Save Date: September 5, 2007
Activity: Attending a meeting
I was the Special Events Manager at Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Indiana. I was gearing up for the most important and exciting event of the year. At this point in my life, I am 26 year old - trying to find my way professionally and lead a balanced healthy lifestyle - having fun, working hard, running half-marathons and never thinking that my life would be changed by sudden cardiac arrest. There was not a family history of heart problems, and I have never had any symptoms.
On September 5, 2007, while at a manager meeting the morning of the big event, I collapsed in my chair. There was no warning. Someone had just told a joke and my co-workers thought I was laughing, but then quickly realized something was wrong. Without delay my coworkers began CPR and called 911. My team of heroes worked together to keep me going until relief came. A former employee and police officer, Ryan Miller, heard the call and beat the paramedics to the scene and took over CPR. After 15 minutes of CPR, paramedics showed up with the AED.
The ER crew and nurses at Bloomington Hospital worked on me, intubated me, and repleted my electrolytes. My family was hoping for me to make some purposeful movements so they would know that there was hope for recovery. I have been told that my destiny was bleak.
They noticed I had a prolonged QT, which is an arrhythmia disorder that can cause a dangerously fast heart rate, v-fib and can be onset by stress or exercise. After that first painful day of uncertainty, I woke up. And the real journey began. The body and brain is an incredible machine, and the only reason that I was able to recover the way I did, was because of the quick CPR response and the AED that came with the paramedics. Fifteen minutes seems like a long time to be down, but my coworkers and Ryan Miller never gave up! I do not have any recollection of this time, but I quickly regained my ability to count and recall current events. The first thing I remember is waking up with an ICD 6 days later.
So I survived and life goes on...but differently. My family and friends rallied to my side to help me recover. And my employer, Oliver Winery got an AED and all of their managers are CPR and AED certified. I recently married my boyfriend that stood by my side the entire time. Living with Long QT can be a challenge, but in the grand scheme of things...it's not too bad. I take my medicine, watch my stress levels and make sure I get enough rest and eat well. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of life so sometimes you just need to take a breath and slow down.
I started running again and have my first half marathon since my SCA in May. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about how blessed I am and how lucky I am to have so many great heroes in my life. I get to have another chance and I know there is a reason. I've joined the Indy Chapter of SCAA so that I can help raise awareness for Long QT and Sudden Cardiac Arrest and the importance of CPR training. We also need to make AEDs more accessible. We've got a lot of work to do!