A U.S. Marines and Army veteran, Keith Krueger is used to being on the move, making his current plight all the more difficult.
The Luling man has worked as a truck driver since 1992 after returning home from active duty in the Army, where he served from 1988 after an active tenure with the Marines from 1979 to 1982. But now he’s home recovering after suffering heart failure in early August, with complications following the surgery making his attempts to bounce back all the more difficult.
Krueger had a pacemaker successfully installed, but safety rules dictate he would have to miss at least weeks of work following the procedure – a difficult prospect, as his wife Heather serves as an in-home caretaker for a close friend and disabled New Orleans police officer, free of charge. Thus, the household currently has no source of income.
“It’s zero income. For insurance, we have a $10,000 deductible, and a lot of out of pocket expenses (toward recovery). On top of that, we still have the usual bills we always have,” said Heather. “We know how lucky we are that it wasn’t worse than it was. The doctor said he should be fine with the pacemaker now. But it’s still a month off of work, and it’s really hard.”
Making the recovery more of a burden for Keith has been a reaction following surgery that saw his legs covered in large blisters and swelling in his stomach and neck.
“His legs were white as Kleenex,” Heather said. “This was the Friday after is surgery. He asked if we should call the doctor on Monday, and I looked at him and told him, ‘I’m calling 911 right now.’”
After several trips to different medical facilities over the ensuing days, there seemed to be no quick fix for the problem. He was told the problem would subside, and was prescribed some medication to help accelerate that process, but Heather said it was still extremely painful for her husband.
For his part, Keith wants to get back to work, but he still has a bit of time left before that can happen.
“It’s frustrating, but I get it,” he said. “As a truck driver, this isn’t what I’m used to. I’ve got to get through this time and get cleared.”
Keith spends most of his time on the road as a driver; Heather said her husband was at home for just the third time since Christmas last month when he began suffering severe shortness of breath two days following his return. He had a temporary pacemaker put in at first, then two days later had the permanent one inserted.
“We know he’s lucky to be able to still have his job,” Heather said. “It’s just a difficult thing … with everything going on with lockdowns and shutdowns, and I have my own medical bills as well. There’s no good timing, and we’re so thankful he’s OK, but this happened at the worst possible time.”
A GoFundMe fundraiser (titled Keith’s heart surgery expenses) to help the couple get through the ordeal has raised more than $1,100.
“We’re so thankful for it,” Heather said. “Everything is a blessing, no matter how much … someone even donated $150 and it’s just so unexpected. Half of the people who donated were drivers, the other half were friends, and it means a lot.”