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There’s so much a motivated person can achieve in 8 minutes. But on August 9 of 2019, I had 8 minutes to live. -Brad Spencer*

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Outstanding Heart Care,
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Brad Spencer, Heart patient at Beacon Community Hospital of Bremen

In Eight Minutes, A Life Can Change

Brad Spencer has done just about everything. He has served his country in the Marine Corps, backpacked all 50 states (as well as Europe and Asia) and ridden his motorcycle 1300 miles to Tennessee. He was a helicopter pilot for Lifeline Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis (he got his pilot’s license before he had his driver’s license), and even worked as a bouncer at a club in Indy. He’s an electrician. He has bred show horses, competing and winning at the national level. Most importantly, he’s a husband and a father of two children, ages 14 and 11.

Clearly, Brad loves adventure, having spent so many years of his life on the go. But on August 9, 2019 – eight minutes changed everything. Eight minutes that, in a heartbeat, had the most profound impact on his life.

There’s so much a motivated person can achieve in 8 minutes. But on August 9 of 2019, I had 8 minutes to live. – Brad

Thankful for every day

He woke that day like any other. Then the chest pain hit. “I can handle a lot of pain,” Brad says. “I fought it, but it kept getting worse.” By 3:00 that afternoon, it had become unbearable. He asked his wife to take him to the hospital. She drove him to Beacon Community Hospital of Bremen – eight minutes from their home.

Brad was in the throes of a heart attack. “I vaguely recall going in and out of consciousness. We made it to the hospital… that was the last thing I remember,” Brad explains. “After they stabilized me at Bremen, they transferred me to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. They put stents in my heart right away to get my arteries opened back up. I was starting to feel better.”

It was at that point that Brad’s surgeon implanted a pacemaker/defibrillator, a device which would continuously monitor his heartbeat and deliver electrical pulses to restore a normal heart rhythm when necessary.

Brad returned home, grateful for the care that had saved his life. “I’m a younger guy. I didn’t see it coming. I never felt sick,” he says. “My doctor told me, ‘Somebody’s looking out for you, because you shouldn’t be here.’ If I had tried to drive the 42 minutes from my home to South Bend, I wouldn’t have made it. You just have to feel grateful for every day you’re alive.”

The Bremen Community Is Like Family

Brad credits the team at Bremen Hospital for his second chance at life. “Bremen’s a small community. Everybody knows each other. It’s like a big family.” He adds that, “Chances are, if you walk into that hospital, you’ll know a good deal of the patients and people who work there.”  For Brad, that translated into a great deal of confidence in the care he received. “They treat you with respect and kindness and compassion.”

“When you go into a situation like this, there’s a feeling that everyone already has your back. They live and work here. You get to know one another. Compared to a big city hospital… you’re going to be a whole lot better off.”

Today, Brad is doing better than ever, and he tries not to think in terms of his own mortality. “I feel lucky. And very grateful,” he says. He also maintains his sense of humor. “I take it every day as it comes. I mean, I died twice. I just figure at this point, the devil didn’t want me and kicked me back out.” When he was home again and cleared to drive, Brad’s first priority was to return to Bremen Hospital and thank the people who saved his life. “Because of the Beacon Hospital in Bremen… 8 minutes away… I’m alive.”

“Because of the Beacon Hospital in Bremen… 8 minutes away… I’m alive. - Brad

After the procedure, when Brad had difficulty sleeping. “It was just in the back of my mind… am I going to wake up or not.” But his nurse reassured him. She sat in there with me and told me, there are cameras all around here. You’re fine, you can sleep. This is something you just have to get through.”

Know Your Risk

While anyone can be at risk for cardiovascular disease or stroke, your risk increases based on age and family history. High blood pressure or unhealthy blood cholesterol levels can also play a major role.

Some risk factors, such as family history, can’t be controlled, but the good news is that you can take control of certain lifestyle-related aspects of your health to better protect your heart – and your life.

Beacon Health Foundation’s focus is a direct outgrowth of Beacon Health System’s deep commitment to enhancing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of the communities we serve. Our tax exempt identification number is 35-1536129.

*The quotations provided in this article are part of a testimonial from Brad Spencer; a patient at Beacon Community Hospital of Bremen.