My near fatal asthma attackWhen I went into full Cardiac and respiratory arrest on April 28, 1995
A Beautiful Spring Day
It was a beautiful spring day in Michigan. The date was April 28, 1995 and I had a stressful day at work. After dinner, I decided to unwind and don the skates for a short trip. Normally, I would go a mile or so and then return. Fortunately, that day I decided to just circle the block and not go my usual route.
Home, But Not Out of The Woods
She went to put on a pot of coffee which usually seemed to help when my asthma bothered me. By the time she put the pot on, I had only wrestled one of my skates off and my breathing was starting to get critical. The inhalers weren’t helping at all. I beat on the door again and told her that something was wrong. She then called 911 and stayed on the phone with the dispatcher as I was in terrible agony. Imagine someone putting a piece of plastic wrap over your face and no air getting in at all. It’s a feeling that I cannot describe it was so horrible. In my mind, I started realizing I wasn’t going to make it this time. My body and chest ached from gasping for air.
The last sounds I remember were sirens way off in the distance. They seemed so far away. Then it was like a volume control being turned down. Things got quieter until I finally collapsed on the porch. My wife says I turned a bluish purple almost immediately. Several minutes later, the Royal Oak Fire Department arrived and started administering CPR. Then the paramedics arrived and they intubated me and used the Defibrillator paddles to shock me and restart my heart.
In the Cardiac Intensive care unit
The next thing I remember was lying in a hospital bed very relaxed but unable to open my eyes or move any part of my body. My mind was totally alert and I could hear the nurses talking about a date they had gone on. One of them even said “Don’t worry, He can’t hear us” and I remember thinking that was funny at the moment. I believe they gave me the paralyzing drug because of the breathing tubes they had in me.
My feet tend to be warm while I sleep (That’s why I took the trail name HotFoot on the Appalachian Trail) and they’re usually poking outside the covers at night. It was absolutely maddening that my feet were all covered up and I couldn’t kick the covers off but still aware of everything. I faded back out to sleep and a little while later heard my wife. The stuff they gave me to paralyze me was starting to wear off and I was able to open my eyes. I then could barely move my feet and tried to signal her to uncover my feet by wiggling my toes. She then ratted me out to the nurse and said my feet were moving so the nurse came and gave me another shot to totally paralyze me again which was again frustrating.
The Paramedics and EMT’s of the Royal Oak, Michigan Fire Department
The paramedics and EMT’s did a terrific job bringing me back after this near fatal asthma attack. I used to work on an ambulance and did CPR on people numerous times but never thought I would be a recipient. They did a great job. The EMT who was doing CPR kept talking to me the whole time I was out and coaxing me back. I know I must have heard him subconsciously because I cannot think about that without feeling emotional.
Several newspaper articles were written (article 1) and (article 2) about this incident and a representative from the television show “Rescue 911” called and said they were considering doing an episode on this incident.
Another Close Call Where I Almost Didn’t Make It
Several months prior to this incident on January 15, 1995 (my 40th birthday), I had another severe asthma attack where I almost didn’t make it. Fortunately an ambulance was at the event (Monster truck exhibition) and my kids were able to get help for me before I totally shut down. The weather was brutally cold and that plus exertion getting the kids a mile to the stadium in 10 below zero temperatures triggered the attack. That was another close call but I won’t go into the details of that serious asthma attack. We never did get to see the Monster trucks that evening.