A local golfer goes to the emergency room and just days later she's back on the fairways; doctors say it's all because of a new kind of heart procedure performed right here in the Tri-Cities.
It started out as aches and later turned to pains. 78-year-old golfer Lucy Rye tells us she didn't think much of it at first.
"I just continued to think, oh well, maybe it's age," she said.
But as it continued, Rye decided to see her doctor. It was a smart move -- she later found out two of her arteries were severely blocked. "You could've knocked me over with a toothpick when I found out I had 80 percent blockage in two arteries," she said.
Rye tells us doctors decided almost immediately to do a catheterization, but not a normal one. "It was just a pin prick on my wrist. No bruising or anything. It was absolutely amazing," she said.
Dr. Marc Mayhew explained to us that most catheter procedures put stents in through the artery of the groin to reduce blockage. For the past year and a half, many patients are asking for it through the wrist. "What's nice about it is the risks of bleeding and complications are much much less, and it's certainly much more comfortable for the patients," Dr. Mayhew explained.
Dr. Mayhew told us it also allows for a speedier recovery. "Patients are immediately able to sit up in a recliner, enjoy a cup of coffee, have breakfast and go home within a matter of hours," he said.
That great news when you're as active as Lucy Rye. "My primary doctor told me I could do anything I wanted to do and so 10 days later, I was on the golf course," she said.
It's also reminded her how important it is to not ignore a body that's telling you something's not right. "I just feel thankful that the good Lord that he steered me in that direction to check it out."
Here are some more facts we learned -- wrist catheterizations are fairly common procedures in Europe and Canada but it's just now starting to gain popularity here in the US. Wellmont has done several hundred of them over the past year and a half.
While it can be a great alternative for many patients, those with small or twisted veins may be better served with the standard option.