and something's triggering this vt because the vasospasms won't always show up on an ek.

Boots Knighton: Yep.

Jeff Holden: don't see them necessarily. Sometimes they can, sometimes they don't. Mine didn't. And so I'm in the hospital at length and they're trying to figure this out and I'm, I'm working from hospital, everything's, I'm fine, relatively speaking.

, I have no idea what you're [:

He goes, well, it's where your coronary artery, in your case it's the L a d left interior descending, the widowmaker artery. It passes through your heart instead of over it. And I said, what doesn't sound good to me? He goes, now it's nothing. Many people have it and it's not a condition that we're concerned about and.

Well, why don't we just go in and bypass it and make it go around the heart instead of through the heart? Maybe that is it. And I, I will never forget his look as he looks at me. We don't do that. That would be so dangerous to attempt to do that. and why would we when we don't think it causes an any symptoms, and to me, just mechanically, that seemed to make sense.

e and we can diagnose as the [:

The fact that we don't know why means we have to figure. What is causing the symptoms? So at that point they say it's beyond us. We need to have you go through some sort of provocative testing, which in Sacramento, uh, you know, the skillset, the experience and the chemicals just aren't available. And I, I applaud all of them for saying it's, it's beyond us.

We've gotta go somewhere else to get this rectified or at least identified. And one of the guys says, I know somebody at Stanford. Another guy says, I know somebody at Mayo. And then the other option was Cleveland, uh, Cleveland Clinic, because they were aware of the provocative testing being done there.

know, one of the best in the [:

Boots Knighton: Mm-hmm. . She did mine too.

She's amazing.

Jeff Holden: Yeah, isn't she? Uh, so we go in and I'm going through the process and at one point I remember saying to her, I, I feel that sensation and I think if I'm feeling it, you've gotta be seeing it because I know I'm all numbed up and I've got enough drugs in me that I shouldn't be feeling anything, but I am.

that never had another heart [:

But then the diagnosis was, and she diagnosed it right there. She goes, you need to have, you know, coronary artery bypass graft or cabbage procedure and, and a myocardial bridge on roofing. And I said, Let's go, what , what do we do now? So, uh, it was a very short period of time that it took to get into the hospital, and my surgery was January 4th, And it really wasn't much of a decision. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with the surgeon, who was Dr. Jack Boyd. And I do recall seeing with him. I go, okay, so, so Dr. Boyd, I'm coming in. You're literally going open me. and cut my heart. And he goes, yes. And I said, how many times have you done this before?

you rank ? And you know the [:

Comforting. And then the second question was, how many people have made it out of the surgery? And he goes, every one of them. And I said, okay, let

Boots Knighton: Sign me.

Jeff Holden: You know, when do we go? Yep. And he did say there's other people who have come with co comorbidities and obviously the, that was just one of their issues.

And they may not have taken care of themselves post-surgery. They might have done what they needed to do or other things. Got them. you know, nobody died on the table. And so that really put me at ease. And then we went through and we had our surgery on January 4th.

Boots Knighton: Wow. And you know, from what I. reading on our Myocardial Bridge Facebook support group that I encourage any new listeners who have not found that yet. Definitely asked to join the group if you have a myocardial bridge, because the group is just such a treasure trove of support and love, but mostly inform.


Jeff Holden: And I can only imagine, I found out about the group after the fact. and you know, my purpose in joining was to say there's hope. And not everybody's gonna be a candidate for the surgery with a myocardial bridge, but for the majority of people, they are. And for the majority of people, it will improve their symptoms and relieve some, if they and I.

t I know of that has had the [:

I know your story has probably been told a number of times.

Boots Knighton: Mm-hmm.

Jeff Holden: and, and how it's helped you.

And there's a, a really interesting byline here that I'll share with you as well as I'm going through. The diagnostic process. I have a good friend who is a cardiac nurse at that same hospital and she's talking with another cardiac nurse on the floor, and that person says, I know somebody that had that condition and had the surgery, and like, really?

Are you kidding me? I mean, there's not a lot of people that have had unroof surgery in the grand scheme of.

Boots Knighton: Mm.

uld, would you please get me [:

So she reaches out to the person. It turns out to be a woman who is in a marathon runner and a little bit younger than I am. She's 42 years old. She lives about 15 minutes from me

Boots Knighton: what

are the chances?

Jeff Holden: we connect. Uh, do you it it's, it's fortuitous. Unbelievable. Uh, yeah. I, I don't believe in coincidences and, you know, we, we connect and we spend a couple hours talking, and she had her surgery right about the time that I had my, my heart attack.

So she was done in August and she was about six to eight months in. And just telling me it's, it's so improved. She's now jogging, she's getting out, she's doing everything. And she has since now, maybe a year and a half, almost two years in, run a marathon again. So, not at pace, not as fast as she used to be, but that's still good enough.

ations where a lot of things [:

I just can't get to it as often as I'd like to because I see so many similar. To say, oh yeah, that, no, no, here's what you do for that. And no, tell your cardiologist, cardiologist this. and I know one of the things you asked in the very beginning of the podcast is, what do you get up in the morning for?

And, and part of it is to be able to share this story with people. I I, you don't wear it on your sleeve. When you walk around, you introduce yourself and say, Hey, I had a minor color of your bridge on roofed, and I'm here to talk about it. But for those who. You know, have a situation. If we can help them, you know, and give them hope and say, yes, this does improve.

and you have to be your own [:

Boots Knighton: That, but I would say that's the biggest part. Job, like I treated it as a job for a while. It's operation saved my life, . And I found that the advocacy was way harder than the surgery.

So speaking of your surgery, you obviously had a very, very good outcome. Tell us, what did you do to.

Jeff Holden: Well, I, let me address first the into surgery. So The thing I didn't realize, somewhere along the line, somebody forgot to tell me that the day before surgery, when you're going in, we, we had these catheters put down my back. It's a, a procedure. I don't know if everybody has that now, but it it relatively new where it numbs the, you know, the stern area or they're gonna cut and all that stuff.

I miss this? This is an an, [:

And I'm thinking, this is not fun. And I, I just recall the catheterization process down, you know, each side. And I had it, Stanford, obviously a teaching hospital, so I had a resident in there and I hear her talking to the doctor and the doctor's explaining, oh, no, no, just push a little harder here. And I'm.

that was, that was the first [:

But as I'm being prepped and ready to get wheeled in, A lot of friends were aware of the condition and the situation and the surgery, and I've got some friends who are also docs and friends who are pharmaceutical reps, et cetera. And you know, just that, that global awareness of people knowing that something's going on, who are praying for you or are thinking positively for you or sending a good energy.

And it was palpable. I, I, I'm a faith-based guy, but I don't know that I would ever have said, , I would notice it, but as I was going into surgery, it was amazing. And obviously this is all Covid time too, so, you know, I couldn't have anybody around. My wife was in, you know, another room and, uh, nobody but the surgeons and the, uh, the care team.

but going into surgery I did [:

I, I said, you must have been just a wreck. I'm like, I wasn't even worried, you know, the, the anxiety level was low and I just had that much confidence that whatever happened, Was what was meant to be. But I had everybody with me going in, and again, I share that as as much as I can as well because there's a lot of people go, oh, I, you know, I'm praying and nothing's happening.

Keep praying and, you know, and, and continue that support from friends and family and you know, who whomever can, can support you in the process because it was so real for me.

Boots Knighton: Wow.

And so you've had a really good recovery.

g machine. And then the rest [:

It just depends on your particular situation. But, uh, I did not really dig, you know, ICU at all, and I hadn't slept for almost 72 hours in the process. And a lot of the nurses down there are traveling nurses, so it wasn't people that had familiar with the ity area, you know, couldn't talk about the geography.

They were wonderful people. It's just that it's a, it's a process, you know? That was, uh, it was the sleep thing. The sleep deprivation is what got me more than anything. It wasn't so much the pain and, and all that. It was just getting through, trying to sleep and not because of noise or anything else. I think it was everything.

It was just, you know, the surgery, the complications, the drugs, you know, all that.

Boots Knighton: Yeah. Your body had just kind of been assaulted. You'd been in a knife fight, as my surgeon called it,

Jeff Holden: Right,

Boots Knighton: So the body's like, wait a minute, what happened here?

Jeff Holden: exactly. I [:

I've got it. You just keep an eye on what I'm doing because at that point, you know, you're doing your breathing exercises and you know, a little bit of movement and the stuff that you're doing and, that was probably the only time I remember being really rude to somebody. It was a guy irritated me.

It's like, no, you don't have me. I got me. No. Don't need anybody to do anything for me. I'll figure it out. I need to learn what's gonna happen here and I need experience it myself and, uh, In fact, everything worked out fine,

Boots Knighton: and Movement is medicine. Yeah. My, my ICU nurses got me out of the bed as soon as they could. I think it was within two hours of me kind of waking up. I threw up all over the floor. But

Jeff Holden: Ooh, that's no fun. After a sternotomy.

C U record for the number of [:

Jeff Holden: yeah, we got, uh, we got home. I was in, in recovery for four days. Begging to get out and they said, okay, we, we'll let you go. I get home and unfortunately my wife gets sick as soon as we get home, and, and she's, she was wonderful, wonderful, and, and has been is I, I love her to death, but she, she just held herself together because of all the activity and it literally, as soon as we get home, she's out.

She goes, I, I gotta lay down, I gotta, I can't function. I said, I got it. Don't worry. I'm fine. And I remember going down and doing the dishes and taking 'em outta the dishwasher and thinking, okay, I, I'm feeling pretty good. And it was maybe a week and a half later, we, we had a, little situation just with the, the surgery.

y significance. And I had to [:

Boots Knighton: No

Jeff Holden: So everybody that has had this sternotomy, you think two weeks out of it, and all you have is a chest cold that you're coughing, coughing, coughing, coughing, and you're supposed to be out walking.

And so I, you know, I did, you know, just kept walking through it and, uh, Everything worked out fine, but as you're going through it, the first thing you're thinking about, I'm gonna cough these staples apart, , I'm gonna, I'm just gonna rip this whole thing apart. It's gonna be a disaster.

It's gonna be surgery again. And you know, the good news is these guys know what they're doing and that typically isn't the case. I took that pillow with me, that little heart pillow that I'm sure everybody gets. And I had it with me for two months. It never left my side. It came to the office. It you in the car.

On my walks. It just, it was

at pillow is really helpful. [:

Jeff Holden: I still have mine.

Boots Knighton: Yeah, I, that's a very expensive pillow.

Jeff Holden: That's an understatement, but I'll take that pillow. Oh. Over the symptoms every day of the week.

Boots Knighton: amen. I mean, I say it's expensive cuz I mean it actually is and it's worth every penny.

Jeff Holden: Yes.

Boots Knighton: Mm-hmm. , what surprised you? The. About this entire experience.

Jeff Holden: The body's ability to recover and. As a, an athlete of some sort. you get used to things, you know, knees and feet and arms and shoulders and all that, and everything fixes itself. But to think that the organs of this significance can be touched by people outside of your body is beyond my comprehension and the ability for.

edical field to have so well [:

Boots Knighton: Beautiful. what's been the most helpful thing for you throughout this and what's been the least helpful for our audience?

Jeff Holden: The, the most helpful have been the circle of friends, you know, friends and family. You, I can't begin to applaud them enough for the support that they gave me. In, in emotional, in food. I mean, I lost 20 pounds in the whole process, that was the most fun part, was putting it back on because , I just got to eat like a pig and, once I was cleared to exercise, it was, it was great.

have been, just knowing that [:

I mean, I, I would look at the, and my wife so many times and think I know how I'm feeling. I know I'm gonna be fine, but I could see it in her eyes. She doesn't, and I can only imagine what that must look like when your spouse or significant other is going through this, where it's life-threatening and you go through your process of let's make sure everything's in order.

Let's make sure all the books are good, the house is taken care of, all the bills are aware of where everything is, what the financial situation looks like, all the password. By the way, if you haven't done that, and I don't mean you, but I mean you, everybody listening, you need to do it because you don't know at what point anything could happen.

be with you and you know it, [:

So that with the family, the kids, we have four children, and, and the ability to have addressed that and them to have gone through it with me. I think that, for me was one of the most, um, supportive elements of all of it. And then the, the downside, I don't. The fact that I'm here and able to continue to do what I do, obviously is, I think that goes without saying in, in terms of grace and gratitude.

to be doing it. And I would [:

And I would say I was probably pretty aggressive in, in the process, but I was in great shape going in, so I was still in pretty good shape coming out. I know a lot of people who have the condition have had it for a long, long time. And, you know, they're not in as good a shape and there are other, underlying conditions that could make their situation different.

But for me it was literally, I'm good. I'm not good. I might die. I have to get this fixed, get it fixed, and I'm good. the sequence of events is just miraculous to me. It's, it's just Mira.

Boots Knighton: Yeah. it's, it's a miraculous story

le bit of that discussion we [:

Boots Knighton: and thank you for being willing to do that because you could just go back to living your life.

Jeff Holden: right differently than I did. I am not an empathic person by nature, haven't been. I had an incident in the hospital, and this is probably a whole nother episode, but I'll give you just the cursory high level of it is, and I talked with several people who have had either near death experiences and or heart lung time off, so to speak.

ff of an hour. I didn't burn [:

And I don't mean just physical ailments, but I mean mental illness, mental health, homelessness, drug addiction. And when I came out of that episode, which when I was in it was not sure I was going to, in the experience I had, I'm in this am experiencing what these things must feel like to the best of my ability, not having really gone through them.

ocess and in the clock time, [:

Until the time I came out of it. And when I burst through it, it was this epiphany of you have to do something. These people have issues. You can't just look at them as it's their problem. It's, there's more to it. And that part changed my life. I remember I woke up when, when I opened my eyes, the sun was coming up.

It was a glorious, spectacular, beautiful. And I, I, I started crying, obviously, just going, okay, something happened here. I get it. My wife comes in, I'm a mess. I'm, you know, crying all over her. And I said, I'm here for a reason. There's, I have to figure this out right now. And a friend of mine said, you know, there's, there's the two best days of your life is the first one is the day you're born.

d this not happened. So that [:

so I'm gonna ask you, since we're talking about it, did.

Boots Knighton: Oh, often. But I'm empathic. I'm also intuitive. and I feel like my heart surgery almost turned me into a barometer. In fact, there's a few people in my life that just call me their barometer friend, and

the the surgery only sharpened my empathic abilities. and intuitive abilities almost, it's almost problematic.

Like I am having to work on not picking up everyone's energy when I go out of my

Jeff Holden: Understood out

re un unable to protect our. [:

And then while we're recovering, we're surrounded, we're exposed to everyone else's energies coming in and out of the I C U and the P C U during our most vulnerable time of our life, more than likely, except for when we're a baby. And so it's no wonder that we pick up energy, we sense things, it, it is just a normal process for an energetic being.

I'm a year ahead of you in my recovery, and I have found at, at the time of this recording with you and I, you know, I'm almost two, two years out and it has taken me about this long to really make sense of everything that happened. It's just such a. like monumental event in our life to have our chest cut open and our hearts literally touched.

ow, oh, you touched my heart [:

Jeff Holden: Turned off and handled.

Boots Knighton: Right, exactly. Yeah, because I too was put on the heart lung. . And for me, I also had the know only L a d but my L C X. And so, uh, I had multiple places in my heart cut into. So it, it's not just a simple bypass surgery like a lot of people have in this day and age.

You know, like it's a different deal. And I think if it didn't change someone, you know, the way you're explaining and how I. then I don't think the person's really paying attention. And I, Jeff, I, I really feel like they missed the opportunity.

or. It's hard when you hurt. [:

They are doing everything they can and there are comedic moments in all of this. And if you can find them, I think it eases the burden a little bit. Uh, I, I'm sure many of you who have been unroofed, certainly me, there's a survivor guilt here. And when you think of that purpose element, you go, why am I here?

amento who goes through what [:

Boots Knighton: and as we wind, uh, wind up our time together here you are gonna host your podcast, correct?

Jeff Holden: I am, I am What? We're a podcast studio. That's what we do.

as well. But this is what I [:

Boots Knighton: Mm-hmm.

Jeff Holden: No, thank you for that. Mm-hmm. , uh, the podcast name is Imperfect Heart,

Boots Knighton: Beautiful.

educate, entertain those who [:

And I think equally as important is to. Hear those stories in the medical community for the doctors and the cardiologists who maybe don't quite accept that this is reality that the myocardial bridge is causing and creating symptoms in many different situations. And I even believe, as I investigated and talked a lot more of that myocardial bridging may. Ignored in some situations where people have died and it just looks like, you know, sudden cardiac arrest because of a blockage. The blockage is the artery going into the heart, but it's not gonna look like that if you don't know you have a bridge. So I think we're gonna find and learn a lot in the next, you know, few years as the process gets mastered and people really are, be able to bed.

Uh, d.

opefully we can quicken that [:

Jeff Holden: Totally agree. That's cool.

Boots Knighton: Hmm. Well, thank you so much for your time today and, audience, please check out the, episode notes for ways to get in touch with Jeff Holden, also to find his podcast The Imperfect Heart.

so much for your time today.

Jeff Holden: So, so appreciative boots. Congratulations, and I look forward to many, many more episodes.

Boots Knighton: thank you.

And that's the show for today. Thank you for spending part of your day with me. The heart chamber exists because of you. If you find value in this podcast, consider donating to this cause. Go to the heart chamber podcast.com and go to the donate link. And hey, while you're there, feel free to leave me a voicemail.

other Tuesday edition of the [:


We rely on the generous donations of listeners like you to bring inspiration, hope and healing every week. Thank you for contributing to our cause.
We haven’t had any Tips yet :( Maybe you could be the first!
Show artwork for Open Heart Surgery with Boots

About the Podcast

Open Heart Surgery with Boots
A podcast for heart patients by a heart patient
Formerly called The Heart Chamber Podcast, Open Heart Surgery with Boots airs every Tuesday for conversations on open-heart surgery from the patient perspective. Boots Knighton explores the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual experiences of surgery with fellow heart patients and health care providers. This podcast aims to help patients feel less overwhelmed so you can get on with living your best life after surgery. You not only deserve to survive open-heart surgery, you deserve to THRIVE!
Support This Show