And now, I’m going to slink back to my little area “backstage”. But first, everyone reading this, please consider becoming CPR certified!!
I’ve always been a backstage kind of person; I prefer directing, stage managing, writing. I have performed onstage, and although, I enjoyed my experience, I soon realized I really rather be behind the scenes, and then one day two years ago, I performed some impromptu “dying” on the world stage. The “actors”, I have no doubt, wouldn’t for a moment consider themselves heroes. But what is a hero? In the television series Smallville, Clark Kent says, "The suit doesn't make the hero. A hero's made in the moment by the choices that he makes and the reasons that he makes them. A hero brings out the best in people." I just didn’t know what more to say to my heroes who were willing, ready, and able to help a stranger in distress. It’s not like Hallmark makes “thanks for saving my life” cards. (Trust me, I have looked). Nonetheless, thank you – Jesse, Pete, Mary and the rest of the Point Bonita YMCA staff, and thanks Ranger Eddy and Ranger Gibbs and the Golden Gate National Recreational Park Area for keeping me around a bit longer and not letting that morning be my final curtain call. You truly are MY heroes.
And now, I’m going to slink back to my little area “backstage”. But first, everyone reading this, please consider becoming CPR certified!!
It's funny how the mind works. I could give specific details of things I did on this day twenty-one years ago, but couldn't tell you what I had for dinner last night. . . which was, ummm, yes, now I remember. . . lasagna.
Twenty-one years ago, the evening before, Ed, myself, and our ten month old son, Michael, strolled down the aisles of Safeway putting baby formula and a stacking ring toy into our cart, then later that evening after dinner and putting Michael in his crib for the night, Ed and I went to bed. I don't remember anything else until I woke in the University of Washington Medical Center a few days later dazed and confused. Picking up a phone on a nightstand, I dialed home, and told Ed, "I'm having an out of body experience." I glanced around the room once more. "I am here at the hospital and I don't remember how I got here."
I continued to struggle with short term memory loss for several days. The doctors assured Ed and my parents that it was perfectly normal as I repeated questions I had already asked. Nonetheless, I would not be here today if Ed had not realized that during the early morning hours on November 16, I had stopped breathing and had gone into sudden cardiac arrest. He called 9-1-1 and quickly began CPR before Seattle EMT's arrived to our little house in south Seattle. Paramedics were able to revive me and transported me to Harborview before being transferred to University of Washington Medical Center. Again, I can not stress enough of the importance of CPR training.
And Ed. . . well, he is now and forever will be my guardian angel and that I will never forget.
I give this video a cheese factor of ten, but it's catchy and easy to remember and, hey who doesn't like to see firefighters dancing? The disco balls hanging from the ladder trucks kills me! Stayin' Alive recorded by the Bee Gees (1977).
"Wow. I guess disco really saves lives."
While doing some research on the Internet the other day, I came across this superb illustration set out by the American Heart Association on what is an Automated External Defibrillator and thought I would share. Click on the link for more details.
Proud of my two younger sons. . . yesterday, they were willing to give up their Saturday by attending an adult CPR/AED class taught by Medic One. We decided to make it a family affair and all four of us attended the training. Extremely proud of Joey, who struggles with ADD, he make a concentrated effort to actually listen, learn, participate, and become certified. Thank you, Medic One and Thurston County for offering free CPR/AED classes to citizens of the community.
I remember a particular visit I had with my cardiologist several years ago. It was one of the many times he suggested an implantable defibrillator and I was stubborn and didn't want to listen. Too many bad experiences with the first device I had implanted and I just didn't want to go through it again. He said he understood but also told me he didn't want to see some catastrophic event happen to me and be the subject of the local news. Well, thanks, Dr. Kundenchuk for that self-fulling proficiency.
Even though I was not interviewed in Seattle, I was in San Francisco. Nerves of steel, I was not, as a news reporter asked me questions about the events surrounding my cardiac arrest and how important I thought it was for by-standers to be first responders. He then asked, "How has this changed you?" Goodness. I don't know. I still sweat the small stuff. I still have a short fuse. I still am me.
Did he mean - do I believe in second chances? Or third chances as the case may be? Sure. I know Heavenly Father is not ready for me yet, but what my divine purpose in life is. . . I just don't know. I do know, I need to go out and discover it for myself. Maybe, it making people aware of sudden cardiac arrest or getting automatic external defibrillators out there. . . everywhere. And not only do I want to see AED's everyone, I want to make sure there are people properly trained how to use them and they are just not wall decorations. Maybe getting more people to think about being CPR certified. I would like to see a higher success then 8 to 12% survival rate for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. There is a plan. There is a purpose. There is a time for everything. . . A time to be born and a time to die. . .
Or to borrow a scene from the movie Footloose, Ren said; "Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh. . . a time to weep. A time to mourn. . . and there is a time to dance. . . It's the way it was in the beginning. It's the way it's always been. It's the way it should be now."
On Monday, I was honored to award the two Point Bonita YMCA employees who saved my life back in June with the American Heart Association HeartSaver Hero award. I was so happy to finally meet them and they were just beyond thrilled to see me. . . alive. My good friend, Mary, had the perfect word to describe the whole affair. . . surreal. Oh my goodness, was it ever surreal. Here everyone from the YMCA staff to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Park Rangers who assisted in saving my life talking about events of that day and I knew they were talking about me, but it didn't feel like it was me. Like I was there, but I wasn't there. If that makes any sense.
I have to admit, I was super nervous about getting up there and reliving my story, especially since much of it I do not remember. It was a good and well attended event and it was a huge honor to present these men with their awards. Then following the presentation, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association asked if I would repeat my tale in Seattle - date and time to be determined. Egads!
I am so thankful to still be here, and incredibly grateful to Ed, who recognized the signs of me going into cardiac arrest. Then to Pete and Jesse who stepped up and did what they had to do to keep me alive. They did not know me, but that did not matter to them. I feel I will have a special bond with them for the rest of my life. They truly are my #YHeroes. Then to the rest of the YMCA staff who assisted in many ways and made Ed and I feel at home, and to Mary Perkins, who reached out to us, letting us know about this event. Again, just so glad I was able to witness the recognition they so rightfully deserved. Also incredibly thankful to the Ranger Eddy and Ranger Gibbs who also performed CPR on me and got me breathing on my own even before paramedics arrived. And of course, to Marin County Fire Department and Southern Marin County Fire Department and the doctors and staff at Marin County Hospital.
Not very many people can say they have survived a cardiac arrest and without the quick action of Pete and Jesse, I would have never survived my second attack. Thanks for being there guys! And I can't stress enough those who are reading this, if you have not learned CPR, do it! Seconds really do count.
Interview on channel 7 (ABC) - San Francisco: Cardiac Arrest Victims Thank Rescuers For Saving Them With CPR
I am glad I was finally able to take an epic trip with Ed to San Francisco (Take Two) - after our last failed adventure. Had a great time riding the cable car, driving down Lombard Street, and walking along Fisherman's Wharf. The weather was perfect the whole time we were there. Thanks to my friends Cheryl and Jerry who gave us a place to stay. We stayed up super late the first night, just laughing and talking. Wish it had been a longer visit and hope to see you guys again soon.
Also am grateful and ecstatic I got a chance to meet the YMCA gentlemen (Pete and Jesse) who saved my life back in June and present them with the American Heart Association HeartSaver Hero plaques. They truly are MY HEROES. Happy we finally had the chance to hike down to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. The hike was a little harder and longer then what I thought, but was so thrilled to say, we finally did it! Thanks so much to the Point Bonita YMCA staff who made us feel welcomed.
In addition, I was pleased to meet Ray Hanvey. The two of us decided we belong to an exclusive club. He is alive today also because of quick acting YMCA staff members having performed CPR and the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). I felt very humbled in his presence - as the employees at the Stonestown YMCA are truly his family.
Ed said it best as we pulled into the garage last night - this weekend gave us a change to beat California. We no longer afraid of her.
October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Awareness Month. More than 350,000 deaths are attributed to SCA every year in the United States and the survival rate is less than 10% unless CPR and defibrillation are utilized quickly by bystanders. I am a firm believer in everyone learning CPR, especially since the method of performing CPR has changed to a "Hands Only" approach. I also believe automated external defibrillators (AED) should not only be everywhere (high schools, libraries, churches, restaurants, etc.), and people should be properly trained on how to use them. When a person is going into sudden cardiac arrest seconds really do count. It can happen at anytime and to anyone and with a little training anyone can be hero.
I know a few of my friends think what happened to me back in June was a heart attack and that is furthest from the truth. It's fundamentally different. I like the "Apples to Oranges" campaign the Heart Rhythm Society is promoting by providing education and information to the general public.
My cardiologist explained it to my husband and I as a short circuit or when the electricity is suddenly turned off. In SCA, the heart simply stops beating. It's as if someone pulls the main breaker on your house to the off position - the power flow would be quickly disrupted, and all power to your house would be lost. The results are instantaneous from the moment the breaker is pulled. Sudden cardiac arrest functions in much the same way. The switch is moved to the off position and the heart malfunctions, loses power, and immediately stops. The person loses consciousness, as blood no longer makes it to the brain, and they stop breathing.
The heart will need to be restarted, which like using jumper cables to restart a dead battery on a car, an AED, shocks the heart back into hopefully a not so dangerous rhythm. On a side note, one thing I learned this past Monday, after meeting my rescuers, according to the final report from the AED device that was used on me, I had been shocked six times!! No wonder my chest hurt. Of course, it also dd not help, that a couple of my ribs were cracked while doing compressions on me. For those who are apprehensive about breaking ribs, at least victims can recover from a broken rib, and I have been told a time or two, that if ribs are cracking, not enough pressure is being used. By the way, Pete and Jesse, I forgive you.
“What symptoms were you experiencing?” asked the nurse. I looked over at Ed, and he glanced up at me, and we both sighed.
It was supposed to be a vacation of a lifetime. Ed had just turned 50 a few days prior and we were about to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. We had decided to go on an extended camping trip without the kids, just the two of us and visit family, friends, and a couple of national parks, including the Grand Canyon, which had been on my bucket list for a long time, with a quick stop in Las Vegas. On Sunday, we left Portland and drove all the way to Napa, California to visit my Uncle John and Aunt Gail. That night we had steak, baked potatoes, and salad, and caught up on family news and events. The following morning, we packed up the car with our suitcase and pillows, and headed for San Francisco. I was really looking forward to visiting the city on the Bay, as Ed had never been to San Francisco, and I had not been back since my grandmother passed away several years prior.
We left Napa and drove to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. It was a beautiful sunny California day. The weather was gorgeous, with early morning fog lifting off the water, surrounding the bridge and we could just make out the towers and car deck. We stopped at the first view point and took pictures and then a quick hike around the old military batteries, followed by another stop at a second view point. We had then decided to take a short hike to the Point Bonita Lighthouse and we pulled into the parking lot. . . that is the last thing I remember.
"Hey. . . it's me."
I live in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains, in the State of Washington and I love camping, boating, hiking, and hanging out with my husband, our three boys, and two Bernese Mountain dogs.