Ben McKenzie had a lot on his plate Thursday, when he and doctors suspected he might have had a heart attack.
But it was the things he loves that were on his mind – his wife of two weeks, Katie, and his favorite NHL team, the Carolina Hurricanes.
From his hospital bed, the 30-year-old posted a photo on the Canes subreddit to show fellow fans that the couple donned Hurricanes jerseys for their wedding ceremony in Hot Springs on May 12.
“I had a lot of time to kill just sitting here,” Ben said Friday, still at the hospital in Lexington, S.C. “I had a lot of wedding pictures.”
Ben had joked that the only way he would go through with the wedding was if he got to wear the gear, but Katie shot him down. Then, she surprised him with two new jerseys for them to wear on their big day.
“I just caved,” she said.
Ben started following the team seriously in 2000. His mom would take him from Wadesboro to Raleigh to catch games during his elementary and middle school years.
“Katie isn’t really that much of a fan, but she goes along with it because I like it, and I think she’s in love with Sebastian Aho,” he said.
Aho was actually one of six Canes players Ben tried to sneak onto the couple’s online wedding guest list, along with Scott Darling, Jaccob Slavin, Noah Hanifin, Phil Di Giuseppe and Justin Faulk.
But Ben found he had underestimated Katie's vigilance. She caught the additions within a day, recognizing the names Slavin and Darling and the conspicuous entry, “Carolina Hurricanes.”
“I opened the guest list online a couple months before the wedding, and there were just some names on here,” Katie said. “I’m like, ‘I feel like I know this name.’”
The couple got hitched before a crowd of about 65. Alas, no Canes players attended. Ben joked that he was “super mad,” but he wasn’t really expecting any to turn up.
Just days after returning from a honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tenn., to their home in Sumter, S.C., Ben went to an urgent care with chest pains. He said it felt like a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung, which he had experienced before, in 2013.
A cardiologist on Saturday morning deemed that Ben had not had a heart attack, despite finding elevated troponin levels and enlarged coronary arteries. Doctors decided to keep Ben another day, awaiting more test results.
The couple is taking the experience in stride.
“Everyone in my family made the joke, ‘Oh my God, Katie, you almost took him out after two weeks,’” Katie said. “This was very surprising to happen all of a sudden, but I’m glad it’s happening in the time it did before it got worse.”