Frannie Argalas has worked with our ministry for 22 years. She has served as a nursing supervisor for more than a decade at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. In her free time, one of her favorite things to do is spend time outdoors with her loved ones.
“I have an active lifestyle,” Frannie shares. “My husband and I love to swim, kayak and travel. I love spending time with my granddaughters doing crafts, dancing and playing games.”
The active lifestyle that Frannie is known for is what surprised so many people when they found out she had a heart attack. Even Frannie herself never expected it because she has no medical history of a heart condition or a heart-related illness. She says it came completely out of nowhere.
“I don’t eat fast food, pack my own healthy lunches when I go to work and I work out,” Frannie explains.
Weeks prior to her heart attack, one of the earliest warning signs was numbness in her hands. Since the numbness wasn’t constantly present, Fannie’s physician attributed the symptom to carpel tunnel. Besides that, there were no major warning signs before her heart attack.
However, one day Frannie woke up with intense jaw pain. This was abnormal for her and she knew exactly what was happening.
“I immediately checked my heart on my EKG via my smart watch. It showed I was having a heart attack. I took three baby aspirin, called out for my husband and then collapsed on the floor.”
Frannie ended up staying in the hospital for 12 days, where the medical team removed a blood clot and placed three stents in her right coronary artery. During this time, she suffered ventricular fibrillation and went into cardiac arrest.
It wasn’t long before Darryn Appleton, MD, and Peter Ro, MD, removed the clot. Steven Fiser, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon, then inserted an Impella in the right and left heart to pump and provide biventricular support, allowing Frannie’s heart to rest. After two days of having the pumps in, the left pump was removed from Frannie’s heart as it improved. The right pump was removed on day nine, allowing Frannie to finish recovering the next few days in the hospital before heading home.
Now that this scary period of her life is behind her, Frannie spends much of her time raising awareness about heart disease.
“Please get checked out, even if you have no obvious heart problems. Always schedule regular checkups with your doctor, especially if you have a family history, so that doctors can catch things sooner rather than later. It truly can happen to any of us.”
Frannie is now thankful to be spending her time doing the things she loves most again: enjoying activities with her husband and three grandchildren as well as caring for those around her as a nursing supervisor.
Read more stories that celebrate our talented and dedicated nurses, like Frannie.
Also, learn more about the heart and vascular services we offer at Bon Secours.