Save Date: 4/24/2002
Activity: At health club
The most recent significant day in my life occurred on April 24, 2002, in mid-afternoon. My exercise routine had been to play handball on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday afternoons, Friday evening and Sunday mornings.
On April 24, mid-afternoon, we had played one game (cut throat handball: only three players). I walked off the court, had a drink of water and returned to the court. Our fourth player had not arrived for doubles. We were into the second game when BINGO! I was down and out, not breathing, with no pulse, my body turning lavender-blue.
Someone yelled to call 9-1-1. Personal trainers came out thinking someone was down with a blown knee or ankle. Personal Trainer, Jim Franklin, rushed up, saw my status, raced to get the defibrillator and raced back. Jim turned on the AED (automated external defibrillator) and followed the instructions. The AED delivered a shock and BINGO--I bounced off the floor and was breathing!
The firefighters arrived before the paramedics and asked where the body was, not realizing the "body" was breathing and had a pulse.
The paramedics arrived, checked me out and informed Jim that he had done a hell of a job. I was hooked up to oxygen and taken to the Rose Hospital emergency department. The cardiac team worked to stabilize me. It was determined that I had not suffered a heart attack and therefore no real damage was done to the heart.
However, while in the initial phase of a balloon angioplasty, I apparently assisted the doctors. I removed the tube down my throat with the balloon attached before they could grab my arms. One doctor later advised me that it was much tougher to remove the balloon inflated rather than deflated. (This was quite an irritation to me!)
I was kept in the ICU (intensive care unit) and rehab for a week to let my heart get readjusted. A triple bypass was performed on May 2. An ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) was implanted on May 8th. I was recovering nicely but on May 10, I had no energy and was sent back to the ICU because of a couple of blood clots on the ankle and possibly some at the lower edge of the lungs. It was May 18 before I was released from Rose Hospital for the trip home.
Everything has been great since that date. I have completed the rehab routine, I'm on a no-salt diet and I feel great. I've returned to my normal weekly routine, taking a daily morning walk and playing handball.
On April 24, mid-afternoon my chances to enjoy my birthday in June were down to two--"Slim" and "None." My family and I are very thankful and blessed that "Slim" was the winner. It's great to be alive!
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