Four years ago, Pat Brickhouse began experiencing symptoms she knew were more than the normal wears and tears of 80 years of life. A doctor near her home in Chicago confirmed her suspicions: she had atrial fibrillation. "It got to be so severe that I couldn't walk more than a few steps without losing my breath," Pat tells us.
Despite treatment, Pat's symptoms went from bad to worse. "My legs were swelling up and filling with so much fluid I could hardly walk," she says. "I was in and out of the hospital — just lying there in constant pain."
So much pain that one day, Pat decided she'd had enough. "I called a close friend in Phoenix, Arizona, and I said, 'I'm not going to live my life like this. I'm getting on a plane tomorrow and checking into Mayo Clinic. Pick me up,'" Pat says. "Of course, it wasn't that simple."
But Pat did schedule an appointment at Mayo Clinic and got some answers. "They took immediate action," Pat says. Doctors at Mayo's Arizona campus suggested Pat undergo cardioversion, which would restore Pat's irregular heart rhythm back to normal by sending electrical shocks to her heart via electrodes placed on her chest. It took just one shock to restore her heart rhythm. "They said it could last for three months or it could last forever," Pat tells us "So far, it's lasted four years."
Those four years have been some of the best years of her life thanks in part to the cardiac rehabilitation program Pat joined following her procedure. Her Mayo Clinic cardiac rehab team told her it was important that she carry on with her life and continue exercising. "They designed an exercise program for me, and I now go out to the Scottsdale campus two days a week and work out for two hours at a time. I'm happy to report I'm the oldest person in the program," Pat says.
Not only that, but Pat has a perfect attendance record. "I've never missed an appointment, and I wouldn't miss one for the world because I've never felt better than I do right now," she tells us. "My legs feel perfect, my heart is wonderful, and I know it's because of the cardiac rehab program. I can say without a doubt Mayo Clinic saved my life. That's how I feel, and I'll always feel that way as long as I live."
And she wants to spread the word. She tells us that's why she decided to write about her Mayo Clinic experience in her new book, "The Pat and Jack Brickhouse Story." The book tells the story of her marriage to legendary Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse. "Mayo's become such a huge and important part of my life," Pat says. "I can't speak highly enough about the entire institution, and I'd get on a soapbox and shout it to the world if I could because they've been so great and have done so much for me. I feel better today than I did 10 years ago, and I know it's because of Mayo Clinic and their cardiac rehab program."
"The Pat and Jack Brickhouse Story" is set to hit Amazon and Barnes & Noble in May 2020. While you wait, grab a soapbox and share your comments below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.