My story

My story

My new birthday is October 28, 2015.
At the time of my event, I was 55 years old. I was an active runner who enjoyed participating in multiple 5k races throughout the year. In the year before my event, I had taken up swimming as my son, who was in his second year of college, had been a high school swimmer. I thought swimming would be less wear and tear on my joints. My usual routine was to swim three days a week and run three days a week; this kept me fit although I always had about ten pounds to lose. I did have high blood pressure for which I took medication. I also had somewhat high cholesterol for which I did nothing as I did not like the body aches associated with the medication.
In the days/week leading up to 10/28/15 I had developed a head cold. On October 27, 2015 I decided to go out for a run on my usual course. As I was heading back I remember seeing my wife's car drive off from our house on her way to work. Just a usual day except the head cold.
The next morning, the 28th, I got up and took a photo of an ankle brace that I recently received. I had broken my foot about 30 years earlier and was finally paying the price. The brace, however, was ridiculous. Certainly nothing I could run in. I took the picture so I could send it to my daughter. She was in her first year of college, and I thought she would get a chuckle out of this contraption.
My plan on the 28th was to go to the Greater Waterbury YMCA and get a swim that morning. At the time, I had worked my way up to over a mile which was 72 laps. On a good day I would average 75 to 90 laps.
When I arrived, I chatted with the life guard, Sal, which was my usual routine. When I got to about thirty laps I noticed that I was very tired and very dizzy. I decided to stop and go to the steam room hoping the steam would clear up my head and lungs. I had never done so few laps except when I first started to swim.
I walked out of the pool area talking with Sal. This is where my memory ends until I woke up at Yale a few days later.
I later learned that after I left the pool, I went down to the steam room. At some point, I collapsed to the floor in the steam room. Andrew, a Y staff member happened to be in the steam room and he dragged me out. He saw that I was turning purple and had no pulse. He summoned help. Angie, another staff member arrived with an AED; she and Sal started CPR. A local Fire Fighter/YMCA member, Ralph, someone I have known of my whole life, continued compressions and administered the AED. It is estimated that I lost somewhere between two and five minutes of oxygen.
Eventually EMTs arrived and transported me to St. Mary's hospital less than a mile away. On the transport, I apparently received several more shocks.
At St. Mary's I received more heroic care. Ultimately I was transported to Yale because my ribs had been separated from my sternum due to the CPR.
I received two stents at Yale for two moderate blockages and I was discharged about a week later.
The care I received from the moment I collapsed to the moment I was discharged was exceptional and I am forever in debt to those who saved my life and those who have helped me to continue up to the present moment.
I cannot dwell to much on what would have happened if I had arrested while I was out on my run the day before, or if I had been alone in that steam room that day.
While I had stents placed in two of the moderately blocked arteries, one very small branch remained 100% blocked as it was too small to safely insert a stent.
I began cardiac rehab at St. Mary's Hospital. I cannot express how much I benefited from this therapy both physically and emotionally.
It was ultimately decided that my remaining blockage required a defibrillator, and I had a defibrillator placed within ninety days after my original cardiac arrest.
After a period of recovery, I resumed my cardiac rehab.
I participated in my first 5k about seven months later. My time was about three times slower than what I had been doing before, but I was so happy to finish.
When I reached my next birthday, I went out for a run on a very hot and humid day. Because I was pressed for time, I ran about as fast as I could for the last quarter mile or so. When I got home and began to remove my running shoes I cardiac arrested again. My defibrillator saved my life.
I went in for another catheterization a week or so later and the small artery that remained blocked now has a stent.
I still work out, but I now keep my heart rate below 150; thanks fit bit.
Every day is a struggle and a gift.

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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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