5 Ted talks every SCA survivor should watch

Some of the most helpful and inspiring videos on the web are done by people at Ted talks and over the years a number of them have been posted into the SCA UK Facebook group.  I’ve collated 5 of them for easier reference.

1. Janine Shepard – A broken body isn’t a broken person

It’s easy to feel a bit broken after an SCA and the following talks gives a really powerful message about the human potential for recovery.  Cross-country skier Janine Shepherd hoped for an Olympic medal – until she was hit by a truck during a training bike ride.  Here she shares her powerful story and her message: you are not your body, and giving up old dreams can allow new ones to soar.

2. Ruby Wax – What’s so funny about mental illness

Recovering from an SCA can be a real roller coaster with anxiety, depression and other mental issues being a problem for some survivors.  Ruby Wax is well known in the UK for her shows and comedy but also for her writings on mental health and Mindfulness…

3. Neil Pasricha – The 3 A’s of Awesome

Neil Pasricha is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Equation.  He is the Director of the Institute for Global Happiness and one of the world’s leading authorities on happiness and positivity.

4. Jill Bolte Taylor – My stroke of Insight

Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist who also happened to have a stroke.  She has written an excellent book on how her brain has been affected. There are many similarities between the damage a stroke and an SCA can do and so is well worth watching…

5. Sandrine Thuret – You can grow new brain cells

Many SCA survivors end up with some sort of brain impairment due to hypoxia.  It’s always worth asking whether this can get better.  The question is, can we, as adults, grow new neurons to help repair our brain? Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret says that we can.  She offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains better perform neurogenesis—improving mood, increasing memory formation and preventing the decline associated with aging along the way.

And a bonus video which is a light hearted though quite clever guide to AED use…

My Three months of Occupational Therapy, Part 2

Post by Willem Pretorius

This is the second part of Willem’s occupational therapy (OT) journal and if you missed it you can catch up on part one here.   

Occupational therapy aims to improve your ability to do everyday tasks if you’re having difficulties and this can be encountered by SCA survivors due to the effects (sequelae) of an acquired brain injury – caused by lack of oxygen (hypoxia) during their cardiac arrest.

Depending on your situation you can get OT free on the NHS either via a GP referral or through your local council.

Session 7

Today we start with the second half of my OT sessions..So far it has been very productive and I have enjoyed what I have done – but I have also seen the gaps that I never used to have..

Today I was asked to get a copy of my most recent CV and also a job description.  The aim of the day is to do a bit of planning for when I go back to work to see what I can do and when I do it. I must be honest that the thought of going to work is still very scary after my last experience – but it is also exhilarating as I am so bored with being at home most of the time

We spend some time going through my job description – I think to say that the JD has been poorly done is fair to say. Typical my boss and the company I work for… sigh

I then run Jo through my cv – but try and give her more meat around it as a IT cv takes a bit of understanding..    This all helps her and we write down the daily tasks that I have and the effort involved..  It does really hit home just how crazy my job is and how much demand on my time there used to be..      We both agree that managing me and my company is going to be interesting

Jo says to me that she wants to give me a few tasks to simulate some of the things I would do on a day to day basis..:

Task 1

Create a tracker sheet in Excel to track my teams holidays and sickness leave.  Funny how I cant get my head around a layout that works..   Need to get this brain working….

Task 2

Create a presentation for Jo around kite surfing – which is something I am keen to take up.  She wants me to sell the whole thing to her – pros and cons, costs etc..    This will be interesting for me as this is kind of some of the information I also need for myself.

It is funny how my brain struggles with some of these things now.. I’m not sure if it is because I haven’t worked for 18 months or if it is my BI…

Either way – im going to work on these things tonight

Session 8:

This was a bad week  –  I have had a notification from my company that they are considering my role to be made redundant – this on top of a few other personal things meant that my OT session turned into a opportunity to have a coffee with Jo and have a chat rather than doing the OT related tasks..

It was needed so was a good session in any way.

Session 9:

Today we cracked on with doing the proper OT work again.  As I mentioned in my previous session notes I am now facing the possibility of being made redundant so the focus of the OT session now is towards making me ready for a possible new job and the challenges that come with that vs making me ready for a phased return to work.

The exercise we did today was to test my ability to work and focus in a “office” environment with all the distractions that come with it. Not being in an office obviously made this harder  -but Jo found an inventive way of simulating this:

TV on – watching BBC news

Windows open with all of the noise that comes in from the outside

Jo sending me a random text every now and then with instructions.

Jo then putting some music on her phone to add to the distraction.

The aim of the exercise is for me to watch the TV – make notes of what is being discussed.    Also then act on her texts and do what she instructs me to do (does she not know I’m a man and that multitasking is a challenge as is?)

We do this exercise for about 30 minutes – I must admit to be pretty exhausted after it – but also rather pleased that I was able to do it and be pretty accurate.

Jo then reminds me that I have an outstanding exercise from the previous weeks to show her – my presentation on Kitesurfing. Luckily I have done this and we run through the   presentation.   She gives me some very good feedback and some comments.

Generally a happy bunny after this weeks session and hopeful towards being able to cope with a new job and the challenges that comes with it..

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

A cardiac arrest or when it happens unexpectedly, a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of the UK biggest killers with a extremely low survival rate – on average just 8.6%.  This is in contrast to the condition it is often confused with – myocardial infarction, more commonly known as a heart attack, which has a survival rate up to 80%.  This is a “plumbing” issue where the blood supply is blocked or restricted to the heart, but importantly the heart is still pumping and the patient still conscious and alive.  This is in contrast to a sudden cardiac arrest which is an “electrical” issue which stops the heart from pumping resulting in the person collapsing unconscious and being essentially “dead” – if no immediate action is taken to rectify the situation they will sadly stay that way. More information on the difference can be found here.

According to the Resuscitation Council approximately 30,000 resuscitations are attempted in England each year, with an estimated similar number to far gone to warrant intervention.  This extrapolates to roughly 100,000 a year in the UK, or to put to another way – 250 per day!

A major heart attack can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest and is a significant cause of them, but they have a multitude of other known causes and also unknown causes.

They can occur at any time, any where and to any one – age or fitness is no indicator.  Indeed the Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK peer support group has many people who thought they were fit and healthy prior to their event and it is estimated that 12-15 young people die each week of an SCA.

When a person has Sudden Cardiac Arrest, unless they get immediate attention they are often without oxygen for some time and this can often lead to serious repercussions including brain injury.

If you would like to know more about life after a cardiac arrest you might be interested in reading more on this website or blog or even our Kindle ebook…

If you are on Social Media eg Facebook and you want to help spread awareness please Like, Share and comment on the post for this article and also Like our page.  In addition you can also use the following image for your profile pic…

Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK aims to provide support to those affected by this event and is run totally voluntary and if you would like to help support the group to build on the work it is doing, such as the recent successful Guinness World Record attempt, then please feel free to donate on our Just Giving page

To recap, a cardiac arrest and a heart attack are not the same, and although both are medical emergencies and require 999, the former is considerably more lethal.

You can help by spreading awareness of this simple piece of information and you can also help yourself by ensuring that you and your loved ones know CPR and where you nearest defibrillators are (and if there aren’t any near maybe you can do something about that?)