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: