Save Date: 3/13/1996
Activity: At work
March 13, 1996, began unremarkably. As a physician, Wednesdays were my late evenings to work so I started the day a little later. I began with a three-mile run, continuing my exercise plan that I was so proud of. Arriving at the office that morning I immediately began seeing patients. All went smoothly. Having finished the "medical" portion of my last patient of the morning, I was just having idle conversation.
From what I gather, during my conversation with the child's mother I "blacked out". My office staff called for assistance. CPR was begun while the EMTs were called. When they arrived, they found me unresponsive and in ventricular fibrillation. Realizing the situation, the EMTs immediately shocked my heart back into its normal rhythm. Once medically stable, I was transported to the nearby hospital to sort out what happened. There were many questions asked trying to determine the cause of the episode. After several days of tests, my family was told that I had suffered from "Sudden Cardiac Death Syndrome" and it was determined that an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) would be implanted. With this, we could rest comfortably knowing that if my heart did return to an unstable rhythm, I would receive an electrical shock to reestablish a normal heartbeat.
What did I learn from this experience? I had always appreciated health, family and friends; I had always appreciated every day of my life. Now I understand something that many people never understand...Life is very fragile. We hang in this world by a thin string. The fact that there is so much in life that can go wrong, so much that can easily snatch life away from us is easily forgotten. Each day, I try to appreciate this fine balance. How suddenly life can change. How important it is to appreciate all that we have. Living life to its fullest, never taking anything for granted is the essence of living, what it means to live life. I know I had a second chance.