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Robert Suter

Patient Robert Suter

At 72 years young, Robert Suter embarked on an overnight hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado. An avid hiker and outdoorsman, Robot had climbed elevation and countryside such as this many times before. However, on this day he was without the energy to keep up. A week later, after continuing to feel poorly at home in Bluffton, Robert went to the Emergency Room where it was determined he had a bacterial infection in his heart valve.

After hospitalization and treatments to kill the infection, Robert underwent an aortic heart value replacement completed by Dr. Gary Parenteau. He followed up with more IV antibiotics at Bluffton Hospital and continued to stay active – beating the infection that once plagued his ability see the world. “This came to pass but only through the intervention of an extraordinary team of emergency room personnel, cardiologists, infectious care specialist, surgical team, and cardiac care staff at Blanchard Valley Health System hospitals in Bluffton and Findlay, Ohio,” Robert said.

Robert worked to increase his endurance following his heart surgery. “I replaced my well-worn hiking boots with a new pair and started including the 65 steps up the Bluffton University football stadium in my routine. The 65 grew to a thousand several times a week and eventually I started carrying my backpack with one gallon of water, then gradually more water and gear until it was all worth about 25 pounds,” he said. Slow and steady was his mantra, with the goal of another hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Robert said, “There are a lot of measures of what ‘better’ might mean, but I thought the best would be an overnight hike in those same mountains. I am very happy to have been able to do just that – with encouragement from my great family and Dr. Gary Parenteau!”  

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