Patient shares her peripheral artery disease experience

Intense leg pain made it difficult to walk even to her mailbox

Jolette Munoz wants people to know something: “I am still here!”

This University of Michigan patient looks at life a little bit differently these days, knowing she has overcome some very difficult health challenges. Jolette credits the care and expertise of doctors at the University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center with helping her beat the odds.

Jolette’s health issues began with a massive heart attack in June of 2009. Then, in August of that year, she underwent triple bypass surgery, followed shortly after by a diagnosis of peripheral artery disease (PAD). In fact, the severe PAD-related pain she first experienced was during cardiac rehab after her bypass surgery. Jolette says the pain began in her calf, and extended up from there. “The pain was so intense that I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox,” she remembers.

A 90 percent blockage in an artery of her right leg led U-M doctors to perform an angioplasty and to implant a series of four stents, including a covered stent that “made a significant difference,” according to Jolette.

More than anything, she is thrilled that she was able to fulfill her lifelong dream of walking through the streets and countryside of Europe during a three-week vacation. “We walked everywhere — we walked miles,” she says. “That was my dream and the doctors helped me fulfill it. They made such a significant difference in the quality of my life — and they don’t even know it. They don’t live with me or walk down the street with me or work with me, but I can do all those things because they cared enough to do what they do.”

Jolette appreciates the quality of life she’s experiencing today. “We’re all on borrowed time,” she says, adding that she’s content with “feeling good while I feel good. It may not last forever but it’s here now, and that’s what matters.”

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.