Fortunately, Billy Allgood’s instructions were ignored.
It’s hard to imagine that being a good thing.
Allgood spent almost 40 years coaching basketball and baseball at Louisiana College, along with serving as athletic director.
His achievements as a coach earned him the respect of his coaching peers throughout the South and Louisiana, many of whom are members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, which inducted Allgood in 1999.
It was November 2009 and Allgood, who retired from LC 11 years earlier, was teaching and coaching at the Avoyelles Public Charter School in Mansura.
“I was on the softball field doing some work with a shovel,” said Allgood, 81. “I got down and couldn’t breathe very well. I went to the gym to lie down and told the young guy who was with me not to tell anyone.”
Well, the young guy did tell.
Soon, Julie Roy, the school’s executive director, Lori Thames, dean of students, and APCS board member Liz Reed were checking on Allgood. Adding to Allgood’s luck was the fact Reed is a registered nurse.
“Liz Reed checked me out and told me to see a doctor,” he said. “As hard headed as I am, I listened.”
“He had not been feeling well,” recalled his wife, Irene. “He had been having trouble recovering from working out.”
Not only was Allgood a Hall-of-Fame caliber coach, he was a Hall-of-Fame caliber basketball player at the school that is now known as Southern Mississippi. Once he “retired” from LC, Allgood became in demand as a basketball player for teams competing in the Senior Olympics around the nation. As he had done in college, Allgood did the grunt work, setting picks, passing and rebounding.
But he found himself not having the stamina he once enjoyed.
“He still played senior basketball, but would have to ask to come out,” said Irene Allgood. “It wasn’t until the day they found him in the training room” that Billy Allgood finally went to a doctor.
Jonathan Hunter, M.D., recommended an echocardiogram. That was followed by a visit to cardiologist Craig Pearce, M.D.
After a nuclear stress test, cardiovascular surgeon T. Mack Granger, M.D., scheduled Allgood for a triple bypass.
“I was greatly surprised,” said Billy Allgood.
Allgood’s good fortune didn’t end with the bypass.
After the bypass surgery was under way, Dr. Granger discovered an aortic aneurysm that was already showing signs of leaking.
“The aorta in another day would’ve ruptured,” said Irene Allgood. “He would’ve had what they call the widow maker.”
Following seven hours of surgery, Allgood spent three nights in ICU before being moved to a private room. Soon, he was back coaching baseball and teaching at Avoyelles Public Charter School.
“I was lucky and extremely stupid,” said Allgood. “My mother always told me the Lord takes care of fools and idiots, and I think I qualify as both.”
Irene Allgood, who serves as a volunteer at Rapides Regional Medical Center, said there was no consideration of having the surgery performed at another facility. “Someone asked if we wanted to go to Houston, but we said no,” she said. “We didn’t even consider going anywhere else.”
“I felt extremely comfortable there (at Rapides Regional),” said Billy Allgood. “I was comfortable with Dr. Pearce, who was a Louisiana College graduate, and from what I had heard about Dr. Granger. Going somewhere else never entered our minds.”
Irene Allgood points out there was another advantage to having the surgery performed at Rapides Regional.
“There were 19 people in that waiting room praying for him during the surgery,” she said. “That would not have happened somewhere else.”
Some of those praying for Allgood were his former players at LC. A few joked that his surgery dispelled one myth about Allgood: He did have a heart.
“I’ve been given another shot,” said Allgood. “I’d like to stay here forever and work.”