Couple thankful for medical professionals during his New Year’s Eve heart attack

Published 7:04 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

A fateful day changed the lives of many in Vicksburg after life and death impacted them all.

Jim Bowman, 75, suffered a heart attack on New Year’s Eve and technically died before being brought back to life that day.

Full of jokes and laughter, Bowman reminisced on the tale of the trauma he lived through.

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Bowman was preparing to fry fish with family in town for the holiday when he felt a pain where his throat met his collarbone after swallowing food.

“That was the third time that week I had had that sensation right there,” Bowman said.

On this day, Bowman decided something wasn’t right and asked his son, Lee, to drive him to MEA Medical Clinic.

While at the clinic, Dr. Patrick Bynum gave Bowman an EKG, or electrocardiogram, and discovered what was happening. Bowman said his son could take him to the hospital, but Bynum called an ambulance instead.

“And all the time I’m going to talk the doctor into letting me get in the car with my son. I’d have been dead before we hit Clay Street,” Bowman said.

It was then that paramedic Jeremy Chavez and EMT, or emergency medical technician, Elizabeth McNeil arrived to the clinic and studied a picture of Bowman’s heart.

Chavez said the picture did look like he was having a heart attack, but because Bowman had previously had a heart attack, Chavez couldn’t be sure.

“Sometimes it can show old damage, sometimes that damage will stay there forever,” Chavez said. “Especially with the symptoms that he was having.”

Both times Bowman had a heart attack he didn’t feel any typical symptoms with only minor discomfort to indicate something was wrong.

“His particular condition and compliant is one of a kind,” Chavez said.

Before they could leave, Bowman turned red and started shivering and moaning.

At that point, Bowman’s heart was not beating but rather vibrating in his chest. Chavez had McNeil bring him the shock pads and they shocked Bowman’s heart back into rhythm, but Bowman was still unconscious so Chavez started chest compressions.

Seconds later Chavez looked at Bowman who was staring up and him.

“I said, ‘Are you all right?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ And I was like all right Liz drive,” Chavez said.

Bowman refers to McNeil as “Jehu” from the Bible verse 2 Kings 9:20 that refers to Jehu, the chariot driver who drove furiously, because McNeil got Bowman to the hospital, two and a half miles away, in less than three minutes. Chavez said a normal drive in half the distance takes about five minutes.

“I was excited because I knew how important it was to get there fast,” McNeil said.

Chavez said this kind of experience is not typical.

“This is the first time I’ve had somebody go from alive, talking to me joking with me, to dead and back to alive in less than a minute,” Chavez said. “In that aspect no, it’s not something that happens a lot.”

At the Merit Health River Region Medical Center, Dr. Timothy Trotter had finished his last surgery at the hospital before moving to Arkansas; however, when Bowman arrived the surgical team was called back to the hospital to perform the surgery. Bowman had to be shocked a few more times while in the hospital.

“The emergency room and the nursing was great,” Bowman said.

He said January and February are a blur to him and there isn’t much that he remembers. He doesn’t know how many hours, or days, after surgery it was, but he does remember waking up, wiggling his fingers and his first thought was, “I’m not paralyzed. That’s the first thing that went through my mind and when I got home the first thing I did before I said hello to anybody, I went straight to my piano to see if my hands still worked,” he said.

Now Bowman, who plays the piano, wants to record a CD of piano music for his family.

“It has been such a pleasant experience for us with these people, and it has been a great outcome,” Jim’s wife, Joyce, said about all the people who helped her husband during the past couple months. “We are more than well pleased with the ER and cardiac unit.”

The Bowmans gave specially made bumper stickers to Chavez and McNeil as a sign of their appreciation.