St. Louis video photographer Mike Flanary has said the only reason he still is alive is because of the help of bystanders, led by Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold, and medical personnel after he collapsed while suffering a heart ailment in September at Busch Stadium.
So the holiday this week has had a lot of extra meaning for him.
“It’s Thanksgiving and it’s like, ‘Wow, I have a lot to be thankful for,’” he said this week. “I’ve got my future. Derrick and all those people saved me. Now my surgeon has given me my future.”
Flanary, who since has turned 65, is a free-lance camera operator who has a wide variety of assignments, including sporting events, commercials and corporate video. He was at Busch Stadium on Sept. 29, the final day of the baseball regular season, preparing to help provide video to Chicago television of the announcement that Cubs manager Joe Maddon and the team had decided to part ways. While in the dugout, he collapsed because of an arterial blockage that he says is “commonly called ‘widow maker’ — victims die in less than 60 seconds normally.”
But fellow cameraman Dave Rutherford was able to get hold of Flanary to keep him from taking a hard fall, others pitched in, then Goold performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation before professional medical personnel arrived to take over and he was quickly taken to a hospital.
It was determined that it wouldn’t be advisable for him to have a stent inserted, so he was stabilized and scheduled for bypass surgery several weeks later. He had that on Nov. 11 and said it “went spectacularly.”
“My recovery, I’m at the top of my class,” he added. “One nurse’s aide even told my family the entire time she’s been there she’s never seen anybody like me” do so well so fast. “It’s all going really well.”
Flanary is convinced that he would have died had it not been for the Maddon-Cubs divorce, because he had planned to be camping that day at Carlyle Lake — where the likelihood of him gaining the type of quick medical attention he received at Busch Stadium was remote.
He said he expects to be cleared to drive in a couple weeks, and then he’s on track to begin cardiac rehabilitation two weeks after that.
“If I had a desk job, I could go back then,” he said. “But I have a physical job, so it’s going to take awhile for my atrophied muscles to come back to work level. That adds a little time for getting back to work, but everything’s going really good. I recover pretty quickly, so sometime during January I should be beginning to go back to work.”
The original story on the teamwork to save Flanary:
— Dan Caesar