Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight is home in Covington and hopes to be back at work Monday as she continues her recovery from a heart attack that left her hospitalized while on vacation in Florida.
Knight, who spent several days in a Florida hospital, said the experience has been difficult, but she’s feeling a lot better and is thankful she only suffered a mild heart attack instead of a potentially-debilitating stroke, which doctors told her was the more likely outcome for a person with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) – Knight’s preliminary diagnosis. She will have to take blood thinners for the rest of her life.
APS causes a person’s blood to over-coagulate, which led to the dangerous blood clots Knight experienced. Husband Scott Knight said there are several different types of APS, and further blood study will determine Leigh Anne’s specific type. The condition is not curable but is treatable.
"Now it’ll be properly treated, and the heart doctor says this medicine is something lots of people are on. It’s a very manageable medicine," Leigh Anne said. "I have to learn to live with it and I can do that."
Leigh Anne, 45, suffered the heart attack July 1 while on vacation in Panama City, Fla., and was treated there before friend and pilot Len Strozier flew down Monday to pick up the Knight family and transport them quickly back to Covington. The flight was part of the nonprofit program Angel Flight, which matches pilots with people needing expeditious medical transport.
Strozier was accompanied by pilot Scott Pedoa, who didn’t know the family but still lent a helping hand.
"I don’t know if I can put it into words; I guess it’s almost like an incredible journey," Leigh Anne said. "You feel like you’re fairly healthy – nobody is a perfect eater. You feel like you take pretty good care of yourself … and it’s shocking to realize that it really doesn’t matter (what you do) if there is something there genetically. There’s nothing you can do that can prepare you for it, except for now, knowing it’s there and knowing it’s genetic, preparing future generations for that."
Leigh Anne said she hoped other people would be able to learn from her disease, and both she and Scott said they were thankful the condition was found now before a more serious incident occurred.
"You don’t ever want to be thankful for things that damage your body, but at the same time, looking back and doing the reading about this particular blood disorder, most people have strokes, and we all know most of the time strokes are debilitating in some form or fashion. This was a wakeup call for me in the form of a heart attack," she said.
While the heart attack led to health issues, Leigh Anne said her heart is almost back to functioning at 100 percent of its capacity and will reach that level with additional medication.
"I have to say I am thankful, because now I know I have the problem, and because, hopefully with the medication, it’s very manageable from here on out. It’s the strangest thing to hear somebody say they’re thankful for that, but God has a way of putting you in a position where he teaches you and reveals something to you," she said. "The thing He revealed may not be what you think is good, but in this instance it was very good and ended up being the best for everybody."
Scott said Leigh Anne has a few more doctors’ appointments this week and will then visit the doctor weekly until everything is back to normal. The couple thanked everyone for their prayers and support.
"I’m just thankful for everybody, mostly for their prayers and their concern showed to us and for us," Leigh Anne said. "It’s just been an outpouring; I’m so blessed to have that kind of concern for me."
Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon is serving as Covington’s head city administrative official in Knight’s absence.