“A nurse nearby caught my son as I fell to the floor.”

Heart Healthcare Story

Ironically, I remember feeling the best I had in a long time on the morning of that fateful day.

I received a phone call from my son’s school, alerting me my five-year-old son wasn’t feeling well. Little did I know how his illness would end up saving my life that very same day.

After taking my son home and calling the family doctor, I was instructed to take him immediately to hospital. Weakened by his illness, my son was unable to walk from the house to the car and into the hospital, so I carried him.

As I approached emergency at the hospital, I told the receptionist I felt like I was going to faint.

I then collapsed and went into sudden cardiac arrest. A nurse nearby caught my son as I fell to the floor.

My husband arrived to find my son was no longer the issue. He was escorted to the adult emergency where CPR was being administered on me.

I was initially treated for what was thought to be a seizure but later diagnosed as ventricular fibrillation and Prolonged QT Syndrome, coupled with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs).

After my condition stabilised, a cardiac catheterisation was performed which showed none of my arteries were blocked. I was then placed in a hypothermic coma for 24 hours to reduce swelling in my brain and prevent any potential brain damage from taking place.

On the day I was to be taken out of the coma – someone working on my case told my husband there could be many outcomes – from brain damage to death to not being able to breathe on my own.

After an unsuccessful attempt at removing my breathing tube, doctors placed me back in a coma. I was eventually able to be taken off the machines and began the 13-hour long defrosting process. To the relief of mu entire family, I awoke, was able to speak and had no signs of brain damage.

Yet my journey to recovery was not complete. I immersed myself in educational materials, finding out as much as I could about Prolonged QT Syndrome (LQTS). I was implanted with an ICD.

Two weeks later I was back in hospital only to learn the ICD needed adjusted, after going into ventricular fibrillation, passing out again and being shocked twice.

Two weeks after the ICD adjustments were made, I was back on the road to feeling well. But my journey remained unfinished.

I soon learned LQTS is either genetic or acquired, and since I have children, I needed to identify if the deadly condition could be passed on.

My family is currently undergoing genetic testing for LQTS.

– Dawn, 36

“Here’s to a healthier tomorrow.”

Heart Healthcare Story

I woke up and reached for my shirt, only to feel as if a rubber band had snapped in my head.

I totally lost my balance and fell. I sat there for minute and thought, this has to go away. Seconds passed, and then I thought, this isn’t going away, this isn’t right.

My wife was awakened by me calling her name. She thought I might be battling vertigo or an extreme migraine. Then I became violently ill.

She called her brother, who lived nearby. They carried me to the car and arrived at the hospital in less than 10 minutes.

The problem eventually was traced to the hole that had been in my heart since birth. Everyone is born with it, but most close on their own.

The hole in my heart hole caused a stroke. There are usually precursors, but I never felt anything.

I was in and out of consciousness for three days. While I lay in my bed alternating between vomiting and sleeping, my wife had one rule for visitors that echoed my mindset – no crying allowed.

Four months after my stroke, I underwent a cardiac catheterisation to close the hole in my heart. My wife and I celebrated by training for a marathon.

It was my first marathon and her second. We trained wearing special T-shirts. Mine read “Stroke Survivor” on the back, her’s read “Life Saver.” We finished the run in 5 hours, 31 minutes, 35 seconds.

Nowadays, I occasionally nap, and sometimes gets headaches. Most of all, I’m thankful to be alive.

It’s hard to have my young son sitting here and looking up at me with a lifetime ahead of him I want to share and know I could have another stroke.

Hopefully, it will all work out to where I can be with him for a long time.

Here’s to a healthier tomorrow.

– Kirk, 38

“I didn’t want to worry my family so I didn’t make a fuss.”

Heart Healthcare Story

When people find out I have heart disease, they are often surprised.

I have a very active life. I was an aerobics instructor, I’m involved in yoga, and one of my favorite things to do is jump rope. I always made an effort to eat right and take care of myself.

I do have a family history of heart disease, but I thought because I didn’t look like the type of person who gets heart disease, I was fine. I wanted to avoid the many health problems my mother faced.

As my mother got older, her health began to decline, and I became her caregiver. She has undergone multiple surgeries for her heart disease, but it continues to progress. I became determined to live a different, healthier lifestyle.

I thought I was doing everything right, but as many women do, I put off getting a physical. Too often women tend to everyone else’s needs and ignore their own.

Even with all the exercise and healthy eating, I was leaving out an important step towards truly taking care of myself – seeing my doctor on a regular basis.

I started to find I was tired a lot of the time. I was getting headaches and having neck pain. I brushed all of these aside as symptoms of something else – menopause, previous injuries flaring up, or just stress.

I didn’t want to worry my family so I didn’t make a fuss. I was taking four medications for my headaches and trying to fit in time for weekly massages to deal with the pain I was experiencing. I never thought these could be signs my heart was struggling.

I never make New Year’s resolutions, but last year I decided I would finally get that physical I had been putting off for so long. I’m rarely sick, and it had been so long since I’d seen my doctor, that when I went to book the appointment, she was no longer working at the clinic.

I had to go through the process of finding a new doctor. It was such a hassle I almost gave up several times.

I told myself I was healthy, and there was nothing to worry about. But I’d made this New Year’s resolution so I felt like I should see it through to the end.

When I finally saw a new doctor and had the physical examination, she noticed on my paper work there was a family history of heart disease. She decided to run some additional tests and found some abnormalities.

I told myself it was nothing. I truly believed there was no way anything could be wrong with my heart.

The doctor did an angiogram and saw I had a 90 percent blockage on the left side of my heart and a 20 percent blockage on the other.

So, even though it was something I never saw coming, I’m so glad I invested the time to complete that resolution and to get a check up.

If I had given up, who knows what could have happened or how much time I had left.

– Debbie, 57