Two mornings ago I awoke but my wife did not. A mostly healthy 38-year-old woman went to bed at night and was unresponsive at 6 AM. Before you read any further, please remember that John is the paramedic, not me.
I did the sternum rub and some light smacks to the face. I called 911, put them on speakerphone, and they had me move her to the floor and perform CPR. I did chest compressions for 4-5 minutes until the paramedics arrived. And I cried the whole time.
When I got to the hospital (had to get my kids to school first), she was on a ventilator which was doing 100% of the breathing for her. She was diagnosed with ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and I was told that if I felt anyone should be there with her, they pretty much needed to get there NOW.
I am happy to report that, less than two days after all of the above took place, my wife has made what can only be described as a miraculous recovery. They extubated her this afternoon and this evening she was eating ice cream! Her doctor said he has never seen anyone make such a recovery so quickly. Nurses in the Emergency Room–who were part of the team that worked on her upon her arrival via ambulance–got word of this and came up to see this Wonder Girl!
I share this story here for a few reasons.
1. If you are not certified in CPR, you are wrong. There’s no other way to say it. I favor even more extensive medical training, such as the class I took with Dark Angel Medical in 2013, but CPR and maybe some basic first aid classes would be better than nothing. I really, truly believe that each of us is MUCH more likely to require the services of such medical training than a handgun, carbine, or shotgun.
2. Make a plan with your significant other about what to do in such circumstances, no matter how young or healthy you both are. Shit happens. Have a file folder (a physical one and/or thumb drive or the like) with important information: insurance, bank accounts, passwords for online bill payment, contact information for people at each others’ workplaces, etc. Make sure your wills a) exist and b) are up to date, along with any advance directives. Some of these issues came up or would have come up had the worst happened. As with so many other things, be prepared.
3. I know some people, such as some coworkers of mine, who could not possibly have performed CPR for as long as I did that day. CPR is physically taxing if you do it correctly, but I must say that, as I look back on everything, I did not feel particularly winded or weakened from the experience, and probably could have performed it for a much longer period of time, despite the tears. The cardio and pushups are paying off. Get yourself in shape and stay in shape. It’s not just about how you look or feel, but about capability. See here for a little more information on this topic.
4. We are unsure, as of this writing, what her recovery will be like. Despite her rapid progress, her full recovery could take months. So, at this point, I am anticipating a reduced output for blog articles from me (except for a few that were in the editing stage), and I may also need to postpone/cancel my plans for some of the training classes I had signed up for this year. We shall see. But with a wife and children, they are far and away my priority.
Those are a few of my takeaways. Thanks for reading. Comments are welcome below.
My wife was discharged from the hospital today; she literally walked out! No wheelchair. Will need to take antibiotics for a few days and utilize her inspirometer to work on her lungs just a bit. Other than that, no real issues. She’s lucky and she knows it.
Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, and offers of assistance. They are much appreciated.