As a survivor of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), I wanted to share my story in hopes it may encourage others to learn CPR and not be afraid to step in if someone needs help.
I have no memory of my SCA, the day leading up to, or the several days following. These accounts come from my wife, family and friends, and from a recording of the 911 call.
At the time of my SCA, I was 33 years old, a husband, and father of two boys (2.5 year old and 4 month old). I was in good health with no personal or family history of heart problems. All the subsequent tests came back normal, and to this day, the doctors still do not understand why I suffered a cardiac arrest.
For all of the uncertainty surrounding the event, one very big certainty stands out…my wife saved my life.
I am told that July 20, 2012 had been a rather uneventful day. After getting our boys to bed, my wife and I relaxed for a few before turning in for the night ourselves. She woke suddenly a little after 2:00 am, and quickly knew something was wrong as I struggled to breathe. She called 911, and while speaking to the operator, I became unresponsive and stopped breathing. At the direction of the 911 operator, and with knowledge she had received in a CPR training class she had taken at work several years earlier, she rolled me off the bed and began hands-only CPR.
She continued giving compressions until fire and EMS arrived and took over. They were able to shock my heart back into rhythm and transported me to the hospital, where I received excellent care including therapeutic hypothermia. The outlook early on for my survival was grim. Even after I was stabilized, I was in an induced coma while undergoing the hypothermia treatment, and no one knew what kind of brain damage I had likely suffered. Thankfully, just seven days later, I walked out of the hospital with no health or neurologic problems. The doctors have told me, and I have no doubt, that my recovery was miraculous. They say that there are about 750 cardiac arrests in my community annually and only 5-10% survive. If my wife had not done what she did, my chance for survival goes to zero.
The diagnosis wasunexplained ventricular fibrillation and I now have an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in case it were to happen again. I have lived a normal life since the event and our daughter was born 7 months ago. I encourage everyone to learn hands-only CPR. Statistics show that 80% of cardiac arrests happen inside a private residence which means, chances are, the person you will perform CPR on will be a loved one or someone close to you.