Save Date: 7/14/2007
Four days before my 50th birthday, my golfing neighbor buddies took me out for 18 holes and then planned a "neighborhood" BBQ afterwards. After finishing the 18 holes (scoring my best score in 15 years) we turned the golf carts in and were heading out the clubhouse door when my friend said I said "oh my God" and he turned around to see me falling to the ground on the asphalt in the front doorway of the clubhouse.
He immediately started CPR on me. A person who turned out to be the fire chief of the local fire department was coming in the door to go to a reception and started to assist him. I'm told that there was an AED in the clubhouse that was gotten, along with a deputy sheriff who showed up, and together they shocked me four times to get me going again.
An ambulance arrived and took me to the local hospital where the ER doctor advised that I should be flown by helicopter to the hospital in Minneapolis that specializes in heart-related trauma. I was then put in a body bag and my wife, who had met me at the local hospital after being called by the neighbors' wives to get there ASAP, was told to kiss me good-bye and I was given last rites and flown to the heart institute.
By the time everyone arrived there -- my wife and kids and the neighbors -- the doctors had conferred and decided that I had too much damage for them to do anything and I'd have to "do it on my own." For some strange reason, though, after having told my wife that wonderful news, the same doctors conferred again and said "let's give it a try" and started me into the cool-down treatment which lowered my body temperature down to 90 degrees and I was put into a hospital-induced coma. By the way, I was also defibrilated again in the chopper on the way to the hospital.
Well, luckily there was one of two beds available for me in the cool-down treatment and I was then monitored for a few days before what turned out to be five-valve bypass procedure that was done on July 18. On July 19, my 50th birthday, I developed pneumonia and had to be defibrilated once more (for a total of 3 times, the first time taking 4 attempts) and the doctors said there was a five percent chance that I'd survive and be more than in a vegetative state or otherwise hospitalized in a nursing home; certainly don't necessarily plan on me walking out of the hospital "normal."
Well, lo and behold, they awoke me on July 22 and I responded to all questions and tests and four days after that I was released to go home. I had a few tough weeks of tenderness and weakness, needing help to get up out of bed or out of a chair, but by a couple months later and a few checkups with my cardiologist - who claimed I was a miracle, along with the ER trauma nurses who gave me 24-hour hands-on care for all those days - I was given clearance to return to work and am presently in the midst of recovery without seeing my cardiologist for six months.
Six months! Things obviously are going well for me right now, knock on wood, and the doctor seems to think with good lifestyle, etc., I could have 30 years more and that my heart is working like a "fine-tuned Swiss watch" (his words verbatim) and combine good living and walking on my treadmill, my goal is to get back on the course by this spring. That's my story.