Councilman Feeling Lucky To Be Alive

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Recovering in Phoenix this week from five-way bypass surgery, Payson Councilmember Ray Schum said he counts himself lucky to be alive.


He said it was just plain luck that doctors discovered his arteries were clogged -- one almost completely -- and that he needed immediate surgery.


Now he's resting comfortably at the Arizona Heart Institute, looking toward the future and questioning whether to continue his campaign for mayor.


"They told me I was a heart attack waiting to happen," he said.


In preparing for his mayoral campaign, Schum said he decided to undergo a complete physical.


"Because I was 78, and because I wanted to tell the people I was in good shape, I volunteered to take that stress mill test," Schum said. "I had absolutely no symptoms, nothing at all."


What he did have, doctors told him Monday, was a plugged pumper.


"I thought he was going to have a heart attack when they told him," Schum's wife Lee said. "We were just going down for examinations. He's never had any shortness of breath. He walks about two miles every day. He never had any problems, which is why it was such a shock."


Schum spent Tuesday morning in a surgical suite at the Phoenix hospital, where Dr. Rajeev Kathuria performed bypass surgery.


"I had a whole bunch of bypasses," he said. "Everything was clogging up. They said I was lucky I got in here when I did."


As for the campaign, the councilmember said, "I don't know yet what I'm going to do. I have to weigh that, and see how much recovery I have to do," he said.


"They tell me at least one-third of heart attacks are fatal, and I could have had a fatal one. I'm kind of lucky."


Schum is hoping to be released Saturday.


"Everything is going fine though," he said. "It really is kind of stressful at first. It's very painful. It gets easier every day. Now, I can get up and walk around the ward here several times a day with no problem. I've got all sorts of flowers from the chamber, the town, private citizens ... I'm overwhelmed."


The doctors told Schum they've given him 10 more years of life," Lee said. "And, we're looking forward to living every one of them."

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