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RYANDEJONGHE's Recent Blog Entries

Thoughts About Life, After Dying Twice

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some of you may tire of me talking about it, but this is something that I live with everyday. My thought pattern has changed, whether I like it or not. Many wonder, "why am I here?" or "what is my destiny?" I can say that these questions haunt me more than ever now. After some reflection, I have come up with some interesting thoughts:

Live like you were living. Some say that you should live like you are dying. To some extent I would agree with this. We shouldn't take loved ones for granted and we should make every opportunity count. Here we have this two-sided coin. On one hand we should sieze the day. On the other hand, we should take action to not be careless. When I hear "live like you are dying" the first thoughts are to throw caution to the wind. Go sky-diving. Eat cake. Whatever. There is a place for all of that, but I also think we should plan our future, build our networks, and take care of ourselves.

Serve one another. The whole "what am I here for" question has bounced around in my head more often than anyone can imagine. And to the best of my ability, I believe we are all here to serve one another. That is what makes social networking sites and sites like SparkPeople so powerful, they build connections and give us hope that we are serving one another. Whether it is a blog, a status update, whatever it is...we are benefiting one another.

Know what you believe. At some point in your life, your foundation will be rocked. When life is going well, it is easy to discount this. It is during this time that you need to explore where, what, or who your safety net is. When, not if, the tide turns there needs to be something that will catch your thoughts. I can't tell you how many times I have awaken at night, thinking this was my final moment on earth. Thanks to a strong belief system and having confidence in my network, I am able to remain stable.

There is nothing here that is negative. This is all positive stuff. Work towards building your network up, serve one another, and know who, what, and where to fall back onto. This may not solve all of life's questions, but it will help in getting there.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANGEL636 8/16/2011 10:03AM

    OMG you are truly blessed. I lost my dad aged 48 & my brother aged 34 both from cardiac arrest. I am an intensive care nurse so give of myself selflessly every day. I also teach my daughters to practice random acts of kindness.
Keep up the great work & make it count!

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LAURIEMN 7/29/2011 11:52AM

    Good to read that you are hanging in there, Ryan. I recently (July 19) blogged about my experience in having a heart attack at age 35. That was 17 years ago for me. Like you, my heart was good, pipes were all clear, low cholesterol, low blood pressure. I simply had a heart attack. In my experience, the emotional side of having a brush with death is more difficult than the physical side. My two children were ages 7 and 11; and they needed their Mom, just as your two kiddos need their Dad. Now that I am farther down the journey, I know that it will get less scary, yet you will continue to appreciate each and every day. God Bless and keep you and your family as you continue down the path of recovery.

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SKYRUNHER 7/29/2011 9:58AM

    those are words to take to heart Ryan.. I'm glad you are still here to give them to us.

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LUIGIE 7/29/2011 6:49AM

  I agree totally. We are supposed to love others as ourselves, and serving brings happiness to both giver and receiver.

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MOUSTER 7/26/2011 5:15PM

    that is a wonderful blog!! And i can relate to a lot of what you wrote. so glad you are still here with us.. How have you been doing???

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ABRANNEWME2014 7/24/2011 10:23PM

    What a wonderful blog...I'm always hoping that I'm serving someone other then myself...It's a wonderful thing to do so..


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A Champion Returns

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Last year I felt I was reaching my stride. With the help of SparkPeople.com, I was able to lose 40 pounds, exercise without tiring, and even ran my first 5k in nearly 20 years. On February 19, 2011, I was to start a new trend. Since then I have set a few new records, but not necessarily ones that I wanted to set. In the last four months I have; died twice, been admitted to the hospital three times, road in the ambulance five times, and have had two shirts cut off me.

Here is the nice thing though, thanks again to SparkPeople, I am pretty healthy. Now you wouldn't think I am healthy by the previous paragraph, but I am by all medical measurement standards. My blood pressure is normal, I have no irregular heartbeats, there are no blockages in my heart, and just about any blood test you can think of has a positive number.

I am blessed, fortunate, and all around lucky. However, I am not what I was at the end of last year. I have gained all of my weight back and am not allowed to exercise until the doctors can pinpoint or prevent what is causing me to go into cardiac arrest. For the most part, I feel fine. Just a few weeks ago, I felt fine, then a little dizzy, and then I was waking up from the ground. Does this scare me? Yes, very much so. I do have an ICD in me now that will shock me back to life, but I would much rather not have to deal with it at all.

Now, for the returning champion part. This morning, after stepping on the scale and seeing the dreadful return of where I was, I am now more determined than other. Now, I can be like Rocky V, Rambo 6, or the most recent Indiana Jones. In other words, I can make a comeback even though I have this working against me. I can make up a bunch of excuses, but when I look around me, I find lots of people fighting past those excuses.

I don't know if I will ever be allowed to run again, but that doesn't mean I can't come up with some other good goals. I'm looking forward to working towards these goals along with all the rest of the good people here on SparkPeople. And I am convinced, more than ever, that we CAN do it!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKYRUNHER 6/28/2011 7:21PM

    Yay!!! I've really missed reading your blogs Ryan! You inspire so many people.. do you even know how many people care about you? I do hope the doctors find out what's wrong with you because we want you around for a long time!!

You're not only a champion, you're also a rock star!! I like your no quit attitude and you are a true inspiration.. on the days that I feel like quitting.. I will think of you and push through it!

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100MILLBUTRFLYS 6/27/2011 3:52PM

    You've got such a great positive attitude! It will keep you going so much better than one that isn't. You can do this! there are so many of us rooting for you! One day at a time.
*hugs* you'll get passed this!

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ABRANNEWME2014 6/26/2011 7:51PM

    Also saying lots of prayers for you and the family


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ABRANNEWME2014 6/26/2011 7:49PM

    I agree you are a Champion in my book....I also wish you all the best and hope that the doctors can very soon figure it out God bless you Ryan....


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MEANCARLEEN 6/26/2011 6:56PM

    VERY inspiring and VERY true. You have the mentality of a champion because you are a champion. emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/26/2011 6:57:12 PM

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MOUSTER 6/26/2011 5:11PM

    Ryan sending you lots of prayers and prayers that doctors figure out why your heart is doing that.. You are an inspiration!!!

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MRSMIKEJG 6/26/2011 5:06PM

    One of the best blogs I've read Ryan. You can do it!

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Last Week - Meeting the Heroes

Friday, April 22, 2011

Last week was pretty amazing. The American Heart Association set up a ceremony to honor the heroes that saved my life. My parents drove back in from Ohio to be there and meet them as well. They were there when I died, so it was a nice closure for them. A lot of people came, including the TV news and newpaper. I was on the front page of the New Haven Register the following day! Crazy.

Here is video that was on the news:

Here is the news paper article, which also includes some video: www.nhregister.com/articles/2011/04/

As for the rest of life, I'm getting back to normal. As the newspaper article says, I feel so good I feel like doing jumping jacks. I'm picking up my exercise routine and getting back into the swing of things. I've picked up some weight during my down time, but am making positive progress now.

Thanks to everyone for the love and support. I'm so glad to be a part of SparkPeople and to experience the positive human spirit that thrives on here.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TURTLE_MOM 5/9/2011 10:22AM

    That is so awesome - and I'm so happy to see you on here again! What a precious gift you have been given, and your heroes deserve to be honored! Life is not done with you, and you will have a long and full life, I just know it!!! This is wonderful, and it makes me smile :)

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TURTLE_MOM 5/9/2011 10:20AM

    That is so awesome - and I'm so happy to see you on here again! What a precious gift you have been given, and your heroes deserve to be honored! Life is not done with you, and you will have a long and full life, I just know it!!! This is wonderful, and it makes me smile :)

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SNOWANGELDIVA 4/29/2011 10:17PM

    Ryan, seeing you give glory to God for all of the people being in the right place in the right time is amazing. You are invincible until He says otherwise and look at this miraculous event that he chose to use you to glorify all that is still good...the good samaritan spirit of all those that rallied around to save your life.
Praise God that your Sarah and children have you with them.

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MOUSTER 4/22/2011 8:05PM

    that's great you are doing so wonderful!

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100MILLBUTRFLYS 4/22/2011 11:14AM

    it's so great to hear how well you're doing now Ryan! Keep it up!

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Feeling pretty good, considering

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Last month, about this time, I was waking up from a coma and feeling like a train hit me. Today, I’m back at work and took a nice walk during lunch. I would consider this remarkable progress. The best part, I don’t think this would be possible without those around me. And yes, that especially includes my wonderful friends here on Spark. Each day I’m getting better and each day I’m finding new motivation from all of you. This is why the SparkPeople program is so wonderful. It allows us to share with each other, to know one another, and to celebrate with one another. Here is to each one of you. May we all see many happy days ahead as we reach for our goals.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WSPDAVE 4/4/2011 3:41PM

    Hey Ryan,

Just read your blog. It sure is nice to know that there are so many people that you did not know before who care who you are now and how your feeling. It happens to me every day. I just love it. I wish I would have found SparkPeople 30 years ago.

Stick to it remember, We're In It For The Finish.
Big Dave

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BARCLE 3/31/2011 5:44PM

    You're doing fantastically. Have a fantastic weekend emoticon

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REJ7777 3/30/2011 6:28PM

    It's so easy to take our health, and being pain-free, for granted. A life-changing experience like yours is a reminder of just how fragile and precious life is! I'm glad that you are recuperating so well!

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MISSMITSY 3/28/2011 8:40AM

    You are amazing! Awesome work...

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MEANCARLEEN 3/26/2011 10:07AM


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LOBO1978_2000 3/25/2011 10:40AM

    That is some real good progress. Keep it up Ryan.

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100MILLBUTRFLYS 3/24/2011 2:48PM

    takin it a day at a time and already a month has passed! yay you! keep goin! so glad you're doing better every day!

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MOUSTER 3/24/2011 1:46PM

    just think this was also what your 2nd time starting spark and didn't you start a new profile too (if i remember correctly).. called LIFEANDALL ... that name means a lot...

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FREECLOUD 3/24/2011 1:17PM

    We're so happy that you're here to give us your remarkable story, Ryan. Cheers back atcha!

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So I died, now what?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

February 19, 2011 will be marked as the day that changed my life. That is the day I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Usually on Saturday afternoons, I am home alone watching the kids while my wife is at work. If that was the case, I would be dead and buried today. However, someone had other plans for me. My parents were supposed to have visited about a month earlier, but due to a surgery my mom needed, they were out to see us on that day.

I woke up that day feeling great. I was excited to visit my folks and spend time together as a family. They came over, we played a little Kinect, and were going to go out to eat. The plan was to get the kids some birthday presents after that and come back home. It was at the restaurant where things took a turn. Right in the middle of the meal, I died. I slumped back and then over on my son. No pulse, no breathing. My wife was the first to react as she started to clear out the booth and ask people to call 911. There it was, where everyone started to react. One person started procedure for choking, but quickly realized, this wasn’t the case. A New York City firefighter was there, and started CPR. A nurse was there and was checking my airways. The manager got security, which brought an AED device to shock my heart.

In the ambulance, all I remember was them asking me who the President was and what day it was. The next thing I know is shocks. Several of them. I remember the folks in the ER talking about turning the unit up to 300 joules. I remember them asking me to cough and to “hang in there”. I remember my family coming in and out telling me they loved me and then the ER staff saying “there he goes again” and asking my family to leave the area. My family tells me that they could hear me scream while they were outside of the ER. All together, I had 72 shocks and went through nearly two crash carts. I felt about 20 of those shocks, which still haunt me today.

After they got me stable, I was in a medically induced coma for about 2 days. They did many tests on me; a cath, a MRI, a CAT scan, etc. For those that have read my previous blog entries, you will see I’m a relatively healthy guy besides being overweight. I’ve been to my primary care doctor before all of this and had a whole bunch of tests for my check-up. My blood levels were good, blood pressure good, EKG good. I even had a sleep test done because I snore, but there were no problems there either. My heart rate was good throughout the night. The only thing they noticed was my leg twitching while I slept, because I ran so much.

The bottom line is, they have NO IDEA what caused this. This is coming from some of the top doctors in the world (treated at Yale/New Haven Hospital, where several of my doctors teach at Yale Medical School). They are guessing it might be something viral, but even that probably should have showed something on my MRI. So for now, it was just an electrical “fluke” that caused my heart to stop pumping. The good news is, I now have an implanted ICD. It will pace my heart if it goes to low and shock my heart if it goes into a dangerous fibrillation.

The process of healing has been progressing, both physically and mentally. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared still. Yesterday was my first day at work and today is my first day back on SparkPeople. I’ve been taking it slow and hope to be a lot more active soon. For those posting messages and sending me goodies…THANK YOU. I am meaning to respond to each of you as I get the time.

So what limitations do I have? Practically none. I was probably the only one on the Cardiac Intensive Care unit that didn’t have a restricted diet. My heart, blood, etc is healthy, so I can move along. As for exercise, that is limited to walking right now, but should be back to normal within months. The best part about it all…having SparkPeople to turn to. I have a community of friends here that are all motivated by the goal of having a healthy and wonderful life. There is nothing strange about the Spark plan. No weird gimmicks or tricks. Everything on here is sound, proven, health advice.

Which leads me to the title of this blog: So I died, now what? Now, I get back to what I was doing here before. Maybe even more so. Earning those SparkPoints, keeping up with my friends here, and motivating myself and others to get and stay healthy. This is the right place, the right people, and I’m excited to see what our future holds.

Quick Edit: a friend here suggested I post the Newspaper articles. Here is the first one:

Here is the second, follow-up:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 3/30/2011 6:21PM

    emoticon I think we should call you "the Miracle Man". I think God sent some angels to watch over you on that (almost) fatal day! I hope that you have a rapid and complete recovery!

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MISSMITSY 3/28/2011 8:39AM

    Oh wow I'd been thinking about you lately because I hadn't seen you around in a while and I was thinking you weren't sparking anymore... I can't believe that this happened that's so scary! I'm glad they've put in a fail safe so that you don't have to worry about being home alone.... Way to go continuing to spark!

Thank you for the reminder of why we're all here doing the spark thing!

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SKYRUNHER 3/28/2011 7:12AM

    I am so glad you're back! We've missed you! The world is definitely a better place with you in it!

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    So glad you're back.... life is good my friend.. life is good.

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FREECLOUD 3/24/2011 1:16PM

    Virtual hugs, my friend. I was wondering what you've been up to. Didn't even consider sudden death and and a new ICD would be the answer.

I'm so glad this experience hasn't deterred you from continuing to work toward your goals. I work in health care and have seen SO many people thrive after getting an ICD implanted. Continue to do what they tell you and, most importantly, keep that positive mental attitude. I'm so glad you're here.

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KAT130 3/24/2011 12:40PM

    Wow - this post is so amazing...because you are still here to write it! I'm glad you are ok!

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MOMS100 3/23/2011 10:42AM

    WOW! I'm so glad you made it! We really can't take anything for granted, can we? You may be my wake-up call to stop procrastinating. (My middle name, I think.) Glad you're back!

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GICARRIE 3/23/2011 10:27AM

    Amazing! I bet you are living life to it's fullest even more than before. Praise God for protection over you!

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MOUSTER 3/23/2011 9:59AM

    Ryan I'm so glad you are still here with us!! this brought tears to my eyes just like the day you told me what happened. Take it easy, which i know you are doing.. just had to say it emoticon...

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SNOWANGELDIVA 3/23/2011 8:56AM

    You`re invincible until He calls you home.
You have an amazing life, Ryan. Best wishes on your physical and emotional recovery. Blessings to your precious family as well.

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DHSPARK 3/22/2011 6:34PM

    Glad you have come out of it okay. Without all your 'heroes and sheros' the outcome may have been different. Thank goodness you had been working on getting healthier.

Your mission here (on Earth) is not finished. Your guardian angel was on active duty!

Here's to a fast recovery my friend. You have been missed.

Take care... emoticon
Deb :-)

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100MILLBUTRFLYS 3/22/2011 5:54PM

    I'm so glad you've made it back to sparks! I agree that someone had other plans for you that day. Just keep it day by day and you'll make it in no time!

**Hugs** and take care!

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BARCLE 3/22/2011 5:16PM

    Wow, wow, wow!! So glad you're here with us today. I've watched the continuous CPR video and hope I never have to use it but so glad to have that tool available should I ever need it.

What a scary time for you and your family emoticon

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LOBO1978_2000 3/22/2011 4:24PM

    Glad your okay buddy. I felt so relived to hear that you were doing better and seeing you more on XBOX live I felt that you are on the way to recovery. Great to have you back on the boards and when your ready I would like you to help me and Tema head up the Gamer's Fit Team again. You have inspired me in your weight loss journey as well as this event of getting a second shot at life. It has made me reflect my own health as I have been heading the wrong direction for the past year. Good luck with you and hope to see you online on the boards and on Sparks.

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GLC2009 3/22/2011 12:55PM

    welcome back. emoticon

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ANNALISSAS 3/22/2011 12:51PM

    It sounds like you have the mindset to thrive after this. I wish you luck in bouncing back fully and then some!

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BUTTERFLY_MT 3/22/2011 12:48PM

    Wow, I knew the article said you remembered some of it, but that sounds truly scary to remember. My Mom had super-high blood sugar and it looked as though she had had a stroke (she hadn't, though), but she doesn't really remember anything for a few days there. It was still a scary enough event that she now works to keep her blood sugar under control (not perfect, but much more controlled). I think that your life-changing experience was for a lot of us--a true wake up call to take nothing for granted. I'm still amazed that nothing was found wrong and definitely hope/pray that it never happens again. You have been missed and I'm glad that you're now back on SparkPeople.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us...and Welcome Back!!

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KATYMACK 3/22/2011 12:00PM

    Wow, glad you are doing ok. What a amazing story. You have truly been blessed.

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ABRANNEWME2014 3/22/2011 11:52AM

    I'm so glad that you're still here Ryan truly you are my friend and I was so upset when I first heard...But GOD is good....I look foward to you getting back on the boards and getting even healthier....Take it easy my friend...still saying prayers for you and the family...


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LCHADBOURNE 3/22/2011 11:51AM

    Wow, what an amazing story. How wonderful it is that you have a second shot at life...just wow...

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WDWGIRLS 3/22/2011 11:50AM

    Absolutely incredible - talk about being in the right place at the right time with the right people being there too to help you. You and your family certainly have a lot to be thankful for and will never take another day for granted, and hopefully will be praising our grand Creator and Most High God for this blessing of life.

What an incredible experience, and I agree, sounds like a movie or an article in Readers Digest or other publications!

Keep Sparkin! emoticon

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TRACEEAST 3/22/2011 11:38AM

    Wow, what an amazing story. Obviously, your time here is not finished! I wish you the best!

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MIZZLE2105 3/22/2011 11:25AM

    Your story is literally something out of the movies. So glad that you are doing better.

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PERFECTVELVET 3/22/2011 11:01AM

    I am so glad you're okay! You have an amazing support system in all aspects of your life. Glad to see you back on Spark too!

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SHANNONK1222 3/22/2011 10:55AM

    God has blessed you and your family. Welcome back. You are blessed and loved!

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SEXXYBACK2012 3/22/2011 10:49AM

    May God continue to bless you and your family. emoticon emoticon

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TURTLE_MOM 3/22/2011 10:35AM

    I am SO glad to hear from you and was in utter amazement when I heard your story on the Gamer's Fit board. I am so excited to see that you are back, you have a good spirit about you. Wow. You are blessed, and you ARE supposed to still be here with us. I thought about you and your family often, and am just so happy to "see" you again. Take it easy, and be sure to rely on those around you. Don't be a tough guy!

Even though your cardiac arrest had no precursors, it still inspired my husband to change a few things :) I told him how young you were and he started doing some things different. I think your story will touch many! Thank you for sharing it.

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STARRZ57 3/22/2011 10:10AM

    God has blessed you.

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