Save Date: February 13, 2008
Six weeks before my 16th birthday, I got out of bed on an average school day, and after taking a shower, my dad informed me that school had been cancelled due to a thick layer of ice that had fallen during the night. I was already wide awake, and usually can't fall back asleep after getting up, but that day I decided to go back to bed. The last thing I remember is laying down on my bed. At that moment I went into cardiac arrest.
My dad was in his room just down the hall, and being an experienced emergency room doctor, instantly recognized that I was making the wheezing noises of a person going into an arrest. He ran into my room and started performing intense CPR while calling my 13-year-old sister to bring him a phone. She did, and he got the emergency squad on their way, all of whom he knew personally from his years of working at the hospital. He continued the CPR until the squad could arrive with the defibrillator. However, it was taking them much longer than it should have, so he had my sister call back to ask what was happening. She was informed that the ambulance couldn't make it up the hill that leads to our house because of the road conditions. My dad just continued with the CPR and prayed, and eventually the squad made it through with a rescue truck.
Paramedics jumped into the back with their equipment and arrived at the house. After somewhere between 10-15 minutes, it took one shock at 200 joules to restart my heart. I remember waking up and wondering why so many people were touching me, and then ripping off my oxygen mask. After that I was decently aware of what was going on, and figured out that something had gone severely wrong.
It was decided that I would be flown directly to Akron Children's Hospital, where my cardiologist was waiting for me. I had first met Dr. Clark five months before when it was first discovered I had rhythm troubles after I nearly passed out at a basketball practice. After a five day stay, the decision was made that I all I had was a virus that had settled in my heart. Now my family has finally learned that I have a genetic condition known as ARVD that was passed down to me from my mom.
When arriving at Children's in February, the only choice I had was to get an ICD implanted into my chest, and that was done the day after my arrest. I think the crowning moment of my journey was when a doctor from a completely different part of the hospital walked into my room and told me, "We don't get to see miracles every day."
Previously a cross country runner and basketball and baseball player, I am now limited in my activities, but I have realized that some things are more important than sports. I am actually now looking into a career in medicine, so maybe I can perform some miracles of my own. Back at my school and community the support has been great, and now that I have this safety net inside me at all times, I feel just like any other kid.