I suffered a heart attack and a separate sudden cardiac arrest exactly 1 week apart in February 2021. When I came around, other than being strapped to an ECG monitor I felt ok and determined not to look back but always forward. I left the hospital 7 days after arriving, complete with a new S-ICD but on the whole feeling ok.
I joined Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK a week later and was stunned when I discovered just how lucky I was to get through an SCA and to get through it in good shape. Since then, I have embarked on a path of physical rehabilitation and CPR evangelism. 6 months on from my event, my life has been changed and for the positive.
This post talks about my transformation from an SCA survivor to a CPR evangelist and supporter of the charities that were part of my chain of survival.
My Heart Events
I have always been very active and at school was a member of all sports teams, the fastest in my school, and competed at the county level in athletics. Since the onset of Covid lockdown, I exchanged my 5-mile daily car commute for a 40-minute walk and got into road cycling doing 30-50 miles a week. I lost 1 stone in weight and was the fittest I had been in years.
On Saturday 13th of February 2021, while completing a virtual mountain ride on my bike, I felt the sudden onset of indigestion in my chest which turned out to be a heart attack. I was rushed to the Royal Papworth Hospital (64 miles away) and diagnosed with a blockage to the LAD. I had a stent fitted and was sent home 3 days later.
One week on from my heart attack, on Saturday 20th, I collapsed in my bathroom. Fortunately, my wife, who bizarrely had done a CPR refresher less than 24 hours earlier, heard me collapse and administered CPR. The paramedics arrived, I was shocked, taken by air ambulance back to the Royal Papworth, no cause found and had an S-ICD implant as insurance and returned home the following Saturday.
By the standards of members of Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK, my event was quite routine.
I did not feel bad on arrival home; my brain seemed to function, I could walk and even remembered my work passwords. I was directed to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK group in my first week and that was when I discovered that I was one of the 8% of the 30K people who suffered an OOHSCA in the UK and survived having been resuscitated.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) aftercare team arranged a video call with the people who attended to me. I soon arranged a call with the East Anglian Ambulance Service. This was my chance to say thank you to them for saving my life. I was stunned by the response. These people don’t often speak to survivors, and they seemed almost more pleased to meet me.
At this point, I determined I had to do something to try and give back.
Becoming a Supporter
The celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the BHF coincided perfectly with my rehab. In April I committed to walking 60 miles, achieved 72 and raised in excess of £1400 for the charity.
On my return to work, I was determined to spread the message, get people to learn CPR and get the business to step up in the provision of CPR and installation of AEDs.
So, in May I gave an impassioned presentation to 80+ of my colleagues and the reaction was great. I subsequently delivered a presentation on behalf of the EAAA and to another company that I work with. In the latter case, the company committed to providing CPR training and installation of AEDs as a result, making the personal emotional impact all worth it.
Ever since my event, I have worked with the BHF, Royal Papworth Hospital, EAAA and SARS. Spreading the word about CPR has become my new motivation and passion. In the last 6 months, I have made it my purpose to become knowledgeable about my event, its outcomes and the charities that supported me. I am proud to be a supporter of the EAAA and SARS. I am now looking to start a new career in the charity sector so that I can hopefully help others in their times of need.
So far, my story has been featured in the local press, I have had the privilege to speak to the EAAA and meet up with members of the tiny charity that is SARS.
I don’t know what the next 6 months will bring, but my sense of worth and motivation level is higher than they have been for years. I am determined to make my life-changing event a vehicle for good.
I feel incredibly lucky. Not only have I survived the event, but my wife (who delivered CPR) and my adult son, has been amazing.
Our motto is “Always look forward and not back”.
I cannot wait to see what the future brings.
I have worked in IT for over 30 years at BT, but my life took a turn in February 2021 when I experienced a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Since then, I have decided to make a change, and I currently work for Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK).
Outside of work, I have become deeply passionate about improving the lives of SCA survivors and bystanders affected by CPR. I volunteer with Suffolk Accident Rescue Service and East Anglian Air Ambulance to deliver talks and CPR training sessions in my free time. I have recently collaborated with Resuscitation Council UK on their SCA Right to Recovery initiative.