The day before my son's birthday, he was just gone. Lying on the couch, he looked like he was crying, and foam was coming out of his mouth. I thought he was having a seizure. I wasn't sure. I panicked. But I am a volunteer trained to react in an emergency, and having my husband not respond to me caused a switch to throw. I did the chest rub, I called 911. I threw him onto the floor of the living room. I did CPR as hard and as fast as I could.
They came quickly, They had to shock him twice. What happened? Why wasn't he waking up? "We have a weak pulse -- going to Kaiser," they said.
I called my father-in-law to give him the heartbreaking news.
I called my father -- "Daddy, I need you" -- and he was there. I was surrounded by friends and family, and we still didn't know what had happened. Stroke? Heart attack? What was it?
Sudden cardiac arrest -- his heart just suddenly stopped working. Odds are not good on this. He was on a ventilator for days and in the hospital for longer.
Now home again, he has memory problems, he has strength issues. He's not my husband; he's more like the little boy he used to be. He wants to know where his mom is. He doesn't understand why she won't come visit and that she has passed away.
Months go by. His employers want to know why he is not back at work. Neighbors want to know why he doesn't acknowledge them, not realizing that he does not recognize who they are.
How do you explain -- his heart stopped. Completely. Nine out of 10 cardiac arrest victims don't come back at all.
My feeble attempts at CPR were just enough to not let everything die.
I have a hard time telling people why he is different now. He used to be my handyman and was always tinkering. Now he doesn't do things around the house anymore. He avoids people and doesn't socialize because he is not always sure what he remembers. He gets tired easily from the effort involved in recalling names and places and things that we have done.
I have to say to them, "Don't you understand? He died on our living room floor. It's a miracle he is even here. Give him time to recover. Let him heal."
My husband left me, and then, he came back. We all go through life doing everything so quickly, always in a hurry. Now he gets to rediscover life and experience it all over again.
We have slowed down, and he is happier now. Before this happened, I was going to school. I changed my plans. My husband had to relearn how to shave, and tie a tie, and he is still not able to remember some simple tasks and directions.
We had some really difficult times, and argued and struggled with these changes to our life, and to him. I know that other little things will pop up, unexpectedly, as he still has more healing to do.
But he's getting better. And he's here. That is all that really matters.
Connell, a loving wife and mother, lives in Hollywood.
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