by ANNA CLAIRE O’CAIN
Richard Conn, a resident of Summit, shares about his experience with a heart attack and stroke and how God used workers at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson to provide him and his wife, Sheila, with care and support through his healing journey.
The days leading up to Richard’s heart attack and stroke at first seemed to him like any other week. “I was real big into exercising,” he says. “As age came on, I started doing speed walking. I got to where I’d go down two miles, then turn around and go back to my truck.”
Walking his usual distance and tracking the time on his phone, Richard felt that something was not right. “I noticed that my time was off. I didn’t really feel bad, but I came home and told Sheila, ‘My time is off, and I don’t know why.’”
His wife reassured him about the increasing heat and humidity of the June weather and encouraged him to keep monitoring things over the next day or two. “The day after the next day, I went again, and I was even slower,” Richard says.
Sheila then recommended that Richard go to the doctor to see what was going on. “So I went to STATCare (medical clinic) in McComb and the doctor did some tests. … everything came back and (the doctor) said, ‘Listen, I need to send you to the hospital now, because you are having a heart attack. It’s ongoing.’”
Richard went to the hospital — but Sheila, who had recently undergone cancer treatments and a double mastectomy, was not able to enter. “Because of the hospitals and everything being closed down at that time (due to COVID-19), my wife couldn’t get in, especially with her surgery and the situation.”
Then, before the doctors could perform the surgery to repair his heart, Sheila received a call that things with Richard had gotten worse. “Next thing I know, my wife was getting a call saying that (her) husband is now in a helicopter going to St. Dominic because he’s had a stroke.”
Since Sheila couldn’t drive due to her recovery, her sister drove her to St. Dominic’s in hopes of Sheila being able to see Richard. Shortly after Sheila was dropped off at the hospital, God placed Carrie Clark, BSN, RN, and St. Dominic’s director of nursing services, in Sheila’s path.
Richard explains, “(Carrie) happened to be walking around the hospital …. Sheila was walking with her stuff and Carrie came back and got a cart (for her). She took care of Sheila.” Carrie made sure Sheila had something to eat, then they went on up to the ICU to where Richard was.
“The amazing thing about it was that Sheila told Carrie, ‘Is there a waiting room? Where can I (stay)?’ Carrie said, ‘No, you are going to be in the room with your husband.’ That was unheard of,” Richard says.
The care that Richard and his wife received at St. Dominic was astounding, he says. “We just fell in love with St. Dominic. The hospitality and the doctors and nurses, the care that I got. They gave my wife the same care and (were) concerned about her situation.”
Richard shares that the Lord has since blessed him with a miraculous recovery, even from the start of his rehabilitation. “Believe it or not, it’s an answered prayer,” he says.
“I had my first stroke doctor appointment and he was amazed at how well I was recovering. ‘This is a miracle that you’ve recovered so fast,’ he said.” Richard replied, “God knows I am going to have to take care of my wife. We have really been blessed by God.”