Only Five Percent Survive. I’m One Of The Five Percent
On Thursday, May 18 a little past three in the afternoon my life changed. Forever. That morning was just like any other morning.
I went to work just like any other day. Went home and enjoyed some leftovers from the night before. I love to eat. Afterwards, I stopped by and visited a couple of clients and then headed back to the office. Finished some paperwork, swiveled around and filed it in the cabinet. Spun back around toward my desk. Suddenly I felt light headed. Really light headed. I remember saying to myself, “Wooow. I’ve never felt like this before.” I laid my head on my desk as my brain tingled and surged with an overwhelming rush I had never experienced before. I remember thinking to myself, “Standup. Shake it off.” I began to push myself up and that’s the last thing I remember.
The rest of my story is pieced together by talking to my co-workers, family, friends, and doctors. You see, I found out later that I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at work. I was clinically dead. I’ve learned that only 5 out of 100 people survive an out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Now, for those of you who don’t know what Sudden Cardiac Arrest is in plain English, it’s when your heart stops pumping blood to the rest of your body. You pass out. And 95 times out of a 100 you don’t survive. It’s not a heart attack. It’s an electrical problem with the heart.
Through the Grace of God, two co-workers heard me fall to the ground. Seth yelled, “Mike! You OK?” No response from me. Co-worker Jeff, “Mike, Are you OK?” as he slid his chair back into the hallway to look in my direction. With no response from me Jeff rushed to my cube and saw me lying lifeless and my face turning a strange color of purple. I’ve never been a Viking fan.
Luckily, Jeff had some CPR training years ago and he remembered enough to know what to do. Meanwhile, Seth called 911 who began to give them instructions. Chad came running down the hall. He tilted my neck back and made sure my air way was open. In researching SCAs, receiving CPR within the first two minutes is essential to survival. I am a miracle. The Right Place. The Right Time. The Right People.
I was told that Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue and Paramedic Plus was on the scene within 4 minutes. We’re located only a few blocks from Paramedic Plus. When the paramedics arrived, they took over and relieved my co-workers or should I say “My life savers”. I’ve been told and read it in my hospital report that they had to cardiovert me twice to get my heart beating again. That’s when they use those metal paddle thing-a-ma-jigs that you always see on TV and they yell, “Clear.” I’ve read that for every minute that goes by without a heartbeat your chances of survival decrease by 10 percent. I guess those who saw me that day, at that time, were petrified at what they saw. I know I would have been. It’s the kind of thing you don’t think about or expect. It’s something you will never forget if you experience it. Like I say I was in “The Right Place at the Right Time with the Right People”.
It so happens that my office is less than 2 miles from the Avera Heart Hospital. From what I’ve read, I was transported and in the Emergency Room in about 12 minutes from the start of my SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest). Yep. The Right Place. The Right Time. The Right People. The ER Team took over and started IV’s with heart meds to help stabilize me. I was still un-conscious and completely unaware of what was happening. I was the lucky one. My wife, Kim, my two boys, Shawn and Brandon, along with friends and co-workers were having to deal with the stress and uncertainty of my condition.
Kim told me how one of the doctors told her that I was still in critical condition and they wouldn’t know for sure how I would come out of it (possible brain damage) or if I would come out of it at all. These are the types of conversations that you never think you’ll have about your spouse but you never know. You just never know. By this time it was past 7:00 PM. A little later came some positive news. The doctor came out and told Kim that he thought I had responded to his request to squeeze his hand. I seem to recall someone saying, “Mike. Squeeze my hand. Squeeze my hand.” Although it was still unclear how I would ultimately come out of it.
From the ER they moved me to the cardio lab, luckily for me, I was already at the Avera Heart Hospital and all the experts that I needed were right there! They performed an angiogram to check the arteries in my heart. Although it showed some clogging of the arteries it was not to the extent that they needed to put in stints or operate on the heart. In my case, the cardiac arrest was due to an electrical problem with the heart.
Around 9:00 PM they moved me to a hospital room. Time would tell. I was in and out of consciousness over the next couple of hours. Seeing faces. Waving with a finger and going back to sleep. Still no one was sure how I would be mentally. The team at Avera got me stabilized and gave me a fighting chance. Now we would have to wait and see. I recall waking up shortly after 10:00 PM and wanting the tubes out of my throat so I could talk. Still groggy, I looked over to my wife and smiled. I remember seeing my boss, Jake. Not too long after that, I cracked my first joke. That’s when we had a pretty good idea that I was going to be OK. Kim always tells me, “You’re not funny”, and I’m always telling her, “Yes, I really am funny. People tell me I’m funny.” I think that night she was happy to hear me joking around.
The following Monday, they gave me an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) and on Tuesday, five days after my “Event” they sent me home to recuperate. That’s what I call it. “The Event”. It’s been 9 weeks now and I’m feeling about 99.5% back to normal. I’ve even played a few rounds of golf. I still stink at it, but strangely, I’m playing a little bit better now.
I cannot express how blessed I feel and how thankful I am to all of the people involved in saving my life. Jeff, Seth, Chad, Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue, Paramedics Plus, the doctors and nurses at Avera Heart Hospital, and my heavenly Father. I know He sent me back here to take care of my family. I also think He wants me to help educate people on Sudden Cardiac Arrest and ask people to take the time to learn CPR. The life you save could be your spouse, child, friend, or a stranger. Over 325,000 people die each year from SCA. That’s more people than Alzheimer’s, assault with firearms, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, HIV, house fires, motor vehicle accidents, prostate cancer and suicides, COMBINED. I’ve created a Go Fund Me page, “Dollars for Defibrillators” to raise money to buy AED’s for the Sioux Falls Metro Area. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is the essential tool to saving the life of someone who is having a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It’s the one thing that can start the heart to beat again. Please give a dollar, five dollars, a hundred dollars. Whatever you can. The money you give could save the life of someone you love.
Each AED costs about $1,100.00. Go Big or Go Home. Isn’t that what they say? My goal is to place 100 additional defibrillators around the Sioux Falls area. That’s $110,000. That’s my goal. Pass this along to everyone you know. PLEASE. Help save more lives.
This story is true. The names have not been changed. They are real people and if it weren’t for them I would not be here today. My wife wouldn’t have a husband. My sons would not have a dad. My co-workers and friends would miss my smiling face and sense of humor (because I really am funny).
Learn CPR as soon as you can. Classes are free and only take about an hour. You’ll need to get 10 to 20 friends, co-workers or family members together and call Jeremy at Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue at 367-8271 or call me at 929-8870 and we’ll work together to get a group of 10 together.
Story Credit: http://ksoo.com/only-five-percent-survive-im-one-of-the-five-percent/