Heart and Vascular Patient Story: Mikel Holt

Mikel HoltAs an editor of the Milwaukee Community Journal, Mikel Holt is always on the lookout for a newsworthy story with a happy ending. A surprising twist made his own story turn out that way – although it could have been otherwise.

In many ways, Mikel’s life is similar to that of many of his readers. A middle-aged, married father of two teens, juggling the demands of parenthood and an intense career, he is a man always on the go.

Normally, Mikel manages the juggling act without a problem, but one day, he felt a little off. His energy seemed drained and he sensed himself slowing down.

“I have a family and I’m the editor of a newspaper — so when something slows me down, I notice,” Mikel explained.

“After I reported minor chest pains, my primary physician arranged for me to see a cardiologist.  I went through a battery of tests, including a stress test.  The cardiologist’s conclusion, however, was that there was nothing wrong with me, although he noted some irregularities with my blood,” Mikel said.

He pushed forward with business as usual.

“Six months later, the pain intensified,” Mikel said, “so I returned to my primary physician, who said she would look into finding another cardiologist. But, she suggested my problem might be acid reflux — based on the stress test results.”

“A couple of weeks later, I was taping an episode on the Charlie Sykes television show. The pain was intense and I was sweating throughout the taping.  After the show, Charlie ran up to me to find out what was wrong.  I told him it was probably acid reflux.  He was not convinced and later that day called my wife, who arranged for me to return to my doctor.  The next week, I was having lunch with a friend, who noticed me taking some pills my doctor had given me for the acid reflex.  We talked about my symptoms and the tests.  My friend suggested I see one of the specialists at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Heart and Vascular Center immediately, for a second opinion. I agreed and within a couple of days, I was sitting in Dr. David Rutlen’s office,” Mikel said.

Before he knew it, Dr. Rutlen was giving Mikel a newsflash: He needed a triple bypass heart operation. Fast.

“Everything happened so quickly; I didn’t have time to react. I was totally unaware of the extent of my heart problem.  Dr. Rutlen was insistent, however, and fortunately for me, my wife was there and sided with him. I had the surgery 24 hours later,” Mikel explained.

After surgery, Mikel Holt has nothing but great news to report.

“The cardiac surgery team was excellent. The follow-up care was excellent.  Several nurses cared for my basic needs until I started rehab — a six-week cardio program.  They were there every step of the way.  I can’t say enough about the staff.  During my hospital stay, they addressed not only my physical, but emotional and spiritual needs.  They were even available just to talk.  They made my stay at the hospital a positive experience.  I plan on spending my ‘new’ birthday with them (based on my rebirth).

“The second opinion saved my life. Dr. Rutlen told me that even though I was about to undergo a dangerous surgery, I was lucky, because I walked into the hospital.  Most people are carried in for emergency surgery and often, they’re carried out.  Fate was on my side, along with having caring friends and a physician with insight and intuition. And of course, I was lucky my friend was able to link me up with Dr. Rutlen.  I now consider January 22, the date of my surgery, as my rebirthday.”

Needless to say, Mikel Holt’s experience at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin resulted in the happiest ending possible for him and his family.


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