It was a hot April afternoon. Tawnya wanted to go for a run — she likes to train for the half marathon — however Billy, her husband, convinced her to do some X-Fit instead. So there they were, the two young daughters on their scooters, Billy and Tawyna on the driveway flipping tractor tires.
"I don't feel good, Billy," Tawnya said and collapsed into his arms. Billy is the fire battalion chief, so he knew what to do. Paige, the nine-year-old daughter, was commanded to get the phone, while he began CPR. It's one thing to do it on the job, but another thing if it's your spouse. Even more disturbing, he knew the paramedic as well. But we're getting ahead of things.
Paige, understandably distressed, couldn't find the cordless phone in the house. Eventually she brought it out to Billy on the driveway and he called 9-1-1.
It took about 10 minutes for EMS to arrive and they started work on getting some pulmonary drugs started, using IVs into both shins*. This protocol was followed because she has a long history with asthma and other pulmonary diseases. Eventually the AED was deployed, it detected V-Fib and after two shocks a pulse was attained. However, Tawnya had been clinically dead for 20 minutes.
"The ER doctor gave me a one percent chance of surviving that long," Tawnya said in precise terms. She knew this to be an accurate statement because her day job is cardiac nursing!
The neighbors took the girls home with them while Billy and the paramedics took off for the hospital. Amazingly, Tawyna was talking when Billy arrived in the emergency department, but a little incoherently. She has no recollection of any of this, of course. The girls did come to visit and brought colorful drawings for her room, where they got the chance to learn what happened and see that Mommy was okay. After nearly a week in the hospital, she went home with "little billy", the ICD implanted into her chest.
"It makes me a totally different nurse, because I can [now see] why they [patients] get so scared," Tawnya explained. "There is so much I want to do now, to help people to survive."
With no diagnosis of the cause, Tawnya is scheduled for some advanced tests at the Mayo Clinic.
*Intraosseous infusion - injecting directly into the marrow of a bone to provide a non-collapsible entry point into the systemic venous system. Life-threatening traumas often require immediate intravenous access for medications and fluid replacement, and this method overcomes the problem of collapsed veins due to shock.