Ten years doesn’t generally seem like that long until you look back and see how many things have changed. I’ve been reflecting quite a bit because it’s been ten years since my heart incident. I haven’t written about it in a while. I realized some people may not know much about what happened.
On May 12, 2007 I met up with my friends Doug and Angie to see some live music at a Starbucks in Indianapolis. Afterwards we went to Angie’s for pizza and a movie. While we were watching the movie, my heart started fibrillating, I had seizures, and lost consciousness. They called 911 and paramedics arrived quickly. I was taken to the nearby Indiana Heart Hospital. I was still seizing and unconscious, so they gave me a number of drugs and ran neural tests. The doctors were telling my friends and family that it wasn’t looking good. They were expecting severe brain damage.
By the second day, they’d determined that my heart was where the most immediate problem was. An EEG was showing minimal brain activity. I was running a 103-degree fever, which is dangerous for the brain. They put me on ice for 24 hours to keep my body temperature at 93 degrees. They kept me unconscious during that period.
After they had me back up to a normal temperature, I was apparently more responsive. A nurse told me to squeeze her hand and I did. I wiggled my toes another time. On Wednesday they started to bring me out from sedation and removed my breathing tubes. I was really disoriented for the next couple days. There was memory loss of the incident, which is natural. Just a few months earlier, my mom had brain surgery. I was pretty confused waking up in the hospital and kept thinking I was visiting my mom while she was recovering. They had to keep explaining things to me, but eventually it stuck.
I recovered physically pretty well the following days, and did lots of tests to determine what happened. Nothing was conclusive, so eventually it fell back to: probably a virus of some sort that caused my heart to fibrillate. Yes, it was a bit unnerving to not have a conclusive cause. They decided to put in a defibrillator as a precaution. That was part reassuring (at least this won’t happen again) and scary (holy crap, I’m 28 and getting a pacemaker??).
On May 23 the pacemaker/defibrillator was put in and the next day I was released from the hospital. I spent a month recovering at my mom’s before returning home.
While all this happened, my friends rallied together to pray for me, support my family, and help however they could. Doug set up a forum to share updates, which was really helpful for people who were far away. Doug gave me a backup of that forum many years ago, but I only recently dug it out to read things again. It reminds me how blessed I am to be alive and the outpouring of love I felt from everyone. It remains humbling how many people were praying for me.
I’m lucky to be here today. I could have been alone when it happened. Instead I was with friends. I was also in a part of town close to the heart hospital. Paramedics were really close and arrived quickly.
I was a new employee at my job and their health insurance had kicked in just before this happened. When I started there, I had the option of being a contractor or a regular employee. I’m really glad I chose the employee route because I’m certain I would not have had my health insurance arranged in time had I chosen contracting.
In the last ten years I’ve had a surgery to replace one of the leads and then a surgery to replace the device near the end of its life cycle. I had quite a scare with my mom’s own heart incident. She also has a pacemaker now and is doing well. I’ve moved from Indianapolis to Chicago to Bellingham. I’ve been through some dark times with friends and thankfully, many light times. I’ve been in love a couple times, in like quite a few times, in a serious relationship, and then not. I haven’t been the best about keeping up with friends who live far away. Life happens fast.
Here are some memorable moments. Quotes are from the forum ten years ago.
Sheryl made me two mix CDs, gRegor’s Wake Up Mix. I still have those and listening to them again reminds me of lots of fun times going to concerts. I miss Brandtson and Vroom and Throws Like a Girl and Edinburgh and Idle Tuesday and No More Droids and The End Game and...
When Allison visited me in the hospital, she told me on their way they had seen a sign for Girls Expo. They pondered, “Hmm, gRegor or the Girls Expo? Which is more important?” I responded that they should have come to get me then taken me to the Girls Expo. My mom and aunt were in the room and apparently put off by that conversation, but it was still hilarious.
The absolute best part (IMO) - his male nurse, Michael, was telling gRegor about how he seemed to respond more to the female nurse that had been with him the night before and how he must like the ladies more. gRegor’s response - “well, I am gRegorLove”.— Sheryl Hugill
The nurse that told me to squeeze her hand was apparently quite attractive. I was under sedation at the time and never saw her after I awoke, but my friends made sure I knew. There were lots of comments about me having game even while unconscious.
When you get better, I will come to your next picnic/fire roast/thing. Maybe. Unless I have another kid, which is quite possible yo’. I miss you online making fun of me. Everyone needs someone to make them feel like a loser. Well pal, you’re my someone!—
Spoiler alert: she had another kid, but she did make it to at least one of the bonfires. I remember her coming to visit me at my mom’s while I was recovering. Her son Javin gave me a drawing that I still have.
Come L:home soon. Miss you. I can’t take over the twitterverse without you. Today twitter, tomorrow the WORLD!!—
I had to refresh my memory on this one. Circa 2007 there were Twitter-related services (Twittermap, Twittervision) to map your location based on tweets. This was before each tweet had a geolocation attached. The “L:” syntax was how you indicated where you were. I like how this message captures our nerdiness and the enthusiasm for early-days Twitter.
Also, just so you know, you proposed marriage to every one of the nurses that took care of you while sedated. And some of the more attractive male nurses as well. My suggestion? Move to Utah.—
Monday night (the night when he squeezed the nurses hand for the first time) I had a dream that he woke up.
EDIT: I should also mention that in the dream, in true gRegor fashion, I found out he woke up because he put a message on his twitter “I’m UP!!”—
After reading this, of course I had to tweet it.
Another thing the nurse told us is she asked him was his name, age, and what he did for a living. He knew all those answers - so that's good. She said he said he was dreaming he was in a race car.... :)—
Someone needs to ask him what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is. Then we’ll know if he’s going to be his same ol’ self.—
What do you mean, African or European swallow?
When they replace pacemakers, you can have the manufacturer send you the old one. Mine was replaced in 2014 and of course I requested the old one. Unfortunately they send you the same model, but not necessarily the exact one that was in you. Still, it’s a pretty cool souvenir of the whole experience.