October 25, 2015 was a beautiful sunny day and a great day to work in the yard. At approximately 2:30pm that Sunday afternoon I returned from picking up some gasoline, filled up the lawn mower and off I went ...
As I made one pass across my front yard, I immediately stopped and felt a very strange pain in my upper left shoulder area - approximately 5 inches from my left breast area upwards to my left shoulder.
I stood there a few seconds and the pain increased. I left the mower sitting in the yard since I didn't feel that I could push the mower back into the garage. A strange feeling began to overcome me, and I asked myself, "What is going on?"
I walked into my house and to the kitchen, where began pacing a bit. I drank some Sprite and took a couple Tums, hoping for some instant relief. No relief came and after a few minutes I began talking to myself; debating, thinking, arguing, whether to pick up that phone and dial... 911.
I felt I needed to make this call since I was home alone with no help, and no one outside that could have rendered me assistance. The 911 Operator asked, "What is your emergency?" and I stated I might be having a heart attack. The Operator said to unlock the front door and that emergency personnel were in transit to my home.
I began to hear sirens in the distance as they approached. As I waited, I made some of the most difficult phone calls of my life ... to my Son, Daughter, and Wife ... and left messages on their cell phones. I left similar messages for each of them, "This is Dad and I believe I am having a heart attack. The Emergency personnel are coming. Please take care of one another. I Love You."
I was waiting for them at the front door. I was very anxious, but relieved to see them, and felt that I was in great hands! I sat down on the stairs as one Paramedic started an IV in my right hand and a Firefighter had me chew an aspirin.
After a few minutes of vitals, I said that I could get onto the stretcher, which was located at the bottom step of my porch, without assistance. Paramedics escorted me down the sidewalk and into the ambulance. This was the very last thing I remembered .... until the following happened.
I distinctly remember waking up to a female paramedic looking down at me yelling, "Stay with me! Come on, stay with me!", while I felt a very heavy pressure pushing on my-chest - making it almost impossible to breathe. I somehow managed to say, "Please stop that!"
I knew I was in extreme duress during these chest compressions ... that I was dying.
Paramedics informed my family that they had lost me 7 times in the ambulance, and another 3 times in the Emergency Room, even with the great team of medical personnel that were working on saving my life. During electric shock, I was told I had opened my eyes several times!
The diagnosis was a 99% blocked L.A.D. (Lateral Anterior Descending) heart artery which is nicknamed the Widow maker. This specific heart attack has a very low survival rate but with modern equipment and CPR methods of continuous chest compressions, there is more hope!
My family and I were told that another 5-10 minutes and I would have died.
A Stress Test may not have detected this - or it became blocked after the test. Either way, the Cardiologist advised there is much they can do, but you have to get to a hospital. This brings us to the main point of this brochure, My Personal Story, which is to increase overall public awareness and help save lives!
After a stent was placed via the L.A.D., and a brief stay in the Intensive Care Unit, I was monitored a few days in the hospital. There was a time between the ER and ICU where I was in a Paralytic state. I felt a tube on the right side of my mouth -pressing painfully on my gum where I just had a tooth removed. I heard a male and female voice, but I could not move, open my eyes, or speak. I did not like this whatsoever and I eventually woke up that evening in the ICU, surrounded by my family.
Post Event Situations, Treatments, and Physical/Mental Issues:
Upon arriving home one week later, two angels arrived at my front door! The two Paramedics that saved my life stopped by to check on me. These angels met my family that fateful night and stayed with them for quite some time while I was being treated. They gave such wonderful support to my family. God Bless them always.
The biggest life change is that I stopped smoking cold turkey, no patches or pills. Trust me, after this situation, the last thing you want to do is put these chemicals back into your body and heart.
Pill regimen includes (3) blood thinners - aspirin, Plavix, Warfarin, Lipitor, and various medications. Regular finger sticks at the local Anticoagulation Clinic for INR monitoring. Nice people!
From physical stand point, all my broken chest cartilage healed nicely. From time to time I experience a spasm like feeling in and around my heart, but it resolves itself.
Walk. Walk. Walk! Seek out a great Cardiac Wellness Program. I experienced some PTSD symptoms with turning off lights at night to go to sleep. It was very worrisome to me, so I slept with the TV on, which somewhat helped. I was nervous being alone at times, since I was home alone the day it happened. These things are getting better since I have been able to get out and give some brief talks to groups of people, Emergency Personnel, etc. and bring my experience forward to hopefully help people as a therapeutic means.
I am also an accomplished Recording Artist/Musician. My music is my true escape and therapy - songwriting, performing, playing, and singing.
In closing, LIFE is fantastic and more so than ever before. We are taught to live and then die ... not live, die, live. There are certainly lifestyle adjustments I had to make but nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than enjoying every single second, minute, and hour of each God given day. Cherish and embrace life and thank God every single day!
I sincerely hope this information provides some guidance, inspiration, and hope when tragedy strikes. Personalized Engraved Plaques were designed and made for the two young ladies (Angels) that saved my life. My daughter wrote the beautiful words that were engraved on these Awards of Thanks that were presented to them at their respective County Fire/Ambulance District Council Meetings in February 2016. I also attended a Survivors Banquet in November 2016 to share my story.
A special thank you to family, friends, and co-workers for your amazing support and staying by me through everything. God Bless the Physicians, Specialists, Nurses, Emergency Responders, and all support staff. You're Amazing! It is because of you that I am able to say that in 2016 I saw my son and daughter-in-law get married and my daughter and son-in-law gave birth to our first little grandson. LIFE IS GOOD.