A Near Miss - A Survivor's Story

Geraldine Schlueter shares her experience of undergoing triple bypass surgery.

Geri Schlueter, a retired nurse, has always thought of herself as a young 65 year-old. She likes to get her exercise in with her husband.

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But one day, while at a fitness center in Rushford, MN, she began to experience what felt like a brain freeze while on the treadmill. She stopped immediately and sat down to rest. “We went home and I rested. I felt fine the rest of the day.” explains Geri.

A few nights later, she again decided to go and work out. She says, “Two minutes into my treadmill warm-up, my symptoms returned.” She came back home, and as a nurse, she checked her blood pressure, which was fine. She rested for the remainder of the evening, and went to see the doctor the next day.

That day, she saw Gerlyn Brasic, M.D., at Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska. Dr. Brasic ordered a cardiac workup that included a chest x-ray and an EKG. Later that week, Geri failed a stress test twice.

Next Geri saw Charles Cagin, D.O. Dr. Cagin scheduled her for an angiogram. Blockage was found, and Geri was informed that she would require triple bypass surgery. She explains her reaction, saying, “I’d seen the first triple bypass surgery in 1974, so I knew what I was in for.”

On January 21st, 2013, Alberto Pochettino, M.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, performed Geri’s triple bypass surgery. Everything went well, and Geri returned home to recover. She says, “As part of my rehab, I chose to go to Cardiac Rehab at Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse.” Geri visited as much as possible, going 3 days a week, for a total of 33 visits. “The Cardiac Rehab was such a positive experience for me. I met such great people.”

Minor road bumps are to be expected with such a serious surgery, and Geri did experience some chest pain after her surgery. She visited Jacqueline Van Manen, D.O., of Mayo Clinic Health System, Onalaska. Geri explains, “Dr. Van Manen provided me with some excellent care, and helped me get through that road bump.”

Mayo Clinic Health System honored Geri in February 2014 at the annual Go Red for Women event. In review of the entire experience, and on being honored, Geri says, “I’m so glad I had such a great team working to help me through this process. I’m glad we caught it, and I feel so lucky to be here today. I’m honored to be able to take part in this year’s Go Red for Women celebration.”