How a $50 Test Saved a Southern Door Farmer’s Life

Mary Vogel became a firm believer in a routine procedure called a calcium screening test when it saved the life of her husband Bob.

“A calcium screening test is just $50. Granted, it’s out of pocket, but it’s the best $50 you will ever spend,” she said.

Bob and Mary have a farm on Cloverleaf Road in Gardner. Bob works the farm while Mary works for Kwik Trip in Green Bay.

In 2015, Bob was noticing pains and tiredness.

“He would complain that he was tired. We basically thought it was from being out of shape,” Mary said. “When he would get the pains, he thought it was pulling himself up on the tractor and pulling stones. He would just come in the house and lay down and then go again.”

Mary said Bob, 55, always had aches and pains from farming, but this time they were not going away, so the Vogels decided Bob should visit their family doctor. He recommended that Bob undergo a calcium screening, which is a CT scan that examines the coronary arteries for calcium blockage.

“We said, let’s do the calcium screening test to see if it’s your heart or you’re just getting old,” Mary said. “He did the calcium screening test. They always say it’s between 0 and 500. You want to be at zero. His came back at a little over 400. That means, uh-oh.”

The test was on Dec. 21, 2015. A stress test was scheduled for the first week of the new year with Dr. Ciprian Nedelcu of Aurora BayCare Cardiology.

“He flunked the stress test,” Mary said. “The next up was to go in for stents. They tried, but they couldn’t get them in. They said, ‘Now we’re going to have to have heart surgery, triple bypass.’ That was scary. That was hard for me to hear.”

Dr. Alexander Roitstein

Dr. Alexander Roitstein

Dr. Alexander Roitstein of BayCare Clinic Cardiothoracic Surgery performed the triple bypass on Jan. 21, 2016, and determined that the pains and tiredness Bob had been feeling were probably from four heart attacks he had unknowingly suffered.

“I never, ever thought it was a heart attack because he doesn’t have heart disease on his side of the family. My side has it, so I was thinking I would be the one,” Mary said. “This didn’t just happen. It was coming. They did say that if he wouldn’t have had the calcium screening and found this out, he wouldn’t have lived six months.”

Bob even advised Mary to get a calcium screening.

“His words were that I want you to get it because I want to know that you’re OK, because, basically who would take care of him?” she said.

She happily scored a zero in the test, and she advises everyone to get one.

“See your doctor. Listen to what they say,” she said. “Listen to your own body and your aches and pains. Men especially think, ‘I’m supposed to be this rock.’ They say it’s harder to admit you’re not the one in charge or you’re not strong enough. So it was a little bit harder for him to cope with that. We went through semi-depression.”

But today she said Bob feels much better, although what took place is a blur to him.

“He does have energy now if he wants to use it. He feels 100 percent better,” she said.