Cindy Schoelen – CPR Saved My Husband
Cindy shares the dramatic story of her husband’s recent heart attack in honor of CPR and AED Awareness Week.
On September 19, 2020, my husband and I were in St. George, Utah for a Senior Softball World Championship Tournament. He has played slow-pitch softball during our entire marriage which will be 37 years this May. He has been diagnosed with Acid Reflux for several years and was hurting in his chest that week we left for Utah. He played two days in the tournament before the day that my world stood still. We were getting ready for breakfast that morning and then his team was going to have batting practice. When he was showering, I was getting ready and we were talking, then he became extremely light-headed and collapsed in the shower. He suffered a massive heart attack. I went into a complete panic and shock. I could not move him or get him to respond to me. I ran to the phone and instead of calling 911, I called the front desk in a hysterical state and a very calm, friendly voice told me “Hold On, I am on my way”. I rank back into the bathroom and kept trying to get him to respond. He was turning blue around his lips.
Then I heard this amazing woman come in and tell me that she will help him and I needed to go wait by the door for the paramedics. She began performing CPR on him and I remember hearing her say “You are not going out on my shift”. The paramedics came and pulled him out of the shower into the living area of the room so they could have plenty of room to help him. They put the pads on him for the AED and began performing chest compressions and breathing for him with a bag. He had no pulse. They shocked his heart twice in what seemed to be an eternity. I was in shock and just kept staring at him waiting for him to wake up. The lead paramedic shocked his heart a third time and leaned back on his heels preparing to pronounce him deceased.
Before he did, I prayed to God “please do not take him from me today, I need him”. Before the words could come out of the paramedic's mouth, the younger paramedic who was doing an amazing job on the chest compressions said “no wait, I have a pulse”.
They transported him to the hospital. I was driven there by the officer who responded to the call and I barely remember the drive there. When we arrived and he opened my door, I just ran into the Emergency Room asking for my husband. I was placed in a family room by myself when the doctors came in to discuss the situation. It was grave. They told me he would not survive. They took my husband to the Cardiac Lab where they had to shock his heart 10 more times to keep it from stopping so they could clear the 100% blockage in his right coronary artery and place a stent. Once the blockage was cleared and the stent point in, his heart went back into a regular rhythm.
However, he was in a coma because of the lack of oxygen to his brain. I was told that to contact my family back in Texas because he would not survive. He was placed in the ICU and on life support except for his heart. It continued to beat on its own. He remained in a coma for three days and every day the doctor told me that he would not wake up. I refused to believe it because God would not have brought him through the heart attack unless He had a purpose for him.
On the third day, I was going to speak with his nurse regarding an issue of a family member who drove hours to see him could not get permission to come to the ICU. I was not in any state of mind to deal with it and his nurse stopped me before I had a chance to speak. He and the medical assistant then told me that my husband was awake and knew me. He did not remember why he was in the hospital. I ran to his room and saw those beautiful green eyes looking at me with a smile on his file. He definitely had some brain injury but not to the extent that the doctors thought he would have and cannot remember the 10 days of the trip itself.
The staff from the ER did not believe he woke up and were talking. They had to run upstairs to see him to believe it. The hospital teams worked with him for several days to see if he would be able to make the long trip back home. After days of physical rehab and speech therapy, he was released to come home. He is still struggling to deal with the brain injury and the feeling of loss of control.
He was diagnosed with an Anoxic Brain Injury.
As a Caregiver of my beloved husband, I have tried to find ways of helping him understand how his life and mine have changed but I cannot find the resources to help me understand how to help him.
What I do know is that we serve an amazing God who gave me more time to spend with him.