Save Date: 5/2003
Activity: Playing softball
From an email sent from Timmy's brother to family and friends
In May of 2003, Timmy (19-yrs-old at the time) collapsed during one of our softball games. An ambulance was called and they immediately took him to the hospital. At the time, we thought he was dehydrated, so we thought nothing of it and played the rest of the game. Actually, things were a lot worse than we thought. On the way to the hospital, they had to give the "Paddles of Life," while he was awake to bring his heart back down to a normal beating rate. Before the paddles, his heart was beating to fast that it seemed to stop. He suffered from ventricular fibrillation (VF), where the top and the
bottom of the heart can get a rhythm and beat faster to catch up with the other half and it's just a violent cycle. His heart was beating at 425 beats per minute. (The normal rate is around 80-100 beats per minute.) From what he was suffering from that day, only 20 percent of victims live. Essentially, God kept him here that day.
My cousin in Colorado died of a mysterious heart disease when he was 20 back in 1998.
After looking at the data, they determined that he had something that resembled what Timmy had. After looking at this, they never officially narrowed it down as to what he had or what caused it, but it was determined that he probably had something called
Long QT syndrome. It's a genetic disease that appears in the late teens and it cannot be diagnosed easily. The only cure for such a disease is to take heart medicine, avoid participation in rigorous athletic activities (football, basketball) and implant a device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD. The ICD in Timmy's chest will jump start the heart if it goes into VF again. They say that of the 20 percent that survive the first attack, only 50 percent survive the second if they don't have an ICD, so he got the ICD. Because it's genetic, we all got tested and it was determined that Mark and I don't display signs of having it now, but I could also appear around the age of 40. Michael heart rate, on the other hand, was a little irregular but wasn't as severe as Timmy's. And after having my mom's whole side of the family tested for this, we found out that one of our cousins (19 yrs. old) might have the same thing Timmy does.
So everything was fine till five months later (October 6, 2003) when the ICD went off when he was playing basketball at college. I live close to where he goes to school and I picked him up to take him home. While he was waiting for me, it went off again. He said it's like a metal baseball bat hitting him in the chest as hard as it can and he blacks out. So we took him to the hospital and they said that it went off at the right times and that they had to change his medication. Things were quiet for the last year.....till Sunday (October 10, 2004). About 7 pm, Timmy and my parents were over my house and he was complaining about how he wasn't feeling well. He got up to go to the bathroom, came back into the living room, took off all his clothes to his underwear, started breathing heavy and said he couldn't slow his heart down. He was walking over to sit next to my mom and we heard a huge "THUMP!" like someone punching him in the chest. It was his ICD going off. It threw him back onto the couch and he had this immense look of pain in on his face. I ran out to his car and got his pills and my parents took him home that night. He said he was okay and wanted to go to the hospital in the morning. They checked him out in the morning and said that everything looked okay and that his electrolytes were low and white blood cell count was high, but other than that nothing else was wrong and they let him go home.
That Monday, I got a call from Joy on my way home from work around 6:30 pm. She told me that I needed to get home and we HAD to get to Lorain ASAP. She told me that my parent's neighbor called and told us that Timmy was in the hospital and it wasn't looking good. We rushed there and she told us this story that Timmy's ICD started going off at my parent's house around 5 pm and went off 20 times in the matter of an hour. She said that it was hitting him in the on the porch, on the grass in front yard and in the ambulance when they got there. She said he would close his eyes, take a deep breath, a thumping sound would come out of this body and his body would jerk. Then he would wake up and it would happen again between 3-5 minutes later.
They go him stabilized 20 minutes after he got to the hospital, and put him on some serious medication. Eventually he got transferred to a different hospital that night where his doctor came and reprogrammed his ICD to that it would pace his heart down instead of just letting it get up to around 400 beats per minute and go off. He was discharged from the hospital on that Thursday and was told he can go back to living his life like normal. His doctor said Timmy is a rare case that he lived through all this, and it seems like Timmy is his golden boy. It's tough for him now because he suffers from thoughts that it's going to go off again whenever it feels like it, he has to take medication that screws with his intestines and makes him tired and sleepy. He has gone back to school now and the teachers are very supportive of him. They are working with him to get him back on track, and he might be going to counseling to help him lose the stress of thinking it's going to go off. He's okay now and looking to get his life back on track and in the groove of things.
Lots of people were praying for him and still are. God kept him here for a reason. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Just wanted to let you guys know what was going on. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.