On a medical break

I haven’t been able to post here for the past week because I have been out on medical leave. On the evening of July 25 I received emergency treatment for what I thought was some type of heart attack at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital emergency center in Pierre. Thanks to one of our neighbors, Dr. Jamie Liudahl, who hurried barefoot from his house to our house when the ambulance arrived, and to the emergency room staff and Dr. Peter Maningas, the diligent physician on duty that night, the diagnosis was reached that I was suffering pulmonary embolism. That is a blockage of the main artery or one of its branches in a lung. Blood clots had accumulated in massive amounts in both of my lungs for 90 percent occlusion. As I understand it, my lungs couldn’t transfer enough oxygen to my blood. I was air-lifted by plane to Avera heart hospital in Sioux Falls in the middle of the night. I received treatment on Friday morning from Dr. Michael Bacharach in Avera’s cath lab. Via i.v. tubes, I subsequently was placed on a blood-thinner for my body overall and a special clot-busting medicine that was administered directly to the lungs for two days. An additional step was installation of a filter in a main vein in my torso to catch clots, if they form, before they move into the lungs or heart or brain. By Wednesday morning I had recovered fully — or as fully as possible after six nights in a hospital bed. The treatment was innovative, and the care generally was excellent. The hours of idle time gave me an opportunity to get glimpses into the lives, motivations and backgrounds of a variety of registered nurses and care staff. As I was able to start walking about a bit, or saw other patients walking past my room with their nurses or loved ones, I gradually realized that healthcare is really about preserving families and their most basic foundation of love. I will take blood-thinner tablet medicine for at least the next year. The reason for the generation of the blood clots remains unknown. I am cleared to return to work as of Monday, Aug. 5, and intend to be back on the job later that morning after a doctor appointment. I celebrated my return to regular life on Wednesday evening by mowing part of the lawn. To lift a line from an favorite song, it is always good again to touch the green, green grass of home.

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About Bob Mercer

I am a newspaper reporter in Pierre where I cover state government, issues and politics for the Aberdeen American News, the Black Hills Pioneer, the Mitchell Daily Republic, the Pierre Capital Journal, the Rapid City Journal, the Watertown Public Opinion and the Yankton Press & Dakotan. I began covering the Legislature in 1985 and have lived in Pierre since December 1986. I grew up in Wisconsin, worked my way through college, took my first full-time newspapers jobs in Wyoming, and have lived in South Dakota since the summer of 1984 when I moved to Aberdeen to join the American News. I worked for the Rapid City Journal as its state government reporter in Pierre from late 1992 through late 1998. I spent four years as press secretary and a senior aide to Gov. Bill Janklow during his fourth and final term from late 1998 through 2002. I returned to journalism in January 2003 as a self-employed reporter, providing state government coverage to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre and, depending on the year, Aberdeen newspapers. In 2008, the Aberdeen American News offered to hire me as full-time member of the AAN staff, with my reports continuing to be available to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre, Yankton and Rapid City papers. The new arrangement has been in effect since January 2009 as the seven papers continue their remarkable dedication to their readers and the general public, as the only South Dakota news outlets with a full-time reporter covering state government in Pierre throughout the year. In addition to focusing on the Legislature during the annual winter session and its various activities during the interim periods between sessions, I spend many days throughout the year -- traveling as often necessary -- to cover state government boards and commissions which oversee the state universities, technical institutes, outdoors, water, environment, business, public schools, banking, agriculture, utilities, health care and various other areas of public interest. I purposely don't register to vote because of my profession; the last time I recall voting in a presidential election was the first time, 1976, when I had just turned 18. I think I voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. Make of that what you want, just don't make much of it.

10 thoughts on “On a medical break

  1. Dave Bordewyk

    Am very glad to hear that you are doing well and recovering. Terrific that you received excellent immediate attention and care. We are blessed with terrific medical care in our region. Take care. Go slow.

  2. pperk7375

    Bob, so glad to hear you’re home and doing much better. Take care of yourself and I’ll see you in the halls of the Capitol in January.


  3. lrads1

    Nothing like a medical event to haul you up short. You’re blessed and South Dakota is blessed, (even though you’re not QUITE a native son–which is really better because it means you adopted us) that we will continue to benefit from your meticulous attention to detail.

  4. EML

    It’s “wunneful, uh-wunnerful” to hear you’re recovering well. I think a lot of us have missed your posts, and I wish you the best of luck in your continuing recovery!

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