On a hot day in June 2016 Richard was fighting fire with a local volunteer fire department he was a member of. Little did he know that day would change Richard's life forever. After fighting the fire Richard went to a nearby ambulance to have his vitals check and cool down. Richard's heart rate and blood pressure readings were off the charts and not coming down. Richard began to have chest pains, trouble breathing, light headed, and nauseous. At this time EMS did an EKG and it indicated what was thought to be a heart attack at the time. Richard was rushed to the local hospital in Rock Hill, SC where he was advised that he did have a heart attack. A heart cath was performed and findings came back normal. Richard was referred to a local cardiologist in Rock Hill, SC to be further evaluated. The cardiologist did tell Richard that his thoughts was he had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, but then advised Richard he did not have such and it was more of just pulled muscle. Richard did not like what he heard and contacted the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. The founder Lisa Salberg got a referral for Richard to see Dr John Symanski with Sanger Heart & Vascular in Charlotte, NC. August 2016 Richard met with Dr Symanski who was able to look at previous echo cardiograms and other test to advise Richard immediately he had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Dr Symanski performed his own echo cardiogram and other testing to reveal that Richard in fact had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy w/ Left Ventricle Obstruction. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. Richard's fire fighting days were over due to this. Richard took this as a learning experience as he found out about a firefighter in NC had died recently from the same heart condition. You can see a news clip that Richard was part of in wanting to push for more in depth testing for public safety workers ( Firefighter wants emergency workers screened for heart condition that killed firefighter (https://www.wbtv.com/story/32698298/firefighter-wants-emergency-workers-screened-for-heart-condition-that-killed-firefighter/
) ). This has began a long journey for Richard and his family. Richard was placed on a regiment of medications over the years to help with symptoms. As the months to years passed Richard's symptoms of the chest pains, fatigue, short of breath, high heart rate, and high blood pressure worsened. Richard has gotten to the point to it is hard for him just to walk a short distance without having symptoms. He can play with his kids, Joseph and Jordana like a normal father would. Even helping out his wife, Karolina with everyday household chores are hard. Richard has been in and out of the hospital due to his symptoms getting really bad. In May 2019 Richard went back to see Dr Symanski to be told his heart rate has not really stayed down and was given another medication to take. This medication caused the opposite effect and Richard had to be taken off the medication. At this point Dr Symanski had ran out of options on his end and medications. Richard was referred to a heart surgeon. June 2019 Richard saw Dr Watts who showed Richard a previous cardiac MRI from 2016. Dr Watts showed Richard how thick the septum was back then and how small the area was for blood to flow through the heart. Dr Watts indicated that surgery could have been done back in 2016, however they try to treat by medication first. Dr Watts advised Richard that the septum has increased significantly since 2016, that is reason why the medication has stopped. July 2, 2019 Richard will be having a open heart surgery called a Septal Myectomy. The surgery consist of the heart and lungs being placed on a heart & lung machine. Then part of the septum is removed. There are risks for this surgery, as it is the most dangerous surgery one can have. However, the success rate is at 90% and patients will feel a difference right after surgery. Richard is looking at a 3-4 hour surgery then in ICU for 2 days with a total time in the hospital of about 5-7 days. Recovery time is 3-6 months, depending on surgery and how well recovery goes.
Richard is currently employed full time w/ benefits as a Sergeant with Novant Health Public Safety. However, Richard was denied getting Short Term Disability due to the heart condition. He is being blessed by some co-workers who are donating time to him and he will of course will have FMLA. As you know FMLA does not pay while being out. Richard have his house mortgage and other expenses to worry about. His wife, Karolina is currently on disability due to breast cancer and is still having complications from it. Her income is very little each month. As well she will be taking care of Richard along with Joseph & Jordana........ SO HAVE A HEART & LETS HELP RICHARD"S HEART!!!!