Randy Bigelow served his country as a member of the U.S. Navy for 24 years, zigzagging across the U.S. and Japan before returning to his roots, right here in Middlebury. Born at Porter Hospital, raised in Middlebury and a graduate of Middlebury Union High School, Bigelow was happy to be home, but he didn’t feel quite like himself.
Soon after returning home, Bigelow felt ill and began gaining weight. He assumed he was experiencing a recurrence of cellulitis or he felt ill because of his cigarette-smoking habit. That was all the reason he needed to quit smoking. In 2015, he enrolled in the Porter Hospital Smoking Cessation program and successfully kicked his habit.
“I was so grateful and pleased to have quit smoking, but I was surprised that I did not feel that much better and actually felt that my health was continuing to decline. I felt worse and worse,” he says.
Bigelow’s condition declined and he needed urgent care at Porter’s new urgent care center, Porter ExpressCare. “It was very late in the day when I arrived, and they determined that I needed an ultrasound, so I was transported down to the Emergency Department area to await this test,” says Bigelow. Within five minutes, Bigelow was surrounded by physicians and nurses who recognized he was experiencing a cardiac event, later identified as atrial fibrillation. Stabilized in the ED, he was then transferred to the UVM Medical Center for a cardiac catheterization procedure. “I remember being awake during the entire procedure and able to watch on a monitor … it was truly remarkable,” he says.
The very next day, Bigelow was walking across the Champlain Bridge and starting his new exercise routine thanks to the care teams at Porter ExpressCare, the emergency department and the UVM Medical Center. “It was like magic,” Bigelow says. “The right people made the right diagnosis and took great care of me. I have so much energy now and can run for the first time in years.”