Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Recipe for Life

On May 12, 2011, I went to the gym for my normal noon workout.  I completed my warm up, got ready for the prescribed workout of the day (WOD) and at 3, 2, 1, Go! I started into 20 seconds of pull ups.  At the end of the 20 seconds, I had 10 seconds to rest and write down my completed reps before I would start into the next 20 seconds.  As I bent over to write my number down, I became dizzy.  I stood up to say something and that is all I remember.

For the next four or so minutes, a group of my closest friends worked together and saved my life.  I experienced sudden cardiac arrest due to a congenital heart defect called Long QT Syndrome.  I knew nothing of it prior to that day, and since have learned that my mom and both of my children have the same condition.

 The good news is, there is more to my story...it doesn't end there. I was blessed to be surrounded by the right people when my event occurred.  Among my group of friends were a physician’s assistant and a veterinarian.  Without their quick response, I may not be here to tell my story.  That said, it does not require an advanced medical degree to respond quickly and calmly in this kind of a situation.  Since my event, I have become aware of the lack of knowledge and training the general public has in regard to CPR or Automatic External Defibrillators (AED).  These are two incredibly effective, life-saving tools, simple enough for children to use.

Even more than my cardiac event, the diagnosis of both my children has prompted me to become an advocate of CPR awareness.  I am volunteering with the American Heart Association, speaking at events and helping lobby for CPR initiatives.  I am also in the process of working with various organizations dedicated to screening young athletes for heart conditions in hopes to bring these programs to Colorado schools.  Did you know, “On average, a seemingly healthy young person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest every three days in the US and it’s the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes” (nickoftimefoundation.org)?  Many of these cases could have been prevented with a quick, non-invasive heart screen (ECG) or saved by someone trained to perform CPR or use an AED.

Did you know your children’s coaches and teachers are not required to know CPR?  Do you know CPR?  Would you want to stand by helpless if someone were to collapse in your presence?  There are free or inexpensive CPR events in nearly every locality every weekend.   You don’t have to be certified to save someone’s life.  Get out there and do it!

1 comment:

  1. Jen - such a shock to read what you've been through and how grateful I am you are here to write your story and channel what you've experienced into something so positive. It's amazing that your mother and sons have the same diagnosis, and there again grateful that you now know. Your post makes immediately makes me think of the young woman that died last weekend running in the London Marathon. I hope you get great results delivering the message of the importance of CPR training for every single person. No excuses for all of us not to know how to save a life. Your story proves that. Big hug to you Jen and to your sweet family x