Talk to Bennie Ellison for any length of time and it's easy to see why his friends call him Gentle Ben. Bennie is a gentle soul. He loves work, his dogs and life. But on March 1, 2012, he came dangerously close to losing it all. Bennie called 9-1-1.
"I called the lady on the phone and said 'Maam I don't know what's the matter with me - but you need to send somebody here quick,'" Bennie says. "I thought I was dying."
Bennie's trouble started earlier in the week. He had been battling what he thought was a chest cold. He couldn't catch his breath.
Bennie says "I felt like I was drowning, but there was no water."
Turns out Bennie was battling a life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism or a blood clot in his lungs. This one was massive.
Bennie was given a drug to break up the clot. A series of tests, quick thinking and experience led Dr. Bruce Holcomb and his team to the diagnosis.
"This blood clot does not break off and cause a stroke," Dr. Holcomb says. "It stays in the lung and basically just shuts your lungs down so you can't breathe."
Bennie, who has a genuine fear of hospitals, isn't afraid anymore.
"I don't like staying in hospitals but I didn't mind being there, I felt real good – they're real nice people."
Bennie spent a couple of days at Immanuel Medical Center then it was right back to work. He routinely sees his primary care physician now. Alegent Health Clinic's Dr. Arman Pajnigar helps him monitor the clot busting medicine he's taking and keep his health in check.
Gentle Ben is grateful to be alive and back home with his four legged family.
He did the right thing by calling 9-1-1. Fortunately for him, he lives just minutes from one of Alegent's many hospitals. All metro area Alegent Health hospitals are Certified Chest Pain Centers and staffed by experts who specialize in emergency care.