"They brought me back to life..."
James Johnson of Evensville has a lot to live for. Married for 37 years, he and his wife Frances have three grown children. When Johnson isn't busy helping his son run their successful family business--Johnson Machine and Dye Incorporated--he enjoys traveling, teaching Bible classes at his church, and playing bluegrass on his favorite guitar.
But when Johnson suffered from a severe heart attack after a shopping trip to Crossville, he almost left his wife without a husband, his kids without a father, his Bible study without a teacher, and the world with a little less music.
"We were in the car and I started feeling bad, like I had indigestion," he said. "It kept getting worse and worse. My arms and lips felt numb, and I began to wonder if it might be something worse, like a heart attack."
Johnson was rushed to the emergency room at Rhea Medical Center, where the staff monitored his EKGs, which at first appeared normal. His daughter had just left the emergency room to call friends and family to tell them he was okay, when suddenly, Johnson said, "I just flatlined."
Johnson had suffered from sudden cardiac arrest, a condition that usually results in death, and he didn't even realize it. Emergency staff immediately responded. Using a procedure called defibrillation, they sent an electrical shock through Johnson's chest wall to his heart. Once his heart rhythm resumed, Johnson was transferred to a hospital in Chattanooga where he was eventually treated with six bypass surgeries.
"If I had not been at Rhea Medical Center, I probably would have died," Johnson said. "And if they had not responded as quickly as they did, who knows what kind of permanent damage I could be dealing with now."
After his surgeries, Johnson continued his recovery through Rhea Medical Center's cardiac rehabilitation program. Coordinated by RN Debbie Williams, the cardiac rehabilitation program includes education, counseling, and an exercise program, and is designed to help heart patients recover faster.
"Needless to say, I'm a big fan of Rhea Medical Center," said Johnson. "I love the people there. They literally brought me back to life and they have been good to me ever since."
According to Johnson, that's worth singing a couple more "alleluias."