Squash - Play It Till You Drop!

Squash - Play It Till You Drop!

Alexander Martin, Owings Mills, MD – 60 at time of event (2006)

Sandy is a die hard squash player, fit and powerful and of average height. He likes the doubles game best, and is quite competitive. In fact they have an annual championship between his family and the Corrigans, the in-laws, from the Metropolitan club in Washington DC, that’s running on 15 years now.

But, it nearly ended in the summer of 2006. Sandy and his partner had just won a five game match, and everyone had left the court. Sandy felt the need to hit a few more balls into the front wall. He wandered back onto the court and promptly fell down.
A locker room attendant had been watching the game from the gallery and allegedly called out, “Mr Martin’s left out!”
That’s a squash term indicating a foul, but in this case it wasn’t a match point!
His partner alerted the club Pro in his office, and fortunately they had an AED in the building. Within a few minutes it was in use and saving Sandy’s life. The EMTs took sometime to arrive and promptly took him to Mercy emergency ward. Once stabilized Sandy was transferred to Johns Hopkins hospital and by the end of the week Sandy was awake with no knowledge whatsoever about his event. He does have an ICD in his shoulder to remind him, and it performed a memory stimulus two years later!

Surprise, surprise, it was just after a squash game, this time in the Nation’s capital. Sandy had just beaten a younger man at a singles match, in just four games. He was cooling off watching another game when he felt a jolt. Sandy had thought a squash ball had hit him. He suddenly turned around to find no one there. Ten seconds later it hit him again.
“Oh, no it’s the defibrillator,” Sandy told himself.
Someone went off to get the oxygen and an AED, but Sandy said “No, I don’t need a defibrillator!”.
He sat on the bench just as a third jolt hit him. That made him lay down on the floor, in an effort to calm himself and stop the adrenaline flowing. It worked. The ambulance duly arrived and he had another emergency trip to the hospital where they checked him out. His device is programmed to deliver therapy when his heart rate exceeds 183 beats a minute. Sandy’s wife has tried to tell him to quit the squash—to no avail. But, he has agreed to no more singles matches with younger men!

“I’m kinda glad it [the ICD] did go off, Sandy said in reflection. “[Although], now I don’t want it to go off again!” Elaborating on the adjustment to living with an ICD, Sandy commented, “I was kind of curious, when they put it in, asking them ‘Why is it in there?’ Well now I know why!”

Sandy’s family has a history of heart disease and he had a bypass surgery ten years earlier and a stent procedure a few years prior to his cardiac arrest. But the regular heart stress tests did not indicate his propensity for the deadly arrhythmia. Consequently Sandy is committed to raising the awareness of SCA and advocates strongly for AED deployment, and is now an active spokesperson for Cardiac Science.

-Jeremy Whitehead

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