Retired officer shares personal health journey to spread awareness


Lonnie Jones, a retired captain with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, hopes his recent health journey resonates with community members, especially those with a history of heart disease.

Last fall I began to experience an occasional flutter and mild chest discomfort. My nurse practioner did an EKG in her office and it showed atrial fibrillation. She wanted me to wear a 14-day holter monitor to investigate the issue further, but of course I resisted. About two weeks later I noticed that the Afib had gotten worse. I then agreed to wear the monitor and continued with my daily activities for the next 14 days. 

The results revealed several Afib “red flag events” including on more than one occasion a pulse rate of 196 for over 2.5 hours. It was described to me that I had a “widow-maker.” A cardiologisist appointment was scheduled, that I reluctantly agreed to go to.

The doctor ordered a stress test that should have taken about 15 minutes. I lasted a total of 3.5 minutes before the test had to be stopped. A few days later I went to a Lafayette hospital and took a $49 calcium heart scan. According to the technician the healthiest score should be a zero. Upon completion of the test I was instructed not to leave. I soon learned that my calcium score was over 641. 

My cardiologist believed that these issues could be treated with medication. During this time frame I was a sent to the Ascension Heart Center in Carmel for a Coronary CT Scan. Those results came back indicating a blockage in my Left Anterior Descending Artery. We were still hopeful that the medications would work.

During the holidays my symptoms and overall health started declining. My family kept insisting that I go back to the Heart Center for further testing and intervention. I refused to go because I had an upcoming cardiologist appointment scheduled after the first of the year. On Jan. 2, I started having sharp chest pain and shortness of breath. Of course I didn’t tell anyone, I just started taking my nitro tablets. They appeared to help for a few more hours. By late afternoon my symptoms had gotten worse. I then admitted to myself, my family and a local physician that is a family friend, what I was experiencing. We then proceeded to the Ascension Heart Center Emergency Room. Upon our arrival I was examined, treated and admitted. A heart cath procedure was scheduled sometime within the next few days. Now that we all know how stubborn I am, I’ll tell you how it almost cost me my life that night.

I  was in bed in my hospital room doing fairly well, visiting with my family and the nurses. Within the next one to two minutes I lost my vision and went completely unresponsive. The hospital staff called for the Emergency Rapid Response Crash Team. My family said that staff came running from every floor and direction. They brought the crash cart in and announced to prepare for code. My pulse was 31, my blood pressure was 50/30 and dropping. After several minutes and two injections of Atropine and other meds pushed into my IV, my blood pressure increased slightly. I started to slowly wake up, but crashed unresponsive for the second time. The team continued with their efforts and I began to regain consciousness. I recall that my vision was in black and white-negative. I could see double of everything in the room. It was not until I saw my wife and daughter’s faces that I could start to see color again. The cardiologist said they needed to wait to perform the cath procedure for an extra day until I was more stable.

On early Thursday morning I was prepped and taken to the Cath Lab. I had an excellent cardiologist team. They found three blockages in my LAD 95%, 75% and 40%. I now have two stents in place that are doing an excellent job. We pray that there are no more widow-makers in our future.

The Ascension medical team saved my life twice that week while I was their patient. They said that if I had stayed home and not come into the emergency room that I would not have survived the crash or the blockages.

My cardiologist’s strongly recommends all patients with this condition to complete a cardio rehab course. Once my son learned of this information, he contacted IU Health in Lafayette and enrolled me into their program and told me when I was to report.

The support that I have received from friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances have been unbelievable. To all of you that have reached out with prayers, calls, cards, visits and meals thank you from a stubborn ‘ole cop, that learned his lesson the hard way!