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Voice of the Patient: Brian Maier

“I wouldn’t be here right now,” answered Brian Maier, when asked what might have happened if Jackie Donovan, FNP, hadn’t wanted more answers after hearing his heart murmur and learning about some symptoms he had been experiencing. Brian has had a murmur for as long as he can remember, and it had never been a cause for concern. Not until that appointment with Jackie.  

A resident of the Newberry area for over 30 years, Maier previously taught special education with the Early Childhood Developmental Delay (ECDD) program for children three to six years of age at Newberry Elementary. He was forced into early retirement after an accident left him unable to meet the physical demands of the job. In 2010, Brian was out riding his bike, something he often did, when he was hit by a car. Being only a mile from home, he was able to pedal back but later felt very uneasy. A trip to the ER determined Maier had a collapsed lung and nine broken ribs. Then it was discovered he had fractured his back in two places. After several surgeries, he has lost count of the number of specialists he’s seen and tests he’s taken. “I can’t believe no one saw anything until that day with Jackie,” recalls Maier.

Maier had scheduled his yearly exam with Jackie Donovan, FNP, and was immediately impressed. “She was very thorough,” recalled Brian. So thorough she wanted to get another opinion on his heart murmur. Maier then had an echocardiogram and a stress test before being referred to a cardiologist in Marquette. There, a procedure called cardiac catheterization was done to help diagnose Brian’s condition. With this test, a catheter is inserted into a chamber or vessel of the heart, so the pressure and blood flow can be measured. 

After the test, Maier was diagnosed with a congenital defect in his heart, and ten-days later went into surgery to have an aortic valve replaced. The aortic valve controls the flow of blood out from the heart to the rest of the body. An aortic valve replacement involves removing a faulty or damaged valve and replacing it with a new valve made from synthetic materials or animal tissue.

Now a graduate from Helen Newberry Joy Hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Program, Maier has been impressed with another department of the hospital. As someone hesitant about going to cardiac rehab because he thought he could rehab himself, Brian admits, “It got me going. There was always someone there with a joke or friendly face.” It has increased his ability to go up stairs, improved his endurance, and taught him more about a healthy diet. He is even back to riding a bike and kayaking. 

Still a patient of Donovan’s, Maier schedules appointments with Jackie at the West Mackinac Health Clinic (WMHC) in Engadine. He likes the welcoming and personal atmosphere WMHC provides. The West Mackinac Health Clinic treats patients Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9am-4pm and Fridays from 9am-12pm. To make an appointment call, 906.477.6066.