Lying on an operating table not sure what to expect, Cole Lindley grabbed his iPod and started it up, hoping to find some distraction.
The Deer Creek baseball standout had just graduated the day before, shortly after completing a stellar senior season with the Antlers.
But as he looked down and turned on Mumford and Sons' “The Cave,” Cole found a bit of calm in the music as doctors started the surgery he'd both waited for and feared for the last seven months.
As the music continued — he had the first song planned out but just let his iPod go after Cole felt each of about 10 shots on each side of his leg where local anesthetics were injected. He felt the heart catheter start its way up the femoral artery in his leg up to his heart. He felt the catheter, once it arrived, “tickle” his heart.
“It was a strange feeling and very uncomfortable,” Cole said.
For five hours, Cole stayed on the table, listening to music and hoping and praying that it would end quickly and that the surgery would work.
As unpleasant as the surgery was, it worked.
And Monday, Cole will check in for the All-State Games in Tulsa. Tuesday, he'll suit up for the Large West in his last competitive baseball game.
“It's been awesome,” Cole said. “I don't have to take medicine every day. It's back to normal life. I'm thanking God every day that I'm back.”
Cole's problems began more than a year earlier.
During the spring of 2012, he began feeling his heart start to race during class.
A check of his pulse put him at more than 130 beats per minute, nearly twice the normal resting heart rate of someone his age.
“Everything would just exhaust me,” Cole said. “Getting out of bed and taking a shower would feel like I'd just run a mile. I couldn't figure out why I was getting so tired just running from first to second.”
His pediatrician referred him to a cardiologist, who ordered an EKG that didn't show much.
The next step was fitting Cole with a heart monitor so they could track when an arrhythmia started.
The monitor was supposed to stay on for 30 days but 48 hours later, the doctor called Cole back to his office.
But doctors still couldn't find the problem until August, when they pinpointed a ventricular tachycardia — a fast heartbeat originating in one of the heart's lower chambers — during a heart catheter.
Lindley's heart had created an extra electrical pathway, likely caused by a virus in the months before the issue began.
His heart function was less than half of what it should've been.
“It puts you on edge,” Cole's father, Larry Lindley, said. “Just like any parent would be. You just go in there and pray.”
A month later, he underwent the first surgery. Unfortunately, though, the general anesthetic of the surgery kept the arrhythmia away.
Without being able to pinpoint it, doctors couldn't fix it.
So doctors gave them options — Cole could have the surgery again, this time without anesthesia, or he could start taking a medicine, which might or might not work.
He opted for the medicine to start. Taking one pill a day didn't have an effect but when the dosage was bumped up to two, he finally found relief. The abnormal beat remained but it wasn't as intense.
A stress test in January showed that exercise actually put his heart back into a normal rhythm. Two weeks of wearing a monitor while he began workouts again led to him being fully cleared to resume workouts.
Cole hit .458 with 33 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in helping the Antlers to the Class 5A state tournament. He hit nearly 200 points better with runners in scoring position.
“That's what the ultimate goal was, to get back before the season,” Cole said. “You realize everything's not given to you. I tried to make the most of every game. I really think that's what helped me have the kind of season I did.”
After the season ended, though, the family decided going through with the surgery would be the best option for Cole's future.
For five hours, he was awake as doctors poked and prodded and finally fixed the problem. They found another minor arrhythmia, though they were able to finally put Cole under general anesthesia for that procedure.
“I'm just like, ‘Put me to sleep, take all this stuff out of me while I'm asleep. I don't want to be awake when you pull this out,'” Cole said. “I stayed the night in the hospital and I've been pretty much back to normal. I have my daily life back.
“It was a lot of pain and hassle and about a year of uncertainty. I'm glad it's over.”
Tuesday's game will be Cole's last.
Instead of playing baseball in college, Cole decided to accept a nearly full academic scholarship to Oklahoma, where he plans to study petroleum engineering.
“I'm going out on a good note,” Cole said. “I've got one more in me.”