Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life Can End At Any Time!

By far the scariest pivotal event in my life was my cardiac arrest. I had been having some chest and back discomfort so I underwent a stress test. During the stress test I became suddenly very breathless and had major chest pain. They took me straight to the cath lab. There they found I was having vasospasm but did not have a blockage. They put me on cardizem and we all thought that would be that.

I didn't have any more chest pain after that, but I continued to have pain in my back between my shoulder blades. I thought it was my disc in my neck. It was weird though because it only happened in the mornings as I was getting ready for work. I had to lay down completely still for it to go away.

So one morning in August 2005 (the 17th I believe) I was driving to the hospital to make rounds and I kept having chest pains. It got worse and worse and I walked into the hospital, went straight to the Medical Staff Office, and asked them to call the ER. I then dropped dead. Right there. I did have the foresight to lay down on the floor to make it easier for them to code me (I know that sounds odd, but I have coded people and getting the dead weight from sitting to laying is very hard and wastes precious time).

I did not see a bright light or dead loved ones. Maybe I wasn't dead long enough since I was in a hospital and had almost immediate help. Everything just went dark and I did not remember anything until I woke up in ICU. I do remember being extubated, and I remember feeling like I had to pee but everyone kept telling me I had a catheter in. Tom was there, and lots of nurses and other medical personnel.

The decision was made to send me to AGH where they could  implant a defibrillator. Washington now does this but they didn't back then. I spent almost a week there and got my defibrillator after I healed up from the arrest and biting my tongue. I was right by the heliport and didn't get much sleep due to helicopters coming in and out.

It is still hard to believe how close I came to really dying that day! I tend to minimize it to stay sane, but I know it happened. I don't like to dwell on it--it is way too scary! But it was definitely a defining moment in my life and a major pivotal event!

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