I never thought something like this could happen to me. I had just turned 51; I was working out twice a day for over 2 1/2 hours; 13% body fat; good diet; low blood pressure, cholestrol level great; all vital signs good! Then it happened and I don't remember a single part of it. On New Years Day - 2009, I had just completed my morning workout and was minutes away from walking out of the gym, which was getting ready to close for the holiday. Following a morning of weight lifting and then an hour of Spin (cycling), I had jogged 1/2 mile and was just walking a couple of laps to cool down. 8 days later I awoke from a coma after having suffered and survived full cardiac arrest.
Just to let you know how fate works, had my cardia arrest occurred just 3-5 minutes later, I would have already left the gym and would have experienced the arrest in my car. The fact that it occurred at the gym is what saved my life because the owner had a defibrillator on hand and all employees were trained on how to use it. When I was discovered, my face was blue and there was no pulse. Following the application of the defibrillator and arrival of a paramedic crew who happened to be nearby, I was taken to the hospital in critical condition. It was estimated I had been dead for 3 minutes.
At some point initially, I was given the last rights by a priest and later when it seemed I was going to survive, it was not certain if I would have brain damage or not. Days later I came to and although I was disoriented, it was apparent that there was no brain damage. At some point during this disorientation period, my mother died and when I was later fully coherent, I was indeed aware that my mother had died; I just don't remember being told.
So the hospital authorities let me out of the hospital early to attend my mother's funeral. Right after the funeral, I went back to my gym, got on the treadmill and after a long "walk," I went and got a pizza and went home and opened a beer. After that I hit the ground running with a rather accelerated physical therapy in which I bent every rule as far as what I should not do with regard to my exercise. In short, my wife, friends and family were concerned I would screw up my recently implanted ICD or suffer another "heart attack." More or less, I scoffed at the whole idea that I had suffered a near-death and very serious experience. In fact, even I admit that immediately following the event and recovery period, I greatly minimized the impact of what really had happened.
They don't know what caused it. An echocardiogram months later revealed a normal heart and intial tests showed no blockages or any major defect. Just one of "those electrical issues is the likely cause." To this day, I will never fully realize what happened or how much it impacted those very close to me; because, quite frankly I don't remember a thing. But one thing is certain. This is the fact that I am one of the most lucky people alive. Lucky from the standpoint of where I was when it happened and lucky to have survived, period!
In a few days (1-1-10) is the one year anniversary of the event. I hope this year is different even though I plan on doing the very same thing I did a year ago. In fact, the Spin class that day is a special charity event whose proceeds are going the the American Heart Association. This year I hope to be a contributor to their work as opposed to being a benefactor.