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Wake-up Call

When Deb Hinkle woke up one night in excruciating pain, she knew something was terribly wrong.

“My husband asked if I was OK and I said ‘Nope,’” Deb said. “I told him we were going to the hospital or I was going to die tonight.”

The pain was a surprise. Exercise is an important part of Deb’s life and she had been a regular attendee at her gym, usually three times a week for much of her adult life.

But the terrible pain that woke her that night, on her lower right side, seemed to be getting worse by the minute.

“I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so based on my reactions, my husband knew I was in trouble before I did,” Deb said.

She and her husband moved quickly heading to the Parkview Emergency Department in Pueblo West.

Deb HinkleDeb said she was admitted and seen right away and that the initial concern was that it was a kidney stone. But a CT scan at the emergency department revealed something more alarming. A blood clot had made its way down to her kidney and Deb was placed into an ambulance and immediately sent to Parkview Medical Center’s main campus in Downtown Pueblo.

Deb said she was immediately placed on an anticoagulant and put into a room where she figured she would spend the night.

Deb said she was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and atrial fibulation. She met Dr. Wallacy Garcia of Pueblo Cardiology Associates at the hospital.

“I was very fortunate to get Dr. Garcia,” Deb said. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of doctors in my 55-year lifespan, but he has to be the most compassionate I’ve ever seen,” Deb said. “He just exudes compassion.”

Deb said she relied on her husband and daughter to help her through what ended up a nine-day stay at the hospital, including a stint in intensive care after her sodium dropped to a dangerous level and a cryoablation and cardioversion performed by Dr. Kathleen Brown, also of Pueblo Cardiology Associates, to treat her irregular heartbeat.

Deb admitted that the stay became frustrating. She lost 13 pounds during her stay and wondered how it could happen when she dedicated herself to staying fit and healthy.

“Then my husband said ‘Deb you can’t concentrate on why me. There’s a bigger reason for why you got sick,” she said.

Deb said throughout the time she felt like she was treated very well by the medical staff and nurses at Parkview.

She said she saw how the people who cared for her worked as a team. After she got out of the hospital, her work with Drs. Garcia and Brown continued during her recovery. Dr. Brown suggested Deb make some changes to her diet and being trained in “biofeedback”, which trains her how to relax through breathing exercises.

“I basically have two speeds: full-speed ahead or dead on the couch. That might be why this happened. Maybe, who knows,” she said.

Dr. Garcia has worked with her and her primary care physician to dial in the right combination of medication to manage her health and for the first time in about a year since the clot, Deb was able to get back into the gym.

“Today, I’m not so much concerned with why did it happen or how; let’s just get better every day,” she said. “I believe I have two of the best cardiologists anywhere.”

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400 West 16th Street, Pueblo, CO 81003