Craig is an avid mountain biker. He just couldn’t resist the beautiful August afternoon at the start of a four day weekend. He’d just completed a lap of the 7 mile trail near his home town of Indianapolis, when the day turned sour. Craig remembers being passed by a father and son and when he reached the picnic area the three of them shared a table to recover from their exertions. Craig began to feel sweaty and light headed–but not from the trail–he collapsed in front of them and his “lips turned blue”.
Luckily the father knew CPR and 9-1-1 was called. The ambulance arrived in minutes and shocked Craig a number of times. Craig, of course, was totally oblivious to all this activity. He had suffered a cardiac arrest and was unconscious. In fact he didn’t awake until nearly two weeks later!
“I don’t know a whole lot about therapeutic hypothermia, but what I’ve learned since is that it’s a three day process. For whatever reason they couldn’t bring me [out] and get me off the ventilator. I ended up being [in ICU] for 10 days,” Craig said.
He also had pneumonia, and was starting to turn yellow from jaundice–sparking fears of a liver shutdown.
“It was really tough on my family. Because they just didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.
Waking up in hospital was a shock, and he feared it had something to do with cancer. “I was told it was my heart and was kinda relieved,” Craig mentioned that several family members had been lost to cancer.
“They told me it was my heart, and I thought ‘Wow, they can fix that!’,” He said with evident relief.
“My surgeon really wanted me to go home, but the cardiologist wanted me to go to surgery right away,” Craig explained. He was told he needed a serious operation. They had to crack open his chest and replace the blocked arteries in his heart. But he was too weak from the time in ICU. Without the bypass surgery he could have a heart attack or even another cardiac arrest.
“Eventually my surgeon won out and I went home to stay with my mother.”
Eating and “not doing much” for a week brought his strength back, and he returned to hospital in early September.
“I ended up having a quintuple bypass,” Craig said quietly. “I was in for three and half days, and got released after the open heart.” Craig then said with enthusiasm, “I was back on my bike and out riding again within six weeks.”
Craig had always been a keen sportsman, and at 6’1” 195lbs, he was feeling the most fit and healthy that year–certainly not a candidate for heart disease. Joining the “zipper club” was not on his agenda. Luckily, they didn’t use staples and the scar down his sternum is hardly noticeable. He aims to get right back to that level of fitness again.
“It’s been a really great recovery!”