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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:
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • REJ7777
    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!
    2636 days ago
    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!
    2639 days ago
    I am so glad you're back! We've missed you! The world is definitely a better place with you in it!
    2639 days ago
    So glad you're back.... life is good my friend.. life is good.
    2643 days ago
    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.
    2643 days ago
  • KAT130
    Wow - this post is so amazing...because you are still here to write it! I'm glad you are ok!
    2643 days ago
  • MOMS100
    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!
    2644 days ago
    Amazing! I bet you are living life to it's fullest even more than before. Praise God for protection over you!
    2644 days ago
    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 ...
    2644 days ago
    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.
    2644 days ago
    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 :-)
    2644 days ago
    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!
    2645 days ago
    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
    2645 days ago
  • JLOBO1978
    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.
    2645 days ago
  • GLC2009
    welcome back. emoticon
    2645 days ago
    It sounds like you have the mindset to thrive after this. I wish you luck in bouncing back fully and then some!
    2645 days ago
    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!!
    2645 days ago
    Wow, glad you are doing ok. What a amazing story. You have truly been blessed.
    2645 days ago
    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...

    2645 days ago
    Wow, what an amazing story. How wonderful it is that you have a second shot at life...just wow...
    2645 days ago
    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
    2645 days ago
    Wow, what an amazing story. Obviously, your time here is not finished! I wish you the best!
    2645 days ago
  • MIZZLE2105
    Your story is literally something out of the movies. So glad that you are doing better.
    2645 days ago
    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!
    2645 days ago
  • SHANNONK1222
    God has blessed you and your family. Welcome back. You are blessed and loved!
    2645 days ago
    May God continue to bless you and your family. emoticon emoticon
    2645 days ago
    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.
    2645 days ago
  • STARRZ57
    God has blessed you.
    2645 days ago
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