Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: cardiac arrest

Gratitude–and guilt

I was reading Ask A Manager and there’s a question about COVID, working from home, children, and more. The context was a letter writer who moved during the pandemic and now was unhappy as to be asked to go back to the office. The comment in question is from someone who had a stroke at the beginning of this year and can’t drive any more.

It got me thinking about my own stroke (which I rarely even think about unless I’m thinking about my medical trauma in general). I felt guilty reading this comment because, well, it should be obvious why. This person had a stroke and can never drive again. They can only type with one hand and they can’t work in an office again.

Me, on the other hand, was never forbidden to drive except for a few days after having my angiogram (and I was in the hospital, anyway). In fact, it was deeply funny to me (in a dark way) that while my parents were warring over my father’s ability to drive (very poor) and my mother’s ability to drive (problematic), the person most capable of driving was the one who had non-COVID-related walking pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke.

I have slight memory issues, but nothing to complain about. Plus, I have a workaround that isn’t difficult (writing things down) and I feel blessed that I can still type 100+ words a minute. My eyesight is back to where it was before the medical trauma (poor), no longer blurry. I had no rehab. None.

While I was in the hospital, I talked to the chaplain. I made it clear that I was not a believer, which did not faze him at all. I told him that I didn’t question why the medical trauma happened to me. I don’t take the best care of  myself and I have bronchial issues. I’m not special and exempt from bad things happening to me. I’ve never questioned that. But the fact that I came back without a scratch? That eats at me from time to time. Why the hell was I so lucky when others have suffered so much?

I should be dead. There is no way I should have survived what happened to me. When I Google similar situations, I  come up with nothing because there is just no parallel. When I tried to find a support group for people who had gone through what I had, I couldn’t find any. Not even any who had just survived cardiac arrests with no lasting effects.

I am called a walking/living/literal miracle every time I mention what happened to me. People who are in the medical biz just are amazed that I survived what happened to me, let alone thrived. People not in the medical field are floored when I tell them. I’m not bragging or even humble-bragging when I say that I am one of a kind. I have done hours of research and cannot find anything even close to what I went through.

I should be dead. I don’t think I can overstate that. I should not be here.

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Five month anniversary

A few hours after this post goes up, it’ll be the five-month anniversary of my medical trauma. That’s astonishing to me because I didn’t think I’d make it past the third month, but not for health reasons. Healthwise, I’m lucky that I haven’t taken any sustained damage. I have been checked out and given a clean bill of health. I have a little bit of short-term memory issues, but it’s no big deal. It only comes into play during my private lessons and my note-taking, which I need to improve. Other than that, I can watch a video of the same movement time and time again, which helps.

It’s almost been half a year. That’s mind-boggling to me. And I still can’t remember what happened during that fateful night itself, but I can talk about it because my brother and I have talked about it several times. I can tell people what happened as if I were there (well, I was, but you know what I mean), but it’s all because of what my brother has told me and from what I’ve read in the Caring Bridge journal. He wrote daily entries there, which I’ve read several times and have been invaluable to my understanding of what happened to me.

To recap once again, this is the story. Roughly around three at night/in the morning on September 2nd/3rd, I couldn’t breathe. I called 9-1-1 (which is not like me at all) and they told me to unlock the front door. I did before promptly passing out in my front hallway. The cops came and bagged me (oxygen) until the EMTs came along. Then, they took over. I had a cardiac arrest and the EMTs had to shock my heart so it would start pumping again. I had another cardiac arrest and they shocked it again. One of these times, they also jabbed me with an Epi pen. And I had a stroke as well. This was all in a 20-minute ambulance ride.

Here was where a lot of luck came into the picture. Remember, the pandemic was still raging at this time. Beds were at a premium. My brother had a friend who had a very similar experience a month earlier (pneumonia, couldn’t breathe, etc.). His wife rushed him to Regions Hospital and they didn’t have a bed so he was taken elsewhere. He had a cardiac arrest at some point and he died.

Regions has the best heart center in Minnesota. They do innovative techniques like lowering the patient’s body temperature to protect the innards (brain, lungs, heart, etc.). I was lucky to be accepted there. I was unconscious when I was admitted. My brother found me roughly fifteen hours after I collapsed, with a healthy assist from Ian. He and I Facebook message every day when I get up, which in those days was between ten a.m. and one p.m. When he didn’t hear from me ,he messaged my brother around seven p.m. his time (after messaging me and texting me from noon to six or seven or so).

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