I'm a 59-year-old professional woman, overweight by about 80 lbs. but extremely healthy other than that. I have never had to take any medications, have no history of any kind of illness, and have only been in the hospital once, to have my son, by C section, 26 years ago!
February 28, 2020, was just another day. I had to stop at the dentist for a quick check on some periodontal cleaning that had been done the week before, then went home early from work to meet my husband for happy hour. We drove about half an hour away to the restaurant, sat down and ordered wine. Suddenly, I felt odd. Like, light-headed, queasy-ish. Enough so I said to my husband "You need to keep an eye on me I don't feel right." Only, I didn't get the whole sentence out. I slumped in my chair, and that was that.
He stood up and came to me trying to figure out what was wrong. The biggest blessing of my life happened then, when a retired firefighter, who happened to be at the next table, jumped in and took over. He said I had no pulse and started CPR. The restaurant couldn't find its AED unit. They called the police. An officer arrived almost instantly and apparently between him and the firefighter, they kept up the CPR. An ambulance arrived and I was hooked up to the automatic CPR machine (I don't know, that's what I've been told.) En route to the hospital, I finally came back. I remember it being dark in the ambulance and a man saying "she's still tachy, but she's here." The rest is a blur. I woke up, at some point, in the hospital, and asked 5 questions, which set the tone for my next 18 hours. Where am I? Am I in the hospital? Was I in an accident? Why does my chest hurt so bad? Did I have a heart attack? (and also "I have a headache")
Apparently, I asked these questions so many times that they decided to do an MRI thinking I might have had a stroke or something. I was fine, no evidence of anything wrong with my brain. They catheterized my heart, ran all sorts of tests, found no blockages, nothing. The left side of my heart apparently had slight damage, but they determined it was from the SCA event. My bloodwork was perfect, my triglycerides were 67, my blood sugar was good, my liver is healthy. Everything is good. Except my heart broke.
I spent the next 4 days in the hospital, on blood pressure meds, and other things, having tests, and being observed. I was then transported to another hospital where an ICD was implanted in my chest. I now have my very own defibrillator/pacemaker. My cardiologist still does not know what caused the arrest and says we may never know.
When I came home, it took several weeks to heal, because I had so much CPR. They tell me nothing was broken, but wow, I was in a lot of pain. I also had the added stress, on returning home, of the start of the COVID-19 shelter in place. It's been a blessing, as my husband has had to work from home for the SIP, and was able to take care of me.
Because of COVID, I've really not had a lot of "after" support. I had 1 in-person visit with a nurse practitioner a week after getting home from the hospital, 1 call with the cardiologist, a few emails, and 3 phone visits with the nurse practitioner. Fortunately, she is lovely, and we have really hit it off. She says she's happy with my progress.
Now we are both back to work, from home, and I'm sitting here in my "home office" with my exercise bike behind me. I started biking about 3 weeks after I came home, at 5 minutes per session, twice a day. I'm now up to 7-8 miles a day, in 1 30-40 minute session.
I understand that only 6% of people who suffer from SCA survive, and I feel incredibly blessed. I'm only 59. I want to live to be 90 or so! Here's to many more years on this beautiful planet.