By DAVID A. Wilson
It was August of 2009 when Larry Blank, owner and operator of Blanks Backhoe Service, had to go to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a heart problem.
First they diagnosed him with congestive heart failure, then discovered blocked arteries.
It was recommended he have bypass surgery. He was set up for a triple bypass at St. Mary's Health Center.
While waiting for the scheduled surgery, he woke up one morning with some bleeding. It continued through the day and about 2 p.m. he called his wife Jane and they went to the ER.
According to the tests, he lost about half of his blood while they were doing other tests to determine the source of the blood loss.
They certainly didn't want to do the bypass surgery while the bleeding was going on.
The source was finally found to be a little band of veins around the heart which were bleeding. The physicians went in and cauterized the veins stopping the bleeding.
On Nov. 2, 2009, he had the triple bypass done. A problem called A-fib (Atrial fibrillation or cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heart beat) then arose causing it to be decided to put him in an induced coma for about three weeks.
They kept him in that coma until the day of Thanksgiving.
"In that time, I lost all my body strength," Blank said. "It went so quickly I couldn't believe it. I had to learn how to get out of bed."
He was released on Dec. 16 from St. Mary's Health Center. From there he went to Capital Region Medical Center for week of rehabilitation.
"They wanted me to be there longer but I wanted to be home for Christmas," Blank said. "They let me out on Dec. 23."
He subsequently spent three of four more days in the hospital. He goes to a cardiologist about every three months.
He also had a followup to check out his lungs because of fluid buildup discovered by X-Rays. Some more surgery was needed.
"I was told I would be in the hospital for three to six days," he said. "It was six days."
To add to those problems, Blank said at one point he thought he was having a heart attack.
"One Sunday night I had supper, felt good, and went to bed," he said. "I woke up with terrible pain."
It started in the lower abdomen then went up between his shoulder blades.
"Anyone who has had heart problems gets concerned with these things," Blank said.
Jane drove him to the Emergency Room but the doctor who checked him out thought it sounded like a gall bladder attack.
In December of 2011, he was back at St. Marys with more fluid problems.
Then in January of 2013, they dealt with more fluid and the previous attack.
"They ran a needle in and drained the fluid. It took an hour and 45 minutes to drain," Blank said.
The draining was finished about 6 p.m. and about 7 p.m., they took him in to take care of the gall bladder.
His gall bladder was removed and he was kept a day then released.
"I had good care at both hospitals," Blank said.
In spite of all of the problems, Blank keeps active. He just doesn't do lifting.
"I feel good but I just don't have the stamina I had before. I still work on the backhoe, go to 20 Club and go to Nic Nac for coffee at 4:30 - 5 a.m. in the morning.
"My son Tyler helps. He does all the lifting. The doctors don't want you to lift over 20 pounds.
"I can still do what I was doing. I just don't do it as fast.
"You learn to pace yourself."