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  • Sarah Waara

A life saving test

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

An elective calcium test and compassionate care changed Dave Faulks life.

In May 2022, Dave — a Brookfield native — was at an annual wellness checkup with his primary care physician, Dr. Gregory Spielbauer at Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital - Elmbrook Campus. While everything looked to be normal, it was noted that Dave had high cholesterol, possibly caused by stress in his personal life. To find the root cause, Dave agreed to an elective calcium test. His results were alarming.

Showing extremely elevated calcium levels, it was determined that Dave needed a stress test

to determine next steps. The stress test results were alarming, too.

After the stress test, Dave underwent a cardiac catheterization procedure with Dr. Tejwant Singh at Ascension Elmbrook Hospital to potentially put a stent in his heart. Unfortunately, that procedure was not an option. Soon it was discovered that Dave had a serious issue going on and required a more advanced procedure.

On May 23, 2022, Dave underwent a quadruple cardiac bypass surgery with Dr. Vijay Kantamneni at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital - Milwaukee Campus. His surgery went well, and he was in the hospital for a week to recover.

“My heart surgery went well and I was home on Sunday night,” Dave said. “On Monday I was feeling pretty good at home, and our children came to visit. On Tuesday I was still feeling good, I was even able to walk outside and get the mail.”

Things quickly changed. After Dave tucked his wife into bed on Tuesday night, he was feeling sick to his stomach. After getting up to use the bathroom Dave collapsed, waking up his wife, which prompted a phone call to their son Jason to come over and help. Paramedics arrived shortly after and Dave was on his way to Elmbrook, slipping in and out of consciousness. While at Ascension Elmbrook Dave was in extreme pain, was profusely sweating and had an elevated heart rate and low blood pressure. Suddenly, he felt an insurmountable feeling of peace.

“All of a sudden this peace passed over me and I felt no pain,” Dave said. “I was there on that table in the emergency room that night, and in my hand I had a tablet with my life written on it. Sitting next to me, I could see God. I told him he wasn’t taking my life from me and all of a sudden, everything went black.”

Nearly two days went by before Dave woke up at — to his surprise — Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s. While at Ascension Elmbrook his heart stopped for nearly 90 seconds, prompting the transfer to Columbia St. Mary’s for more advanced care. After spending a few more days in the hospital, Dave was able to go home. What made all the difference was something frequently provided at Ascension — personalized, compassionate care.

“So many people invested their time and hard work into my care, and I am so appreciative of them,” Dave said. “Every single provider lived by Ascension’s mission statement and values…everybody really showed that they care.”

Today, Dave is healthy and is working part time for WE Energies thanks to 12 weeks of cardiac rehab, a healthier diet, an increase of physical activity and losing nearly 50 pounds. Being alive today is something that may not have been possible had it not been for the care he received at Ascension Elmbrook Hospital and Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital as he had less than a three percent chance of making it out alive.

“I am so grateful for everybody that was involved in my care — the doctors, nurses, technicians…everybody along the way. Not only did they do their job professionally, but they did it with true care and concern. I noticed every touchpoint along the way, from the people who cleaned my room all the way up to my surgeons, was incredible and that says a lot about Ascension.”


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