Location of Event – Gym
The following is an e-mail message Tom sent to his co-workers.
Happy Friday! It's Great to Be Alive!
On Saturday, December 5th, 2015, I went to the Lemont park district gym to work out like I do almost every day. I spent a half hour on an elliptical machine like I always do. Every other day, I throw in four sets of pull-ups and push-ups. This was one of those days. In the middle of doing a set of pull-ups, I passed out and collapsed on the ground.
As luck would have it, Sebastian Koziel, a 23-year-old who had just started to go to school to become an EMT, was right there waiting for his turn on the pull-up bar. He said my heart had stopped and I wasn’t breathing, so he immediately began CPR. For liability reasons, the park district manager told him not to provide me with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He said after performing three minutes of chest compressions, I was starting to turn blue, so he said, and I quote, “F--- those idiots” and started mouth-to-mouth.
Meanwhile, Randy McGregor, a Lemont Firefighter who happened to be working out there too, grabbed the AED and started charging it up. Two defibrillator shocks later, my heart was beating again. The paramedics showed up shortly thereafter to take me to Silver Cross Hospital Intensive Care Unit, 10 minutes away in New Lenox, IL. One of their heart surgeons put a stent in, originally thinking that was all that would be needed. Turns out that all of my arteries were so clogged up, they determined I would require bypass surgery. Since they do not perform open heart surgery at Silver Cross, they put me into a medically induced coma, lowered my body temp to 89 degrees and transferred me to St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet, IL.
On Thursday, December 10th, they brought me out of the coma to get prepared for surgery on Friday, the 11th. Seven and a half hours and five bypassed arteries later, I came out of surgery with flying colors. A few hours later, Sebastian showed up to see how I was doing and tell me what had happened.
The surgeons and nurses said my recovery was remarkable, so I was released from the hospital the evening of Tuesday, December 15th. I will have an in-home rehab nurse visiting me a few times a week and won’t be able to drive for the next month. I lost a couple of days of memory (can’t remember the Death Cab for Cutie Show I saw the Thursday evening before or a first date I had on Friday evening) but that’s a pretty small price to pay.
Thanks to Sebastian and Randy’s quick work, I’m able to say “Happy Friday -- it’s truly great to be alive!”
P.S. There were no warning signs whatsoever. I've been on Lipitor for over seven-plus years, sober for nearly as long, worked out nearly every day since college and have annual check-ups. If it happened anywhere other than the gym, with my new EMT in-training and Firefighter guardian angels, you'd probably be sending my family your condolences and asking where the wake was being held. No matter what kind shape you're in, I strongly recommend getting an EKG and stress test if you have had any family history of heart disease.
Nominated by Tom Lane