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Cardiology, pulmonology and sleep center teamwork saved my life.

I’ve always been bullheaded about my health, kidding that my tombstone might say “He was not a hypochondriac!”  Most of my family members have thankfully lived into their late 70s, early 80s (or even 90s).  I never smoked, didn’t drink much, never snacked, and, until a few major orthopedic injuries took their toll, I enjoyed competitive sports.  In most respects I was an energetic guy.  A few years back, however, I was exhausted at the end of the day.  I chalked it up to getting older, thinking “Aging is a bummer!”   I had no idea a virus had weakened the left side of my heart.  I continued to plow through it all until one Saturday morning, after two fitful nights of not sleeping well, I couldn’t function normally.

That Saturday morning, my wife Karen called and got an appointment right away with Brad Bernhard, M.D.  at Southwest Medical Group.  An EKG came back showing some problems.  Dr. Bernhard told me I ought to get it checked out.  In typical fashion, I wanted to put it off because I had a lot of work scheduled for the following Monday.  I said, “I don’t have time right now. Couldn’t you give me something to get me through this until Tuesday morning and then I’ll do whatever you want?”

“You’re not understanding the importance of this,” Dr. Bernhard said firmly. “Do you want to go to the hospital in an ambulance, or do you want your wife to take you there now?”  Obviously my life changed from that moment forward.  My story is a testament to the medical smarts, skilled treatment, care, coordination and teamwork between a whole host of people, all at or very closely affiliated with St. Anthony’s:   Cardiologist David Dobmeyer, M.D., (and staff), electrophysiologist-cardiologist Greg Botteron, M.D., and crew,  pulmonologist Dr. Kirk Nelson, sleep technologist Tom Mayer and St. Anthony’s Sleep Center– plus all of the wonderful folks in Cardiac Rehab.

They tackled what turned out to be congestive heart failure and sleep apnea with a myriad of treatments:  surgery, cardiac catheterization, an implanted Biventricular ICD device (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator), a sleep study, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, and plenty of rehab.  I recently built a small gym in my basement to continue those exercises!  These skilled medical practitioners, all working together, unraveled a medical puzzle with an obstinate, pigheaded guy (me!).   If my body hadn’t reacted the way it did to their skilled treatment, Dr. Dobmeyer said I would be on a heart transplant list today.  But now it seems all indicators now are positive and pointing up.

When you’re in the crux of not knowing what is going on – and have skilled and caring folks rooting for you – well, it’s a beautiful thing.  I get emotional even talking about it.  Everyone I came into contact with at St. Anthony’s, from the docs to the nurses, to the technicians and aides – each truly made a difference in my life, giving me a second chance.  I’m now back at work and moving forward:  I have each of them to thank.

 A couple of my friends used to call me “Awesome Dave”:  Now they call me “Bionic Awesome Dave.” I like that because the initials are “B.A.D.”  I just celebrated my 60th birthday.  My wife asked me how it feels to look younger than I did 5 to 10 years ago.  Ironically, feeling B.A.D. feels just great!

Dave Gilbert
Webster Groves


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Working as trusted partners, the physicians and employees of St. Anthony's Health System will deliver care distinguished by its demonstrated quality and personalized service. We will be visibly engaged in improving the health and well­ being of the communities we serve in South County and beyond. We will stand together, proud to set the standard for independent community health systems.