A visit to the dentist saved his life.

A visit to the dentist saved his life.

Steve Doochin, Scarsdale, NY – 50 at time of event (2000) - now DECEASED

Steve was more than the average type A personality, maybe even type AAA. Now, he feels more like a type A-. He was pushing the envelope of life and feeling a little clammy one June day in 2000, while at a CVS store getting the prescriptions for their kids’ summer camp. He recalled a recent visit to the dentist, where he was told he had high blood pressure. So, while waiting for the prescriptions, he tried out the blood pressure cuff, and said to himself “There’s something wrong with this machine.” The reading just didn’t seem right.

The next morning Steve still felt clammy and, on the way to an unpleasant appointment at Long Island, he decided to stop off at the doctor’s office for a quick check-up. Steve’s wife, Cheryl, is glad he did. The other patients in the waiting room were not. He ruined their day by collapsing in the exam room. All nine physicians, including two cardiologists, and the nurses, crammed into the tiny space and applied the paddles three times to get Steve back.“

That’s what I went into medicine for!” one of the doctors told Steve weeks later—saving lives instead of giving flu shots, dealing with cut fingers and writing out endless scripts. Steve still goes to that medical center and each time he learns a little more about what happened to him that summer day in 2000. Steve says, “I was the object of what took place. I can tell you about the going in, and the coming out of it, but that’s all I really know.” The rest is just a story he’s been told several times. One of Steve’s colleagues at work has a son who was one of the volunteer fireman crew that transported Steve to the hospital, so he has filled in even more of the details. Oh, and every year, in late June, a friend from Israel emails him to say happy anniversary, otherwise Steve just wouldn’t remember.

Steve is perplexed to this day, since, just like Tim Russert, he had passed a stress test not many months earlier. And he still passes the test each year, so he wonders how effective it is, even the radioactive nuclide stress test. He is slim, a non-smoker, rarely drinks alcohol, and even exercises often. He wouldn’t, however, say his diet was the healthiest, and does love his sweets. And his heart also has an “extra beat”, which is called an arrhythmia—not usually life threatening, it is a cause for regular checkups.

Once he was stabilized and the cause of the arrest had been determined, Steve underwent a heart catheterization to insert several coronary artery stents. This procedure is designed to hold open the blocked arteries with slotted stainless steel tubes and restore the blood flow. It unfortunately didn’t prevent him suffering a stroke some years later. This is a serious condition where part of the brain is starved of oxygen, and was probably due to a clot blocking the arteries feeding his brain. He just fell out of bed one morning and it was obvious to his wife that he was not acting normally. Drugs were the solution rather than surgery, although Steve is not all that happy with the side effects. Steve is looking at life differently now, changing his workload (revealing to me that “I’m an idiot” in relation to working too hard), and even purchasing a WiiFit exercise computer game. He was a little perturbed to find the machine rated him as OLDER than his chronological years. He wonders if maybe there is a message there?

-Jeremy Whitehead

NOTE: We regret to report that Steve died from sudden cardiac arrest in a hotel restroom on February 16, 2010. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Cheryl Sandler, and family.

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The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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