RED SPRINGS — Red Springs’ town manager didn’t think it was a big deal when he had shortness of breath two months ago because he’s almost never sick.
But when David Ashburn kept having problems, he decided to seek help.
“The last day in April I was unloading my car, and had shortness of breath,” he said. “I got up about midnight for a phone call about a shooting and really had to work to breathe. I woke up my wife and told her that I thought we should go get it checked. I went at 6 a.m. Sunday to First Med in Raeford.”
The doctors checked his scans and blood work and transferred him to First Health Hospital in Pinehurst. The cardiologist at the hospital reviewed his cardio-pulmonary scans and sent for the cardiac surgeon.
“At 6 a.m. Monday I had open-heart surgery,” he said. “I had 95 to 98 percent blockage in some of my main ventricle arteries. One of them is nicknamed the widowmaker because you usually don’t recover from that one.
“I was real lucky. The good Lord was looking after me.”
The surgeons replaced the arteries with veins from Ashburn’s legs.
The experience was a real surprise for Ashburn “because I’ve only taken two sick days in my career.”
Ashburn is easing back into the job he was hired for on Feb. 1. The town manager has been working four or five hours each day for the past two weeks.
“I was in the hospital for a week, and at home for a week,” he said. “They want you to be out six to eight weeks. I started working by phone from home before coming back. I’ll be meeting with the doctors on the fourth (of June) to see about what is next.”
“David is a strong individual,” said Mayor Ed Henderson. “We think he’ll be just fine.”
Town operations didn’t suffer while Ashburn was out, the mayor said.
“Ashburn, fortunately, left it in good condition,” Henderson said. “I sat down with the employees, but I just reminded them that they know how to do their jobs, and what was expected in his absence.”
Ashburn gave credit to the town’s employees
“When you have good people working for you, things will come close to running by themselves,” he said.
The medical episode left Ashburn with advice for others.
“People should take problems seriously,” Ashburn said. “Get yourself checked out. This caught me off guard. I never had pain, but I’d had a heart attack.”
Ashburn, a Tennessee native, was hired from a field in which seven people were interviewed. He served as county coordinator for Walker County in Georgia for 25 years. For the past 12 years of that time, he simultaneously served as director of county Emergency Services.