Friday October 6, 2006 was a special day for my wife Laurie and me. I took the day off work to go to Portland, Oregon, about 150 miles from our home to pick up a dog that we imported from Hungary. On the way home, Laurie and I stopped in the Columbia River Gorge to walk our new family member and to show her the new country that she would call home.
We started driving from the Columbia River Gorge and headed for home. About twenty minutes from home, Laurie told our new dog, Opal, that she would soon meet her "sister," Jasmine, a dog that we had imported earlier that year. Laurie and I started to laugh. Just after that I said, "Oh my God." I guess I knew something was wrong cause I took the car off cruise control and moved my feet from the pedals. We were just coasting down the road and Laurie thought we were having car troubles at that time. She was listening for something wrong with the car, but the car was heading for the guardrail on top of an overpass. She reached over and grabbed the wheel so we would not hit it.
My hands dropped into my lap. At that point she knew something was wrong and engaged the emergency brake. She looked at me to tell me, what are you thinking, when she noticed that my head was back, my eyes were wide open, and I was gurgling and not breathing. She got her phone and dialed 911. We were stopped on top of an overpass in the middle of a busy freeway. While on the phone she heard some tires squealing and looked out the back window to see an 18-wheeler trying to stop and avoid hitting us. He regained control of the vehicle and came back to see if he could help. Laurie gave him the phone to talk to 911 and she began administering CPR. This was difficult, as I was still sitting up in the seat and she could not exit the vehicle on her side of the car because we were too close to the guardrail. The third car that came by happened to be two paramedics and their wives and they stopped to help. They pulled me out of the car and started CPR on me.
Thirteen minutes later the ambulance arrived and they shocked me with the defibrillator three times before my heart started again. On the way to the hospital they met another better-equipped ambulance to transport me the rest of the way. While in the second ambulance, my heart stopped again and they shocked me two more times.
They took me to Mid Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Oregon. The doctors didn't give me much hope and told Laurie that I might not make it through the night. Some time during the night, Laurie told me to hang on and I squeezed her hand. She told my doctor about this, which gave them hope for my survival. The doctor called a specialist in Portland and was told to ice me down, get my temp down to 87 F, and keep it there. I was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland the next day, still in an induced coma from my body temperature being lowered. On Sunday, October 8, they warmed my body up and let me come out of the coma, not knowing what my condition would be. I was told I started talking and asking what happened and where was I. This was good news to those in the room. It wasn"t until Wednesday that I remember anythingthat was when the doctor came in and told me what I had experienced was sudden cardiac arrest. He told me that only three percent of the people outside of a medical center survive. He also said that he didn't know what God I was praying to, but to keep praying to him.
They did an angiogram and found no blockage. On Friday they implanted an ICD and let me go home the following Saturday. I'm just glad that I'm still here to tell my story.