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Hearts that matter

Cindy Grant loves to paint rocks.

The stones, covered in vibrant colors and whimsical designs, fill a bookshelf here and a planter there around her home and, just recently, caught the attention of potential customers.


Cindy painting at home

“My specialty is Nativity scenes,” she said.

A few people had made special orders for the unique gifts. But in late December, after a regular echocardiogram for her heart murmur revealed a mitral valve regurgitation, things stopped.

“They told me a valve that was supposed to be closing wasn’t,” Cindy said. “I had no symptoms. Sometimes when I’d walk I’d have shortness of breath, but I took that to mean I’m 63 years old and I get winded from time to time.”

After more rounds of tests, Dr. Matthew Sumpter determined Cindy was a candidate for valve repair surgery and she was faced with a difficult task of choosing a hospital.

She wanted to stay home and chose Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colo.

From there, Parkview’s staff went to work, planning the procedure and putting her and her husband, Bill Thomas, at ease.

“I hadn’t had surgery since like 1976, so I was scared to death,” Cindy said.

During the pre-op process, Cindy said she visited with doctors and hospital staff and got a better idea for how things would progress.

The surgery lasted six hours and her husband said he appreciated the regular updates from hospital staff and surgeon Dr. Fernando La Mounier on how the procedure was going.

Cindy stayed in the hospital for four days following the surgery. She said she was pleasantly surprised to have a private room and was happy to be able to enjoy meals with her husband.

“The food was good and it was nice that Bill would come visit, and for $7, he could pay for a tray of food and we could have our meals together,” she said. “We were just thrilled to be able to stay in town.”

Cindy said the entire cardiac line nursing staff during her stay was incredibly helpful.

“I just felt well taken care of,” she said. “All of them were helpful and cared and it was basically everything you could hope for.”

When it was time to go home, Cindy said she was fearful again, but Parkview’s physical therapists and home care nurses helped make her transition a smooth one.

“I was scared to come home,” she said. “But once you come home, after that first night, you do heal faster and better.”

Now Cindy has returned to her garden and to her rocks, starting a new line of cherry red hearts to commemorate her experience.

“Everything worked perfectly,” she said. “I feel great.”

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400 West 16th Street, Pueblo, CO 81003