Am I The Only One?

Am I The Only One?

Nancy Pyrro, Littleton, MA – 49 at time of event (2002)

Nancy was packing boxes at 5:30am. She had sold her condo and needed to get out, but she also had to go to work! It was therefore a stressful period in her life. More stress than she bargained for, and certainly more stress than Wayne, now her husband, anticipated. Nancy complained about a back ache, and also that her chest was painful. She went downstairs and stood outside near his truck. Realizing that Nancy’s complaint was serious Wayne helped her into the truck and they set off for the hospital.
“We were going down the highway and I said, ‘I think I’m going to pass out’ and that was it, I dropped dead.” Nancy said in a calm voice.

Wayne apparently floored it, and raced to Emerson Hospital at around 100mph.
“Thank God I was dead!” Nancy said in relation to his driving, “otherwise I would’ve died then!”
A few minutes later they reached the ER, and the staff struggled to get Nancy out of the truck.
“Wayne freaked out and said ‘I’ve finally met the love of my life—I will take her in!’ He’s such a wonderful man!” Nancy said proudly.

The defibrillator was used 11 times before Nancy’s heartbeat returned. However, Nancy was in serious danger, and this hospital did not do angioplasty. She needed to be transferred immediately. The cardiologist didn’t think she was stable enough, but he was soon convinced by her family to proceed.

The Lahey clinic, in Burlington, soon corrected the blockage that had caused her cardiac arrest, but post-operative complications required her to remain in the induced coma for two weeks to help her recover. The family were warned that she might not revive, since she had suffered severe lack of oxygen and would be brain damaged at best.
“Sadly, my mother was on a ventilator in hospital in Newport RI. I had gone the day before to see her. It was so ironic that she was there, and I was crash’n’burning in Lahey!”
Wayne, her boyfriend at that time, apparently said to Nancy in a severe tone. “You have to wake up. I’m going to take you to Aruba and we’re going to get married.” Nancy opened her eyes and nodded! She also attempted to remove the breathing tube so they sedated her again. During that five weeks she received an ICD in addition to the stent, due to the risk of future cardiac arrests since her EF* is only 35%. Nancy was happy with 25 pounds she lost from her month or so on the intravenous drips!

Much of this story is news to Nancy. In fact she has trouble remembering last week, let alone her arrest seven years ago. She is officially disabled, retaining short term memory and multitasking are no longer possible.
“The day I died was the day I had my last cigarette. [In the recovery ward] my daughter asked me ‘How’re doing not smoking?’ and I looked at her and said ‘I smoked?’ ” Nancy recalled with a chuckle. She had been puffing away for over thirty years and it was the cause of her cardiac issues. Well, she also admits that her diet wasn’t perfect.
“Just take care of your self, and put away the gravy!” Nancy said with a laugh.

Oh, they did get married, and travel to Aruba every year to celebrate.

When asked about those anniversaries Nancy replied, “I though I was the only one!” She wasn’t aware that there are many survivors, and more every day being saved. She was pleased to find the SCA Foundation and her new “family”.
“You can only talk about it to your family so often, they start to get upset. The horror of those five weeks.”

-Jeremy Whitehead
*Ejection Fraction (EF) is a measure of heart performance, describing the ratio between blood entering the heart and that “ejected” during contraction of the ventricles. A normal range is 50-55%, below 35% is considered dangerous for SCA.

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