He works full-time and is also the swim coach at Eagan High School. His wife, Amy, also works full-time and is the school’s diving coach—so their schedules between the two of us can be hectic to say the least!
After a last swim season ended in the spring, the team held an awards banquet for the kids and their parents. As soon as Chris was handed the microphone to talk about each swimmer and present the awards, he was hit with what he says “felt like a busload of tingles throughout my body and also experienced intense pain in my chest. While I felt terrible, I kept going for another three hours because I didn’t want to let down my team.”
When the banquet was over, Amy and Chris headed home. He let her drive, which is how she knew Chris was in a lot of pain. Thinking he might be having a heart attack, she drove him to the emergency room at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville. Coincidentally, one of the moms from the banquet was just starting her shift as a nurse and saw them come in.
The doctor put Chris through a series of tests and realized he was suffering from a rare aortic dissection—essentially, his aorta was ripping apart from his chest down to his leg (a full 28 inches). It goes without saying that most people don’t live very long when that happens.
Knowing that time was of the essence, the doctors had Chris flown by helicopter to University of Minnesota Medical Center, in Minneapolis. The transport only took eight minutes, and when he got there, he was rushed into life-saving emergency heart surgery.
“Thank goodness the doctors at both Fairview hospitals were educated about my condition and did what needed to be done,” Chris says. “I felt very well provided for—and that means a lot.”