Posted by SCAFoundation on 02/13/2012
Mike Connolly, Vista, CA – 56 at time of event (2009)
Mike Connolly, Vista, CA – 56 at time of event (2009)

Breakfast was spoiled early one Saturday morning. Loris, Mike’s wife, heard a strange sound and came looking for Mike. She had been getting ready for work, and was surprised to see her husband unconscious in his lounge chair with a cereal bowl beside him. Mike was not breathing, but there was no way Loris could do anything about it—despite knowing CPR. He’s 6’8” and over 250lbs, she’s only 5’1” and l00lbs. She just couldn’t budge him off the chair!

“That’s a terrible difference ya’know,” Mike said with a chuckle.

Loris did call 9-1-1 and the EMTS arrived, just over six minutes later. It took three of them to get Mike out of the chair, and several more for the transfer into the ambulance! He received seven shocks, twice on the kitchen floor, and five more times before they got to Tri-City Hospital. He then spent four days in a coma. During the first day “asleep” Mike was wrapped in a cooling blanket, this hypothermia treatment helps prevent brain damage. However the ten minutes or so of no pulse that Saturday morning caused him some degree of harm. Each attempt at bringing him out of the induced coma resulted in seizures.

“The statistics and the doctors ‘doom and gloom’ told the family what to expect,” Mike explained in a somber voice.

This left them with a difficult choice, should they continue with life support? The ventilator was going to be disconnected, but then Mike began to respond.

“The first thing I remember was, my son was reading scripture on the side of my bed, and he was saying ‘was I ready to go be with God’ and I shook my head!”

Mike started to revive and was able to follow commands, turning his head to face the speaker. He kept breathing on his own, no more seizures and eventually he began talking.

“I’m not even supposed to be speaking! The fact that I’m at work, being productive, and fairly competent. There’s little memory lapses, and for while my right foot was very sensitive, it would pull out from under me and I’d go down,” Mike said. He also suffers from myoclonus*, and attributes this remarkable survival story to the quick action of Loris and the Arctic Sun equipment in the hospital.

“We found out that less than 20% of hospitals have this device [for hypothermic treatment] and we thought if we can get some funds raised, we could start placing them—slowly but surely everybody can have one!” Mike said with pride. He created a website to start the campaign.

“I came back from the dead, and there is life after death!” Mike joked.

-Jeremy Whitehead

*Myoclonus is a brief, involuntary twitching of a muscle or a group of muscles, and can be a sign of a number of neurological disorders. Hiccups are also a kind of myoclonic jerk specifically affecting the diaphragm, as are "sleep starts" that some people experience while drifting off to sleep.