Observations from an SCA survivor with Ted Gulloyen

In this episode, Paul talks with cardiac arrest survivor and social psychologist Ted Guloien.

Since his arrest during a half-marathon Ted has made many insightful and wise posts relating to his and others recovery.

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He has recently collated them and published them as a pamphlet (as he calls it) titled “Observations of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor or What I wish I’d been told when I was discharged“.

A very interesting conversation and associated publication which is available from Amazon and SCA Facebook groups.

Available to listen on the link below or Spotify, Apple , Google, YouTube and your favourite podcast player.

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Presented by Paul Swindell and edited by Matt Nielson. Recorded November 2019

Ted mentions an obituary he wrote for another survivor that he didn’t know but felt a bond with. Here it is…

I didn’t know Richard Greidanus, but I miss him

I didn’t know Richard Greidanus. We lived about 100 kilometres away from each other; he in Ancaster and I in east Toronto. And Richard was about 5 years younger than I. But we were both avid runners.

In fact, we both ran Hamilton’s Around the Bay 30k road race in 2004 and then, in 2005, ran the Mississauga Marathon. Five years later, Richard and I both ran the ultimate reward for runners, the Boston Marathon. It was my fifth and Richard’s second Boston Marathon. And while we never ran together or even knew each other, it is possible we crossed paths or saw each other somewhere over the course of those events. At least I’d like to think so.

I didn’t know Richard as the son, husband, father, friend and business executive that he was for many others in the Hamilton area; I only knew Richard through our shared experience of being runners. But Richard and I did have something else in common. We both raced in the Road2Hope half marathon that ends in Hamilton’s beautiful Confederation Park. Unlike those other races we ran, we didn’t run this particular half-marathon at the same time.

In fact, we ran it a year apart, but for one day. I ran the race on November 3rd 2013 and Richard the following year, on November 2nd. Richard and I both collapsed near the finish line of our respective races, with my heart stopping some 250 metres from the finish and Richard’s a mere 10 metres from the line.

We both promptly received medical attention and were rushed to Hamilton General Hospital. I survived. Richard, sadly, did not. I first learned of Richard’s death on the one-year anniversary of my own cardiac arrest in Confederation Park. I had driven to Hamilton to find the spot where I fell by using the data from the GPS watch I was wearing during the race. I thought that being at that exact spot might help me recall something about what happened there a year ago. It didn’t. Deprived of oxygen by my fibrillating heart, that part of my brain responsible for being aware of the heart-stopping events shut down before I hit the path I was running on. As I was walking back to my car, I received an email from a running partner in Toronto with a link to the CBC story about the runner who died running the half-marathon the day before. That runner was Richard. Like me, Richard was doing something he obviously loved doing. And if his last moments were anything like mine on that day in November, Richard would have felt the alternating warmth of the sun through his running clothes and the coolness of the autumn air in the shade from the trees bordering the path as he ran toward the finish line.

With sparkling Lake Ontario peeking through the bushes to his left, he would have heard the excitement of the spectators and felt the chatter and camaraderie of the ever-changing cohort of runners in his proximity as he passed them, and they him. His legs tired and his body exhausted from the continuous effort, he would have felt a surge of renewed strength as he sensed the approaching finish. At that point, he might have picked up the pace a bit and started his sprint homeward. He may even have felt that overwhelming sense of joy that runners sometimes experience, that love of being alive and being in love with life when the physical struggle is nearly over and the goal is within reach.

That’s how it was for me, about a quarter of a kilometre away from completing the race. I can only guess at the joy Richard must have felt a mere 10 metres from the finish line. And then, before I even knew I was about to fall, I lost consciousness. If Rick was here today, he’d probably look at me and soberly say, “Ted, I only beat you by 200 metres or so. That’s nothing. You’ll do better the next time.”, and then swap stories about our half-marathon experiences.

I understand Rick was that kind of guy. He’s been described as a good man, as being generous, supportive and caring, and as a positive mentor. He was kind-hearted and patient, his running acquaintances say, and selfless. If only Rick was here today, I could talk to him about how hard it’s been to reconcile my runner’s heart failing me without warning during that race. I’d ask his advice about how to get my confidence back after such a monumental physical and psychological let down.

 I would share with him the obdurate sense of loss I feel about not being able to run like I used to. I believe he would understand like no one else could. I didn’t know Richard Greidanus, yet if it’s possible to truly miss someone you’ve never met, I miss Rick. Like many others, I wish he was here today to offer some words of encouragement and help us move, or run, forward.

Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

Sequelae, common issues post cardiac arrest

In episode #022 Paul talks about cardiac arrest sequelae.

Sequelae is not a word that many people are familiar with, and even though it is very pertinent to sudden cardiac arrest survivors it’s probably not one they would have heard of before. It simply means a condition which is the consequence of a previous disease or injury and in survivors this could be down to a number of factors.

Many survivors report having a wide range of “symptoms” post arrest and often it is not clear or explained as to why they happen. Paul talks about the impact that anoxia/hypoxia can have on the brain and the issues that it can cause and the results of a survey which shows the most common issues experienced by the members of Sudden Cardiuac Arrest UK.

More information on this subject can be found on our Sequelae page.

Available to listen on the link below or Spotify, Apple , Google and your favourite podcast player.

Presented by Paul Swindell and edited by Matt Nielson. Recorded October 2019

ICD patient education and advocacy with Doug Rachac

In episode #018 of the Life After Cardiac Arrest podcast Paul talks with Doug Rachac who is a medical device patient educator and advocate.

Prior to his own cardiac issues Doug was a Medtronic employer for many years working in a number of roles including training and education. Doug experienced a number of cardiac related blackouts and subsequently ended up with an ICD being implanted to protect him from further episodes and the possibility of a cardiac arrest.

Since then Doug has left Medtronic to focus on family life and educating patients and industry about what it is like to have an implanted device such as an ICD. He is active on various peer support groups and has his own YouTube channel. Here he covers lots of the common questions ICD owners have, explaining topics in a clear and easy to understand manner.

Available to listen on the link below or Spotify, Apple , Google and your favourite podcast player.

Presented by Paul Swindell and edited by Matt Nielson. Recorded September 2019