“The last thing I remember is seeing the gurney coming into my room,” says Ohrel. “And two days later, I woke up in the hospital.”
What Ohrel doesn’t remember is that she arrived at the emergency room with a blockage in her left artery that required immediate cardiac intervention. “We stented the artery in the catheterization lab and stabilized her,” says Michael Missler, DO, a BJC Medical Group cardiologist at Progress West Hospital. “However, the heart attack had caused a hole between the ventricles of her heart, a really rare and dangerous complication, so we transferred her to Missouri Baptist Medical Center, where they could surgically fix the problem.”
Within 12 hours, Ohrel had undergone two heart procedures. She stayed at MBMC for a week to recover. Before being discharged, she met with her cardiothoracic surgeon, Joshua Baker, MD, who told her to thank Dr. Missler, because he saved her life.
Three days after Ohrel was released from the hospital, she was experiencing difficulty breathing and came back to PWH. She returned home only to experience the same symptoms again.
On April 10, Dr. Missler performed an echocardiogram, or echo, a sonogram of the heart. It revealed a tiny hole on Sherry’s heart, which had started opening back up again as the tissue of her heart was weakened from the heart attack.
“We worked closely with the Missouri Baptist team to quickly transfer Sherry to their care, so they could perform the closure procedure Sherry needed,” says Dr. Missler. “In cases like Sherry’s that require really specialized treatment, we’re able to connect them to another BJC HealthCare facility, like Missouri Baptist, that can provide that treatment.”
After six weeks in and out of the hospital, Ohrel finally returned home. She was encouraged by Dr. Missler to undergo cardiac rehabilitation, which is offered at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, to strengthen her heart and improve her condition. She followed through, participating three times a week for three months. She was also fitted with a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) pacemaker, which ensures her heart keeps pumping in sync and can shock it back into rhythm if necessary.
Throughout her hospital stay, Ohrel was cared for by a multidisciplinary team.
“I didn’t meet a single BJC employee who wasn’t a terrific person. Everyone was kind and caring, from the physicians to the cardiac rehabilitation nurses to the staff in Dr. Missler’s office,” Ohrel says.
“It’s really gratifying knowing that regardless of the level of care someone needs, we can provide it,” says Dr. Missler. “We all have the same goal — to save our patients’ lives.”
Every six months, Ohrel has a check-up with Dr. Missler. Nearly two years later, she’s doing great and her heart is getting stronger every day. Dr. Missler says she is doing everything right: exercising, eating well and taking her medications.
“A lot of people put in time and hard work to save my life and I need to make sure they didn’t waste their time,” says Ohrel.
She says she is grateful to Dr. Missler and her entire care team for giving her a second chance at life. She enjoys reading, taking long drives with her husband and spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“I am so glad Progress West Hospital is here. If it wasn’t so close, I might not have made it,” she says. “It’s great to have these resources close to home. It was the level of care I needed, right here in my community.”
Watch Sherry Ohrel and Dr. Missler tell her story, BJCStCharlesCounty.org/Sherry