This selfie was taken three years ago on May 15, 2014. It was just four days after I had a massive heart attack at home and went into sudden cardiac arrest – where I was saved by my husband performing CPR, paramedics shocked me, doctors discovered I had a 70% blockage at a precarious location in my left anterior descending artery and I was placed in an induced coma under protocols for protective hypothermia to save my brain and organ function. This picture was taken three days after I went into cardiac arrest three additional times in the hospital where the nurses performed CPR and shocked my heart a total of 13 times in an attempt to stabilize me. This was just two days after I had a stent placed in my heart, because the risky option to remove my blockage had become the only option that might save my life.
This selfie was taken by me on the first day I can remember. My memories aren’t vivid, but it was the beginning of me finally realizing what had happened. I was blessed to know that my last words to my daughter weren’t going to be, “Allie, clean your room!” I do remember several of my visitors that day, but I don’t think I can recall all of them. On this day, I began hearing the stories of what had happened, how horrific everything had been, how close to death I came. I read the hundreds of messages of support that had been posted all over Facebook offering thoughts, positive energy and prayers.
Along with this picture, I posted, “I can’t even begin to express how happy I am to be alive!!! I’m so grateful for the quick actions of my husband who first gave me CPR, to the helicopter pilot who flew me to Hartford safely (although I wish I had gotten a souvenir picture like I’ve seen so many of you get from your helicopter rides), the doctors and nurses who took care of me and shocked me back three times from my first heart attack, five shocks for the second and six from the last one before finally implanting a stent. I’m so proud of my kids who witnesses the first heart attack at home. Tom said they were kneeling by the door praying for me. I’m so appreciative of the many cards and visits I’ve had and the THOUSANDS of prayers that were said for me and my family. I may not look great, but I’m alive and getting better everyday!!! Thank you for all the love, thoughts and positive energy you sent my way!!!”
Okay, the message may be choppy and the number of shocks was wrong as I have since confirmed through the hospital medical records, but give a girl a break – I almost bought the farm … kicked the can … met my maker … bit the dust … cashed in my chips! It seemed like the fat lady was doing a LOT of vocal warm ups!!! But, I defied the odds and I’m still here. Here to celebrate my third Mother’s Day after the most hellish one.
While the date of my heart attack was May 11, the story will always center around this holiday. My favorite Mother’s Day gift this year was a charm. One for a bracelet I haven’t worn for about six months because I’ve gained weight and it doesn’t fit. As I opened the gift, my husband said, “This is something you got three years ago.” I knew an AED couldn’t have been in the small box in my hand. I was confused, but my family was on the edge of their seats waiting for me to open the gift. Had they found some security footage from the Life Star Helicopter with the picture I said I wished I had? No, too small for that, too. I lifted the lid to see a charm with a heartbeat.
A heartbeat. We all overlook them everyday. Our hearts beat more than 108,000 times a day. Every heartbeat as important as the next. They are what keeps us all alive. One after the other, pumping blood through our bodies to keep them functioning. Something I never thought about, I completely lost three years ago. Three years ago, I got my heartbeat back. Now it’s time for me to pay more attention to each beat that blesses me everyday and allow myself the time and focus on self care to keeping them going. It’s time for me to make sure that bracelet will fit again so I can wear it as a reminder of what was lost and what I have gotten back.
Moving forward, I will take more time to put my hand over my heart. To really feel my heartbeats. To thank a few everyday on behalf of the thousands. Being aware of the ones I have will help fuel my desire to make sure I have billions more in my future!