A once in a lifetime opportunity to study in Spain, five grandchildren, three half-marathons, two 10K races and – no, not a partridge in a pear tree - but travel with new friends from that trip to Spain. These are just some of the important events that Beverly Buxareo would have missed out on if her “angel” were not there to apply CPR and restart her heart 10 years ago.
January 23, 2010 was a day that changed Beverly’s life forever. That is the day Beverly, then a 50-year-old teacher, collapsed on a walking trail at North Park in the Pittsburgh area and was revived by another walker, who to this day has remained anonymous.
Ten years later she is healthy and vibrant but, as she stated in a recent email, the road back was not always smooth.
“My recovery was very difficult,” she said, “and although everyone else saw me as ‘recovered’ I struggled with the reality of my survival both psychologically and physically.”
But about a year and a half after her life-changing event, Beverly was offered an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up – a scholarship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for five weeks of study in Spain which, in Beverly’s words, “helped to push me out of my comfort zone of being careful all the time and challenged me to recapture my old self.”
Although the circumstances of her illness temporarily changed her interaction with family and friends, she was glad that they were there to help. “As I regained consciousness” (from a drug-induced coma) “relief set in for them and the work of recovery began for me.” But that doesn’t mean that Beverly was looking for sympathy.
“I am grateful that my family never treated me like an invalid and they were patient with my memory issues,” she said, echoing the sentiment of most SCA victims who also report that their memories were foggy after the event and those around them had to endure a litany of ‘what happened’ even though the answer had been provided numerous times.
Last month, Beverly held a fundraiser for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation in honor of her 10-year anniversary and says that she was “supported very much by my friends and family” once again.
New and different activities have also become a regular part of Beverly’s life since recovering.
“I have always been easily scared and somewhat high-strung,” she says. But since experiencing the kind of trauma associated with SCA, she has reevaluated her priorities, saying “I was afraid to fly (but since my SCA) I have traveled more, biked in Europe, in the mountains and locally.
Sounds like a pretty good 10 years!
By A.J. Caliendo