Last month we had our third annual meet-up of members of Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK. From our humble beginnings just over 2 years ago, where we had 13 attend, this year despite a few last minute drop outs we continued our exponential growth and getting on for 40 guests! I don’t know if there are any UK records for the number of people that have survived a cardiac arrest in one place, but I’m guessing this would be a real contender!
We were upstairs in Green Room which provided a nice private space in the Mulberry Bush pub on the Southbank. The space had a good feel and with a few activities and some of our new leaflets scattered around the setting looked good!
Despite a slight cooling off from the previous weeks sweltering weather the day was still a pretty warm one, but that meant that there was a great opportunity for people to show off their nice new SCA UK T-Shirts, and the purple and pink was much in evidence.
Despite taking a little detour on the way there Kim & Dean were the first guests to arrive and it was great to see them looking so well, considering that Dean had his SCA whilst driving their car with a full load only last year!
As the afternoon progressed more and more guests turned up and it was great to see lots of new faces mixing and chatting with the regulars as if they had known each other for ever. I heard some great stories or survival and recovery, but also of others who were struggling with coming to terms with their new life. Many survivors have little visibly to show apart from a small ICD incision scar, but I was mightily impressed with Ben Parkin’s collection of scars from various heart related issues.
The intrepid abseilers arrived a little later to tell of their heroics and how cool and not scared they all were. Worryingly, discussions were started on how to scare the pants off the volunteers for next years challenge!
Food and drink were excellent and in plentiful supply although I think Fernando, our dedicated waiter was probably a little disappointed at our level of alcohol consumption, although I’m sure one or two tried to address the balance 😉
Towards the end of the day the numbers thinned out and it meant the temperature in the Green room dropped a few degrees to make it a little more agreeable. It was also a chance to have some more in-depth conversation and a chance to watch David’s SCA caught live on CCTV. Something that I wasn’t sure about watching, but I am glad I did as it was very interesting video and it would serve greatly as a general training aid for what to do and not to do in situations like this. It was a stark reminder of the knife edge we walked upon that day, but it was great to see David looking so well considering what I’d just seen.
All in all it was an excellent day ably hosted by Tabatha and thanks go to her and also to Anne & John of SADS UK for supporting the event.
There was lot’s of great feedback after the event and one of the attendees, Bob Reville summed up the day with a very nice post on his Facebook timeline…
“Well today was the reason I am in London and what a worthwhile and inspiring day it was. I was at a meeting organised by Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK for survivors of SCAs. With the exception of Chris who I met up with yesterday I have never met anyone else who has survived a Sudden Cardiac Arrest so today was very special.
It was nice to meet up with so many lovely people and although I have never met any of them before we all seemed to have a bond already formed by our SCAs which made it very easy for us all to get along.
I was surprised by how young everyone there was and I would guess the average age to be around 40. Most people like myself had no prior health issues and were generally in good to very good health prior to having the SCA and felt nothing beforehand and again like myself the first they knew was waking up from a coma in hospital.
Most people who suffer from an SCA don’t survive or if they do they have quite severe brain damage.
Listening to other people’s stories we all seem to have had an element of luck, either by making a better recovery than most, having someone around who knew what to do and we’re able to perform CPR quickly or as in my case being close to an external defibrillator which helped us to not only survive but survive with only minimal brain damage to enable us to still live a relatively normal life still.
No one no matter how close or well meaning they are can ever really fully understand what we all go through emotionally on a daily basis and it was very comforting to be with people who share this.
The most inspiring thing of the day was seeing how positive everyone one is. I for one have gained a lot from today and hopefully others have too.
Thank you SCA UK for a very remarkable and worthwhile day”
After our first meet-up in February 2015, I realised I was not alone. It was the first time since my cardiac arrest the previous year that I had spoken face-to-face with someone who had experienced what I had. This was also true for my wife, who also happened to be my lifesaver. From that meet-up, the idea of SCA UK was born. Since then, we have achieved a considerable amount, primarily providing information, resources and support to others in a similar situation but also raising the profile of survivorship and the need for better post-discharge care. We are starting to get traction in this, and with the formation of the charity, I genuinely believe we have a bright future ahead and will make a significant difference in the lives of many who join our ranks.