My heart stopped on 9/20/17 while walking alone on the James F. Hall Trail... exactly 2 months after being diagnosed with cancer.
Writing these words, thinking them, saying them is bizarre… that’s the only way I can describe it. I guess it’s bizarre because I haven’t fully processed what happened.
“You nearly died” is what my oncologist said to me. My reaction? I giggled. To me, this interaction verifies that I haven’t fully processed what happened. Though, as I write this, my throat is growing a lump, my eyes are getting hot with tears and my chest is heavy. Maybe writing this post will be the therapy I need to process and cope.
I don’t remember anything from the day it happened. Once more, my memory from the weeks, and even months, leading up to the cardiac arrest is very foggy. What I’m writing for this post is coming together based on the tellings of others… thank you so much to everyone who’s put up with my shit memory since the incident and told me these details over and over again.
There were four things that occurred on 9/20 that were down right freaky and have me convinced I was being looked after. The first odd thing was the fact that I decided to go for a walk on the James F. Hall Trail behind CDS after work that day. I know most wouldn’t justify this as freaky – but it was to me because I never have, and never do, walk after work. Everyone in the hospital had to explain this to me a hundred times because I just didn’t believe it. I never go for a walk after work. I always walk during lunch. Always.
Nonetheless, thank god I did go for a walk because if I didn’t? I may have been driving when my heart stopped…
Shocking to me, an explanation for my after work walk arose… But before I get into that, I need to give you a bit of a back story. In the middle of July, I started organizing lunch time yoga with coworkers because it started getting too hot to walk during lunch. The group got really into it and we’ve been scheduling a few sessions every week since then. Telling you this is important to the story because on the day of my cardiac arrest, I had a bunch of meetings and was unable to take a lunch break. So, I had emailed the yogi group and asked if anyone wanted to do yoga after work (which we had never done before, so it was a shot in the dark). Turned out, no one could make it. This was another blessing that came about because who knows if any of my fellow yogis know CPR?! And even if they do, what a traumatic experience that would have been for all of us! I am truly grateful that no one I know and love was there to see me go down. Furthermore, as Niki pointed out, I also need to be grateful I did not decide to practice by myself instead of going for a walk! Oy vey.
The third freaky thing that happened was a phone call I received while being resuscitated. The phone call was from my middle school band teacher, Brent Thorpe. Before Mr. Thorpe was my teacher, he taught my brother and sister. He’s been a big part of our family for something like 17 years. Him and I developed a particularly special bond – he has been my mentor throughout all these years. I’ve always been able to call upon him (even if we haven’t talked for months) when I need advice, or to vent, or just to laugh. He always seems to make an appearance just when I need him… and this day was no different. The way Mr. Thorpe explains it, he had a sudden urge to call me out of nowhere. He can’t explain it, he just knew something was up and when the EMTs answered the phone, Mr. Thorpe was able to give them information about me when I was alone and had no ID on me. Another blessing… if Mr. Thorpe hadn’t called and my mom hadn’t shown up [perfect lead into the fourth freakiest event of the day!], we have no idea how long it would have been before I was ID’d and my family was notified.
Going back to my mom’s appearance at the trail, we get into the most mind-blowing occurrence of the day.
The day of my cardiac arrest, my mom was babysitting my nephew and had planned to take him to the James F. Hall Trail midday. My mom has never gone to this trail before, but I had talked to her about how nice it is and how it has little playgrounds along the walk so she figured it’d be a good place to take the baby. However, little Anth had different plans… he peed the bed during his nap so my mom spent the day cleaning sheets. When my brother picked up the baby that evening, my mom says she went into auto pilot – got changed, put on her sneakers and decided to go to the trail by herself. She noticed my car in the parking lot but assumed I was working late. She wasn’t far into the trail before she came across the scene... she recognized my leggings and was able to jump in the ambulance with me.
So there you have it: undeniable proof that I was being watched over that day. It just wasn’t my time yet... despite what my heart thought.
Who knows why this happened? My docs surely don’t. My oncologist is absolutely baffled – says he’s talked to every colleague he could find (including one that’s been practicing for 40 years) and no one has ever heard of something like this happening before. All of the tests that were run after the cardiac arrest came back perfect. No indication of why my heart failed, which is kind of frustrating.
The good news is, I got a defibrillator placed so I’m basically like the terminator now… pretty badass. Andy really wants me to get a 1-Up mushroom tattooed on it… I kinda want to too.
Sucky parts are: I can’t drive for 6 months, I can’t exercise and my chemo has been changed to a less aggressive regime as a precaution.
I’m going for a CT scan on 10/20. This will show how my
tumors have been responding to chemo and give us an idea of when I’ll be ready for surgery. I’ll keep you all posted!
Thanks for reading <3
I FOUND THE MAN THAT SAVED MY LIFE BY GIVING ME CPR!!!!!!!
I will DEFINITELY be writing a blog post about our meeting. Stay tuned!