Back in the Game “I could not have asked for better care, more urgent care, more compassionate care than I received at CHRISTUS St. Michael,” Greg says.

Greg Eakin weights - heart
Heart attack survivor Greg Eakin at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health & Fitness Center

Greg Eakin went to bed on Sept. 30 only to find his early Thursday morning slumber interrupted by radiating pain in his left shoulder, significant nausea and profuse sweating. He woke his wife, Tami Parker Eakin, and she was wise enough to insist they call for an ambulance.

Upon arrival at the couple’s residence in Wake Village, Texas, the LifeNet EMS crew determined very quickly Greg was likely experiencing a heart attack based on his symptoms, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and conversations with the emergency room at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. “I barely got the words out about m y symptoms before they were popping baby aspirin in my mouth,” Greg explains. “The EMS call to the hospital launched a chain of events that set the CHRISTUS St. Michael Heart Team in motion, and the crew was able to s tart my care right in m y own home. They gave me nitroglycerin and morphine, and I was transported to the emergency room, where the hear t team was waiting on me when I arrived.”

“I was taken straight to the Cath Lab, where Dr. [Charles] Melton, [M.D., cardiologist with Texarkana Cardiology Associates,] and the Cath Lab staff were ready to conduct a left heart cath,” Greg says. “That determined I had 100 percent blockage in two arteries and 20 percent in the third and I was in the process of a heart attack.” Kiran Kurichety, M.D., also with Texarkana Cardiology Associates, performed an angioplasty procedure, placing two stents that restored blood circulation to Greg’s heart. “It’s amazing how quickly after we called LifeNet that my stents were in place, and I felt like walking home,” Greg says. Greg was discharged from the hospital in fewer than 60 hours from when he first arrived — just in time to see a 2:30 p.m. college football kickoff on Saturday afternoon.

Home Field Advantage

“I could not have asked for better care, more urgent care, more compassionate care than I received at CHRISTUS St. Michael,” Greg says. “It started with the ambulance crew; they were great. And all of the members of the heart team from emergency services, to the Cath Lab, my physicians, ICU and the medical floor — they provided outstanding care.” Greg admits he would be remiss if he didn’t acknowledge how much help Tami, his “unbelievable spouse and friend,” has been throughout his health crisis. “Not only did she realize quickly that I needed an ambulance, she has been by my side every step of the way,” he says. “She is always encouraging me to take better care of myself. “I also want to thank the health care professionals from LifeNet, CHRISTUS St. Michael, Dr. Melton and Dr. Kurichety for caring about people,” Greg says. “We in the community need to keep in mind that every day they are saving lives. They do their jobs well, and we need to appreciate them more.”

No Longer Sidelined

A self-confessed avid outdoorsman and sports addict, Greg Eakin, owner of HomeTeam Inspection Services, was determined to get back to his “normal” life as quickly as possible after his heart attack on Oct. 1. In addition to his busy schedule as a home inspection professional, Greg devotes time to his wife, Tami; four children, Ashley, Cory, Brooks and Brett; and his grandchildren, Jaden and Azalan. He also referees high school football games, hunts, leads a church group, and volunteers for the Salvation Army, Texarkana Friendship Center and Randy Sams projects. Prior to his heart health issue, he exercised several times a week at the CHRISTUS St. Michael Health & Fitness Center. Within a few days of being released from the hospital, he took to the treadmill again under the watchful eye of Health & Fitness Center manager Mike Riley, a friend and referee colleague.

Back in the Game

In his quest to return to previous activities, Greg participated in the CHRISTUS St. Michael Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program and highly commends the program recommended by cardiologists for heart patients in their recovery journeys. “It is an impressive program that helped me get back on the football field and into the deer woods more quickly,” he says. “Two weeks and one day following my heart attack, I was at AT&T Stadium working a game. The game was great, and I had no issues — especially with my referee friends and even the coaches keeping an eye on me.

“Some of the coaches joked with me, saying ‘It’s interesting to learn you had a heart attack because we didn’t think you had a heart,’” he says with a laugh. Greg didn’t retaliate with extra penalties, and thanks to the heart team at CHRISTUS St. Michael and cardiologists Charles Melton, M.D., and Kiran Kurichety, M.D., his heart is still in the game.