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Remaining Positive Was My Best Medicine

Virginia “Ginny” Quaal


 Virginia “Ginny” QuallIt had been 30 years since Virginia “Ginny” Quaal had been treated for Hodgkin's disease and she planned to celebrate in 2011.

Instead she faced—and overcame--new health challenges with the help of Scottsdale Healthcare.

Always a health conscious and active individual, Ginny was surprised to find herself at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center’s emergency department in January with a fast heart rate and shortness of breath. Tests thankfully revealed no new cancer markers and she received medicine to control her abnormal heart beat.

Over the next few months, however, Ginny continued to weaken with fluid building up in her body. Her family physician recommended consulting with Scottsdale Healthcare experts Nassim Haddad, MD and Walid Alami, MD, who were able to determine that she suffered a stiffening of the protective pericardium around the heart caused by her lengthy radiation treatments 30 years earlier.

Robert Riley, MDDrs. Alami and Haddad explained that Ginny needed surgery to remove the pericardium so her heart had space to beat correctly again, which would also help remove the fluid. They recommended Scottsdale Healthcare heart surgeon Robert Riley, MD.

“His amazing bedside manner during of our first meeting convinced me that he was the cardiac surgeon I wanted to do this procedure,” Ginny recalls. “He explained that I would be in the hospital for about two months and for me to be prepared for a long recovery.”

The operation in May went well, but Ginny was not yet out of danger. “I had severe setbacks in my breathing and eating and was bed bound in the ICU for three and a half weeks,” she explains. “With the outstanding nursing staff, and as my body slowly began functioning properly, I was moved to telemetry for 10 days of therapy to build muscle and learn to walk again before being sent home.”

Remaining positive and smiling during her struggles, Ginny constantly reflected on the important people in her life. “First of all, my loving and attentive husband, devoted daughter, family and friends were my backbone,” she says. “Then all of the excellent doctors, caring nurses, determined physical and occupational therapists, including the kindness of housekeeping (one who even made me a birthday card) were all among the many positive acquaintances who aided in my getting well again.”

Ginny now feels great satisfaction in walking the grounds outside Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. “I climb steps and hills representative of the mountain I had to climb to be where I am today. As I look up at Scottsdale Healthcare, I smile and say a collective ‘thank you’ and give hugs for a job well done,” she says. “I am forever grateful.”

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