It was a beautiful day, azure sky punctuated with cotton ball clouds and a sun so bright you needed to shield your eyes as if someone was arc-welding. My first thought was to grab a cup of coffee, a good book and go out on the screened-in porch and curl up in a big chair.
Mark Twain said, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”
I put on a pot of coffee, turned around and started feeling woozy. I went to wake my wife to tell her I was not feeling well.
She asked how can I help?
I replied, “Not that kind of feel-good, call 911”
She, as wives do, started ordering me around. “Go sit down. I will check your blood pressure.”
I turned around and collapsed on the bathroom floor. Dispatch at 911 answered and listened to my wife’s comments and asked if I was breathing. My wife replied “No.”
The dispatcher asked if she could do CPR.
“Is there anyone there that can”
“Yes, my son.”
“Get him quick. Put the phone on speaker and place it close to your husband’s mouth, I need to hear if he is breathing and give instructions to your son.”
911 instructed him to push on my chest, then told him “You’re not pushing hard enough! Push!”
My son replied, “I don’t want to hurt him.”
“You can’t hurt him son, he is dead. Push harder. Jump on him if you have to.”
I was resuscitated 3 times at home, 3 times in the ambulance. I had suffered Adult Sudden Death Syndrome; not a heart attack, it just quit beating.
ASDS has a one percent survival rate, 8 percent if you are a patient in a hospital connected to a cardiac monitor. Of that percentage half to three quarters do not recover normal mental activity. Without oxygen, the brain survives for 8 minutes, then you join the carrot family.
This is the sequence of events: I was in the house less than 20 feet from my wife. I was not driving to work, at work, at home working in the garage or yard.
The EMS Fire Station was less than a quarter mile. They responded in 6 minutes. The ambulance was at the front of the subdivision, just coming back from a run. They were there in 10 minutes.
The emergency personnel could not get a breathing tube down my throat. Because of my status, Code Black, Dead on Arrival, a surgeon was waiting to perform a tracheotomy in the ambulance, but he got the tube down my throat.
I was in intensive care for 16 days, 11 of those in a coma. To keep me alive, my wife approved hyper-thermal protocol. This is a procedure to take your body temperature way down so metabolic activity slows to almost nothing. With each passing day the neural surgeon’s prognostications grew worse. They tried to bring me out 4 times and each time my heart stopped. My wife fell into a mental abyss. The neural surgeon said that if I survived, I would not be functional.
On the twelfth day they brought me out and my eyes opened and I squeezed my wife’s hand and said her name. The doctors and staff dubbed me “Miracle Man.” Three months later, the EMS staff, the fire department, and the hospital staff held a luncheon to celebrate my survival! Those people need positive input, and I was it.
I am far from the best candidate for survival. I’m a smoker with a stressful job and I get no exercise. My granddaughter’s orthodontist, 43, died at the gym while working out. He had no bad habits, ran marathons and worked out religiously. He died of the same thing that almost killed me.
A miracle sequence of events and the intervention of a higher power allows me to write this.
But the imponderable question is, “Why?”
– J. R. Shaw, firstname.lastname@example.org