Heart attack cuts Afghanistan deployment shortIt was Eric Fisher’s sixth deployment, and despite a heavy work pace, things were going rather well in Afghanistan. That is until something happened that he could have never expected.
By: By Ashley Halladay , New Richmond News
It was Eric Fisher’s sixth deployment, and despite a heavy work pace, things were going rather well in Afghanistan. That is until something happened that he could have never expected.
“It was not the way I intended to come home,” Fisher said. “If anything I thought, maybe if you get shot, but a heart attack was the furthest thing from my mind.”
Fisher had been in Afghanistan for about two and half months.
In the late morning on March 13, Fisher was feeling anxious and agitated. After losing his Internet connection while Skyping with his family back home in Roberts, he began having difficulty breathing and felt a severe pain in his chest.
After waiting a few minutes for the pain to pass, Fisher realized something wasn’t right, so he headed to the clinic on base.
“I knew there was something wrong. I didn’t know if it was a heart attack or what it was. But I knew there was something terribly wrong.”
Doctors told Fisher that he had gotten to the medical facility just in time.
“The doctors told me it was a good thing I got there when I did, because I had about five more minutes left before I passed out, and probably nobody would have found me. So, I might have died.”
Fisher said the clinic on base couldn’t do much for him. After going to the emergency area, doctors gave Fisher multiple injections to try to stabilize him the best they could and “they flew me away to Germany,” he said.
Flying Fisher to Germany for proper treatment was crucial for his health.
“They had a plane full of 160-some people that was supposed to be going somewhere else. They cancelled all their flights, just to put me on a plane to get me to Germany, that’s how bad it was. They had to get me there ‘now.’”
Fisher said at first he wasn’t scared, because he didn’t know for sure what was going on.
“I was more kind of ticked off because I knew it was going to take me out of action. I only had two and a half months there, I still had time left to do,” he said. “When I actually found out what was going on, I was scared. I was really scared.”
After a nine-hour flight, Fisher arrived in Germany, where he underwent surgery.
Doctors found that Fisher had two blockages in his heart.
“One was a 90 percent blockage and one was a 60 percent blockage,” in the arteries that feed blood to the heart, he said.
Fisher said from the pictures doctors showed him, it appeared the arteries were collapsed.
Fisher’s wife, Carrie, wasn’t informed about what had happened to her husband until he was out of surgery.
The German doctor told Carrie that her husband was out of surgery and was fine.
Fisher said, “She was thinking, ‘Oh, God, what’s missing? Is he missing a leg or an arm? What’s going on?”
There were a lot of unknowns leading up from the time Fisher had surgery and the time he arrived home.
Carrie wasn’t given a lot of information by Fisher’s doctors and Fisher’s local base only had limited information as well.
Fisher arrived home on March 22. Since his arrival home he’s been on medications, awaiting doctor appointments and hopefully some answers on what’s next for him in terms of health and work.
Doctors have yet to determine what may have caused Fisher’s heart attack.
Other than Fisher’s grandmother having heart problems later in life, there is no history of heart problems in his family.
“The only thing they could really tell me was that perhaps it had to do with the stress. It could have been the altitude we were at, because we were up in the mountains a little bit. A combination of things could have contributed to it, but no one’s really sure,” he said.
Although Fisher has served 25 years and has retirement benefits built up, he says he’s “not ready to be done” with his military career.
Fisher said the outpouring of support from military organizations and people he met along the journey home has been amazing.
One simple gesture was the gift of clothes and a pillow and blanket, given to him by the Wounded Warrior Project, as most of his belongings were still at his base in Afghanistan.
Fisher was recognized on his plane ride home. It was announced over the plane intercom that Fisher had just gotten out of surgery and that his family was waiting for him at the gate. When the plane landed, everyone stayed seated and clapped as Fisher made his way from the back of the plane to meet his family.
“It was weird. It was kind of surreal,” he said.
The support didn’t end on the airplane either.
Carrie said someone on the plane gave Fisher a hug and thanked him for his service, and a stranger at Applebees paid for his dinner.
Fisher said it was amazing the support he received from people he didn’t know, who didn’t know his story, but just saw him in uniform.
Carrie said their entire family appreciates the support.
“I think that kind of support for the military is really important. That separation for the family is really hard. You have to go in auto-pilot and get done what you have to for that four months,” she said.
Carrie said sometimes it’s those small gestures that mean the most, “Like picking up the kids to drive them to a Scout meeting, all those things that people have done are just amazing.”