Patient stories: A silent threat

The artery leading from Victor Fessler’s heart carried a deadly secret. It might have stayed hidden if it weren’t for his gut feeling …
and a simple test.

It's June 2 and 81-year-old retiree Victor Fessler is fishing for crappie in an Eastern Oregon lake. He fished the day before and he plans to fish tomorrow. He and his wife, Teresa, are on a four-month road trip across Oregon in a 30-foot RV. They're seeing the sights and linking up with friends, but mostly they're stopping to fish for crappie.

"They're way better eating than trout," Fessler says. "People that don't like fish like 'em."

If there's one thing Fessler is thankful for, it's days like these. Seven months earlier, his future was less certain. He didn't know it at the time, but his body held a hidden threat. One outcome might have led to a sudden death; the other, to the banks of this lake, his fishing pole in hand and his wife of 61 years preparing cabbage slaw in the kitchen.

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