ERAS Cardiac aims to improve recovery and prevent surgical complications by standardizing the care of heart surgery patients – before, during and after surgery. Comprised of more than 20 individual steps that may have minimal impact on their own, once combined have proven significant improvements in the recovery process for surgery patients.
Working 12-hour days as a sod farmer, often stacking up to 40 tons of sod each day is grueling work. It’s just the type of work that most people assume will keep your body – and especially
your heart – physically fit well into your 60s and beyond.
In June 2017, Christopher Perrott was age 64 and had no idea that a case of undiagnosed diabetes had caused damage to his blood vessels for many years without any indication. The first sign of any health problem came that day in June when he showed up at the emergency department for a painful infection in his toe, which he assumed was just a result of the manual labor that came with being a sod farmer.
After a thorough evaluation, Christopher was quickly admitted for complications related to uncontrolled diabetes and was soon also diagnosed with severe heart disease – including a blockage of
four major arteries. Christopher and his wife, Nancy were shocked to hear he needed to have open heart surgery as quickly as possible.
Born just outside the capital of Wales in the United Kingdom, Christopher admitted he hadn’t seen a doctor in more than 20 years since he was discharged from the Royal Air Force with a clean bill of health.
“I thought I was fit as a fiddle,” he explains. “After all, I was getting 10+ hours of physical activity and fresh air every day – and I was feeling just fine,” he explains.
A New Care Pathway for Heart Surgery Patients: ERAS Cardiac
Once his toe problem was under control, Christopher was on the schedule to have a quadruple bypass surgery at the WakeMed Heart Center with Dr. Judson Williams.
Fortunately for Christopher and his family, just a few short months prior, Dr. Williams and a multidisciplinary team had implemented a new care pathway for heart surgery patients known as Cardiac Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). The whole focus of ERAS Cardiac is to help patients like Christopher recover from heart surgery more quickly, with less pain, and without complications – and that’s just what happened.
“I was definitely worried about the pain and what recovery would be like,” relates Christopher. “My wife and I weren’t sure what to expect and with that, comes worry.”
As soon as Christopher arrived for surgery, the behind-the-scenes work of ERAS was well underway. While he doesn’t remember much from the day of surgery, he is definitely thankful for his entire experience, much of which can be credited to the work of Dr. Judson Williams and the entire ERAS Cardiac team.
‘I had open heart surgery – with absolutely no pain after the procedure,” explains Christopher. “I couldn’t believe it. Even when they asked me if I needed anything for pain, my answer was always ‘no.’ I was feeling great considering they had just opened my chest and unblocked four arteries.”
In just over a week, Christopher was sent home with a much happier heart.
“Over the past eighteen months, I’ve gone back for several check-ups, but Dr. Williams says my heart is in great shape and I only need to come back once a year now,” explains Christopher. “We head to WakeMed once a month to pick up my medications and we always make it a point to stop by and thank Dr. Williams for giving me a second chance at life – sometimes we even bring the staff brownies.”
Healthy & Happy in Retirement
Today, Christopher and his wife are enjoying a slower pace of life and semi-retirement. Christopher now spends his days working for a local car dealership as a valet driver.
He hopes to see some more of the country this year and spend time gardening this summer – in between his impromptu visits (with brownies) to the WakeMed Heart Center.
*This story was originally printed in the Winter 2019 edition of Heart to Heart Magazine, a WakeMed publication.