Rick Foster, Retired, Boynton Beach Resident. New York Mets & New York Giants Fan. Drummer, Actually Gene Krupa Wannabe.
It started out with an infection in my lungs which caused respiratory problems. I went to a local walk-in clinic and they wanted to admit me to another hospital, I said no, I want to go to Delray Medical Center because that is where my cardiologist, Dr. Eric Lieberman, who has been my cardiologist for over a decade, is located. When I got there, I was in atrial fibrillation (AFib) and Dr. Lieberman converted me with the paddles. He zapped me to get my heart back in correct sinus rhythm.
This critical infection went to my kidneys. I developed kidney failure and was put on dialysis. From all the stress I was on, heavy doses of antibiotics, I developed stress ulcers and began bleeding internally. My lung didn’t collapse, it folded over. My body was revolting against everything – I had a feeding tube and a tracheostomy tube for breathing. I was on heavy doses of propofol. I was circling the drain. My file was thick – it seemed I had everything wrong with me. A talented medical team at Delray Medical Center pulled me back out by my ankles.
Dr. Lieberman was one very intent physician. He came to the hospital every day and if my wife missed him, Dr. Lieberman would call her every time he saw me. He told her what he found, what was happening and what the next steps should be. Words describing Dr. Lieberman that come to mind – laser accuracy and aside from his vast medical knowledge, he is truly a caring individual. I am fortunate to have him for my doctor and I’m certain that goes as well for the rest of his practice.
Dr. Lieberman hones in on the situation. There is warmth when you’re under his care. Dr. Lieberman has been my wife Barbara and my cardiologist for the last ten years.
The nurses and team of doctors at Delray Medical Center and Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital were amazing. I was in the hospital for three months. Dr. Lieberman worked closely with a pulmonologist, a nephrologist and ordered a gastroenterologist who was able to do two procedures in my room while I was out. That was huge because I didn’t have to leave my hospital room. All the while, Dr. Lieberman monitored my heart which was under a lot of stress and in risk of cardiac failure. When it was all over the nephrologist who was managing my case along with Dr. Lieberman told my wife “that man (Dr. Eric Lieberman) just saved his life.” I couldn’t have gotten any better treatment if I was President of the United States. They were unbelievable, caring and concerned with tremendous expertise.
There was a time when I was unconscious and Barbara and Dr. Lieberman had some lengthy discussions about my life. Barbara told Dr. Lieberman she believed I was still in there and Dr. Lieberman agreed. If it wasn’t for Dr. Lieberman, I wouldn’t be able to tell this story. I decided I wanted to stay alive. I believe state of mind is 90 percent of what happens. I wanted to live.
Since moving to Boynton Beach, from New York ten-years ago, I had aortic stenosis. I knew about this disease after Dr. Lieberman discovered and monitored it closely. He recommended that I have heart valve surgery which was highly successful. A few later, I had neck surgery and then we lost our house to a fire. A patient has to be his or her own advocate. I’m lucky enough to have a wife that advocates for me. She was there every minute. There was a time I was about to give up – I thought maybe this is it. I said to myself she is fighting so hard for you that you can’t give up. She said to me I have your back. We have been married over 53-years. We have a daughter and son both married and five grandchildren. My wife, she is the glue that holds our wonderful family together.
I used to play drums 60-years ago. You reach my stage of life and begin to think – what do I regret? I was an athlete and drummer and had no time for both, so I gave up the drum lessons. I’ve always regretted that… We go out to a concert and I’m always watching the drummer. Once I got better, my family, my son, daughter, five grandchildren and wife, the pride and joy of my life, bought me drumsticks, a drum pad and a certificate for drum lessons for Father’s Day. I’m a big fan of Gene Krupa and because of him I’ve always wanted to play the drums – today I’m playing the drums and go to lessons every Thursday. My wife says I’m whacking it out of the park. It’s an amazing thing!
For exercise, I’m walking six days a week in the pool. I’m the former president of my homeowner’s association and now host a current events club at the development where I live. I’m still in touch with my fraternity brothers from college – we talk every week during the Giants and Mets games. I have a tenacious attitude for life. I feel better today than I felt when I first got sick.