This Randonnée Is Not Finished

This Randonnée Is Not Finished

Todd Black, Seattle, WA – 56 at time of event (2008)

Todd is an avid Randonneur, that is he likes to get on his bicycle and leave town for an extended trip. This is called a Randonnée, which is a French word that means excursion or long journey. Randonneurs do not compete exactly, they think of it as more a test of endurance, self-sufficiency and developing their bicycle touring skills. Just the pronunciation is difficult enough, let alone cycling over several hundred miles in a specified time period!

One Sunday morning last month, Marty, Todd’s wife, got a phone call to say he had fallen off his bike. She put her head down on her desk and cried. This was the second time she had received a call from the paramedics. That first time it had been nearly midnight in Spring, and she learned that, although Todd hadn’t broken any bones, he had suffered some serious damage. This time she expected something bad had happened, but not this bad.

They were cycling up a hill, Todd had to stand up on the pedals to keep up the pace. He felt a little dizzy, so he sat back on the seat and promptly crashed to the ground.
“The next thing I knew I was on the ground, tangled up in the bike, and I was embarrassed.” Todd said. “I said to myself ‘How the heck did I fall?’ and then I blanked out.”
The other riders thought he would get up. But he didn’t. They thought he may have hit his head. They saw he wasn’t breathing properly. Then they knew it was serious. He didn’t have a pulse. He’d “suddenly died”, and would have if not for the hero of this story.
Vincent, one of the riders who’d just passed Todd, is a plastic surgeon and he immediately started CPR. Someone else called 9-1-1. Within minutes a fire truck arrived with a defibrillator. One zap and Todd’s heart started beating again. The electric shock caused him some aggravation and he attempted to fight them off. He was not conscious, it was just a primal reaction. The fire crew didn’t mind, it happens all the time.

The ambulance came, he was put inside and they shut the doors. But, it didn’t take off. For twenty minutes or so they worked on him, putting in IVs and intubating him. Then, when he was stable, they took him to Harborview Medical Center, where Marty saw him wake up.
“People were talking to me, and things were going on, I thought I was dreaming. I said to myself ‘What’s happening here?’” Then Todd realized he couldn’t speak, and that it was not a dream — it felt more like a nightmare.
He had a tube down his throat to help him breath, and so they communicated by lettering on her hand. This was a good sign, and within hours he had the endotracheal tube removed, and he was able to talk.

Following an echocardiogram, heart catheterization, cardiac mri, and an icd (implanted cardioverter defibrillator), plus a cardiac stress test, all within 12 days, Todd was released.
“All heart tests were negative. I'd been on propafenone for the past several years for atrial fibrillation, and atenolol before that for six or seven years. But no problems with ventricular fibrillation before.” Todd said matter-of-factly. He had had AF for over 20 years without any incidents or complications. Till that day in November.

Todd hopes he can get back on the bike, and go skiing at Christmas. Soon, he will be visiting his cardiologist for the first checkup. Todd hopes he’ll be given the all clear. Marty is not so sure...

-Jeremy Whitehead

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