Tuesday, November 4, 2008 was a terrible day for us. About 11:30 am we received a phone call from our daughter-in-law, Beth, that our son, Todd, was being taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was in the shower getting ready to go to work when he just fell over. At first, Beth, thought Todd was just playing around, but he did not respond. As luck would have it, when Todd fell, he blocked the door shut. Beth's son, Anthony was home because of election day. He heard Todd fall and came to investigate. Beth had him call 9-1-1 and they managed to get the door open just enough to get the phone into Beth.
The dispatcher gave Beth CPR instructions over the phone which Beth did until the paramedics arrived to take over Todd's care. He was in V-fib cardiac arrest. They shocked him, continued CPR and transported him to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va.
Leah and I arrived around 2:30 PM and were surrounded by Todd's friends from the emergency medical flight service where he works. We were shown to a smaller room of the main emergency waiting room. An emergency room doctor came in and told us that Todd was stable and was being taken to the ICU. Soon after a Cardiologist came in and informed us that they did not feel that Todd had suffered any heart damage, but they were going to be running additional test the following day.
After we moved up to the ICU waiting room, Beth said that she had a feeling that Todd did not want to be in that hospital. Todd's friend, Dave, got on the phone to their Medical Director at VCU Medical Center. VCUMC put the wheels in motion to make the transfer happen on their end. We had to push on our end to make the transfer happen. One doctor wanted to wait another day until he felt that Todd was more stable to be flown to Richmond, Va. We insisted that Todd be transferred now. VCUMC is a hospital that has a protocol for using hypothermia treatment on patients such as Todd and it was necessary that that treatment be started within 6 hours. Todd's vital signs were stable and VCUMC is a familiar, comfortable environment for Todd. And since the weather was not very good the helicopter was not flying so he would be transported by ambulance.
The flight crew wanted to take care of Todd during the ground transport. A protocol for initiating the hypothermia treatment was available for this crew to use prior to hospitalization. So it was arranged for the flight crew to be in the transporting ambulance as his care providers. Another of Todd's friends came to the hospital to also assist during the transport. All went smooth with the transfer to VCUMC.
Beth's mother, Rose, drove down from New York state to look after things at Todd and Beth's house. We left Anthony with Rose and drove Beth to VCUMC. When we got to see Todd, the hypothermia therapy was in place. Prior to hospitalization the cooling was started with chilled IV fluids and ice packs. After hospitalization a cather was inserted into a vein in which cool saline flowed through an enclosed circuit cooling the blood but not mixing with the blood. They cooled his body down to 92 degrees and kept him at that tempature for 24 hours and then rewarmed him over the next 12 hour period. This was to protect his brain from swelling to minimize any possible damage.
It was a very scarry sight to see our 39 year old son with all sorts of IV lines, tubes and wires connected to him. We knew he was in good hands and was getting the best of care and felt that he was going to be okay.
Leah and I left Beth at the hospital and went home to catch a few hours rest and return back with our motorhome so we could stay closer to the hospital. We were able to find a campground about 15 miles from the hospital.
Wednesday was a day when everything was in place, the therapy was in process and all of the monitoring to go along with it. Todd was in a drug induced coma. So we were in a holding pattern. Another friend of Todd's took Beth home Wednesday evening so she could try to get some rest. She stayed as close to Todd as she could until then.
Thursday was a great day for us, they were bringing Todd out of his drug induced coma and he was able to communicate with us. His first question was what happened to him and what hospital was he in. When we all left at the end of the day we were feeling very good as all of Todd's reports were comming back very good.
Friday when we came back to visit, Todd told us that he "woke up" around 1:00 am to find himself in the ICU. He did not remember us being there before Friday morning. After removing all of the IV lines, tubes and wires, the doctors felt Todd could be moved from the ICU to a step down unit later in the day.
More test were performed on Todd, but they could not find anything wrong with his heart nor anything that caused the sudden arrest. As a safegard, Todd had a pacemaker-defibulator installed and was allow to go home on Wednesday 11/12/08.
The doctors said Todd can resume a normal life and in fact is better protected with an implanted ICD than most of us. We hope and pray that he is.
So, if you don't know CPR, please learn. Who knows you might need to use it someday to save a life.
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