I staggered into the bathroom and got violently ill. (From this point forward, I’m going to omit the more graphic details of my body’s responses.)
Even though it felt like my upper back was going to implode, there was very little pain in my chest so my wife Lauren and I briefly believed that maybe I had food poisoning. Soon, though, the chest pain did begin and Lauren immediately called 911.
Crumpled on the floor of my bathroom, I remember thinking that I just needed to hold on until the first responders arrived. Within a few short minutes, four firemen raced in. When the first one reached me, I fell into his arms and passed out.
The next few hours are a blur in my own memory but, unfortunately, my beloved wife saw everything in horrific detail.
As soon as I fell into the fireman’s arms, I died.
The heroic first responders found no pulse and immediately began CPR while they hooked me up to a defibrillator. When CPR failed to revive me, they shocked my heart back to life while my wife stood but a few feet away watching my naked, lifeless body bouncing off the cold tile floor as the defibrillator resuscitated me.
I remember hearing the fireman’s voice calling me. I heard him and wanted to talk but the words didn’t come right away. Finally, I said that I heard him.
Then I died again. No pulse. No heartbeat.
And again they brought me back.
Shielding my wonderful fifteen year old stepson Carter from seeing what she had just witnessed, Lauren grabbed Carter in a tight embrace, hearing the firemen cajoling me to come back once again. The fact that Lauren had to witness (and Carter had to hear) the violence of that night will always be my single greatest regret.
By then, the EMTS had arrived and somehow I was carried quickly out into the night and into the ambulance. The last thing I saw was my brave wife’s beautiful face as she told me that she loved me and would meet us at the hospital.
I later learned that I died again in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
My next memory is hearing the soothing voice of a doctor right next to me.
“Stephen, can you hear me?”
“You’ve had a heart attack and you’re in the hospital. You have some blockages in two arteries so we’re getting you into surgery right away.”
He then patted my arm and told me to hang on.
Then my Lauren appeared seemingly out of nowhere right next to the doctor and grabbed my hands.
“Honey, look at me”, she said.
When I looked into her eyes, she said “I love you. Please hold on.”
Smiling as they wheeled me away, I promised her that I would be okay…not yet knowing that I was about to die again.
(To Be Continued)