Chris Griner ..... Recovery of the Heart
Organized by: Allyson Nilsson
EVENT DATE Dec 11, 2015
Chris Griner is everyone’s friend. A fun-loving guy, who warms every room he enters with just his smile. He can make friends with anyone. And if you have met Chris, then you have experienced the twinkle he gets in his eye, when he teases and jokes with you. When you are around Chris, it is impossible to be in a bad mood. It doesn’t matter what he is doing - driving his beloved buggy in the desert or barbequing with friends, Chris has a passion for life.
But it is his enormous heart that makes Chris so special. Whether he is assuring a traumatized homeowner that all will be okay, or supporting a friend in need, Chris is always is there for his friends and family and always gives 300% to those around him.
His bright light was nearly extinguished several weeks ago. Chris’s ordeal began one the night when Chris seemed confused during a phone conversation with his lovely wife, Tanya. Although he had no history of heart disease, he found himself sweating and having difficulty taking deep breaths. When he began experiencing chest tightness, he’d took aspirin “just in case.”
Tanya had a bad feeling. She hung up, called 9-1-1 and rushed home to meet the ambulance. The EMS crew confirmed that Chris was having a heart attack. They headed to Northridge Hospital because they said it was “well known for emergency heart care.” In fact, it’s one of the first hospitals in Los Angeles County designated as a STEMI (heart attack) Receiving Center.
Chris was immediately brought to the Chest Pain Center where an electrocardiogram (EKG) revealed an artery was completely blocked by a clot. This can result in permanent damage to the heart muscle if not treated quickly.
The Cardiologist rushed Chris into the Hospital’s Cath Lab to insert an inflated balloon into the artery and placed a stent to permanently keep the artery open. The surgery was a success, however, Chris’ condition continued to decline.
Friends and family descended on the hospital to lend their support, while Tanya stayed with Chris in the ICU, and watched as his BP, oxygen level, heart rate all begin to crash. He’d entered cardiogenic shock, meaning his heart was unable to supply enough blood to his organs and his body was shutting down. This is a fatal condition if not treated immediately.
The Doctors believed that Chris also had mitral valve incompetence—a disorder of the heart in which the mitral valve doesn’t completely close, causing blood to leak backwards. However, surgery wasn’t an option in Chris’ grave condition. What’s worse, in lieu of a traditional ventilator, Chris needed an oscillator ventilator to pump oxygen at a rapid rate. The oscillator prevented Chris from being moved or transferred.
A whirlwind of activity ensued as doctors discussed Chris’s limited options. At last, they decided to quarantine the ICU so the team could insert the intra-aortic balloon pump—a mechanical device that’s inserted into the heart to help it pump blood, the team performed the surgery right there in his room since he was too unstable to move at all. Chris was then weaned off of the oscillator ventilator and back onto a routine ventilator. He was stable enough to undergo surgery.
About 24 hours after Chris’ heart attack, he was rushed into the OR for open heart surgery to repair his mitral valve and his ruptured papillary muscle (small muscle that anchors the heart valves). Success!
But he was not out of the woods yet. Chris remained in an induced coma, while his body was given time to recover from the surgery and doctors weaned him off the balloon pump. After an intense week, the doctors brought him out of the coma and removed the ventilator.
Chris remained in the hospital as they monitored his vital and he regained some of his strength. During this time staff from his initial care team came by during their rounds to see whom they called their “Miracle Man”, amazed that Chris pulled through.
Despite the new laws and many inquires by their employees, the last made ironically by Chris himself only a week prior to his heart attack, Chris’s employer does not supply their employees with health insurance nor other benefits which would aid Chris and his family.
Chris is now home but has a long way to go in his recovery - facing more tests, treatment and possibly additional surgery and therapy. Unfortunately, he is unable to work at during this time.
Chris and Tanya’s family and friends are joining together to help with the mounting medical bills and expenses. Here is where you can lead your support.
Let’s give back just a little of the love and friendship Chris has given to each of us and help him with his recovery of the heart. All proceeds collected here will go directly to Chris and Tanya to help them through this challenging time.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.