What started as a normal Tuesday evening became a nightmare before the night was out. Kathie and her husband went to bed, watched bit of FoodNetwork TV and chatted about the day. Around 10:30 pm Scott woke to an odd sound. Kathie doesn’t snore, but she was making strange noises, and yet she appeared asleep. She did not seem conscious at all, and wasn't breathing. As a Flagstaff Sheriff’s deputy he was trained as a first-responder, so he tried a sternum rub to wake Kathie up—to no effect.
Suddenly very worried, he turned on the lights, moved Kathie to the floor and started CPR.
“He couldn’t get a breath in and so he was basically just doing chest compressions,” Kathie said quietly.
He managed to get one deep breath into Kathie, and that gave him time to get the phone and call 9-1-1. They called the neighbor, a Flagstaff Sheriff deputy colleague of Scott's, and dispatched the Guardian ground ambulance. However, Kathie lived around 12 miles from Flagstaff so there was a travel delay. Scott by this time needed help with the CPR since Kathie was not responding at all. He and Ron, the neighbor, took turns doing the compressions until the EMTs arrived with the all important epinephrine and an AED.
Four shocks later, Kathie was stabilized enough for the transport to the medical center. She was placed on the hypothermia bed to protect her brain tissue, although there were some technical issues with leaking cooling water.
“Late Friday night they decided to fly me to Phoenix for the electrophysiology study. On Monday I had an MRI and the EP study where they found I had cardiomyopathy,” Kathie explained. “They said a virus had gotten in [to her heart muscle] much like the flu virus. It sat there until the left side stopped working, and the right side compensated as long as it could.”
She had a pacemaker/ICD implanted and was home by Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Kathie’s two small children had not witnessed her ordeal the week earlier.
“All the commotion and moving of furniture, sirens and everything, they slept through the whole thing!” Kathie exclaimed.
However, on the Friday night before she was transported, the children got to say goodbye.
“Because they [the medical staff] didn’t really know how this was going to go,” Kathie stated. “It’s documented that I was deceased for more than 18 minutes!”