“They found I had an artery that was ninety-five percent blocked.”
“I was in church,” Michael Coco remembers. “It was Easter Sunday, and I had a feeling in my chest, a pain I normally didn’t have.” At first, he didn’t think much about it. “Then, a couple of hours later, I felt it in my shoulder and in my arm.” The pain continued to spread. “It was about four o’clock that I turned beet-red and my wife said, ‘We’re going to the emergency room.’”
Coco, then nearing his sixty-seventh birthday, had had a heart attack nineteen years earlier, but had long since recovered. At that time, he had been an avid racquetball player. “I played five nights per week. The doctor told me that’s what saved me. I was in great condition.”
On the evening of Easter Sunday 2007, however, the uncomfortable Coco was quickly admitted to BMC and scheduled for a series of tests the following day. The results led to the next step, a cardiac catheterization at the BMC lab, in which a thin plastic tube (catheter) was inserted into a vein in his leg, then snaked through his body to the heart. “It was a nothing thing,” he says with shrug. You’ve got to lay still and they’re done in almost no time. There’s no pain. But they found I had an artery that was ninety-five percent blocked.”
That same day, Coco was dispatched to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for a PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) where a wire mesh tube called a stent was installed to prop open the artery.
“By Friday,” reports Coco, “I was home.” Soon he was working out at BMC’s Cardiopulmonary Fitness Center. “I work out on exercise machinery, I do a bike, an ab machine, a treadmill. Five or six different things, stuff you find in an ordinary gym. But I’m monitored all the time in rehab. You hook yourself up, a little box on your waist with three leads, one on the chest, one each on the side. It’s a predetermined routine. I’ve lost twenty-five pounds since my heart attack.”
“They’re wonderful here,” he enthuses. “A lot has to do with dealing with local people. It isn’t like a hospital where you don’t know anybody.”
Michael Coco, retired after working for many years as a fire inspector at General Dynamics, is married, with a son and a daughter and two grandchildren. The handball has given way to golf, but when the weather allows, he likes to play every day and, when it’s not too hot, to carry his own clubs and walk the course. The practice putters in his living room attests to his commitment to the game and his return to good health.