Friday morning, February 26
As usual we woke up at around 8am and started our morning exercises.
I opened my eyes, looked around.
I am in a hospital bed. Plugged into some machines, tubes attached to my body.
Anna, my wife standing at my bed.
I am having a hard time remembering, but Anna told me that in our bedroom while doing exercises I dropped on the floor, my heart stopped.
The whole hospital reality seemed like a bad dream, or more accurate, like my twin in an alternate reality.
I could see familiar faces, friends and relatives in the room.
Nurses constantly coming, doing something with the equipment, checking my blood pressure.
I know I was talking to visitors, nurses and doctors. But all this seems so distant, unreal and foggy.
I remember looking through large windows, the road, cars passing by – all this surreal, distant, foreign.
Every time I would open my eyes, I saw Anna in the room. That helped me to cope, to stay in this reality.
Nights were worse because it was dark, Anna would try to sleep on the couch in the room. Machines were humming and clicking on the sides of my bed. I could not turn on my bed being hooked up to these machines. Nurses would come in every couple of hours doing something around me.
Plus I had hiccups that would not stop. Nurses gave me some medicine and that helped a little.
Because of the catheter, that I don’t remember, I needed to pee pretty often and Anna would bring the dish (don’t know the name) and I did my best.
As days went by I started to feel more real and alert and Anna told me what had happened.
Not all of it. (I don’t want to know the details). Just that I dropped dead in the bedroom and she called the ambulance and did CPR while waiting for the paramedics.
My wife, My Anna saved my life.
Anna told me that the ambulance came in five minutes. First the paramedics used a defibrillator while I was on the floor in my bedroom. They did CPR in the car and used the defibrillator for ten minutes till they got to the emergency room.
My heart started to beat in the hospital. All together my heart did not work for twenty minutes.
After 4 days in intensive care I was transferred to a regular hospital room.
After a couple of days in that general room I was allowed to take walks in the corridor with the nurse.
That helped me to feel a little better.
There was a TV in the room. I remember watching it, half dreaming. The sound was off and I sometimes was not sure what I was watching. But it helped the time go faster. It has been a strange mix of dreams and reality. For me the whole affair is still not totally real.
To think that me being alive is just a lucky coincidence, makes me think of how the world would look without me. And I know that the world would not change.
And the fact that I am alive is close to a miracle. If at that time Anna had not been in the same room, or paramedics had arrived five minutes later, I would be dead – permanently.
So is there a reason for me having a second chance? What is my task? What do I have to accomplish?
What crossed my mind is maybe I had died and I am now in a parallel universe. So I was looking for some slight differences in what I see around me but did not see any.
What is strange is, the doctors don’t know why my heart stopped. Two weeks prior I had an annual checkup and it did not show any problems.
After a week in the regular hospital room my cardiologists came in the room and told us that I could go home. So with Anna’s help I got dressed and we walked outside to the car. While I was riding home I looked around – I did not recognize the surroundings.
I forgot to mention that I do not remember anything about being in the IC room. Later I read that if the brain starts to die, short term memory goes first.
But I am glad that I am back home. I was still weak but being at home helped.
But there was another problem – my fear of sleep. Was that anxiety or my subconscious memory of the ICU room? The first week I slept on the couch, half sitting up. I was terrified of lying down, of a dark room.
So every evening I was in a panic at the thought of going to bed.
But it is getting better. Finally I was able to stay in my bed all night. The dimmed light in the bedroom was on.
And I was laid my upper body high on two pillows. Still sometimes I would wake up and have an anxiety attack. I had to get up and walk around for a few minutes before I was able to go back to bed.
My doctor suggested Tylenol PM in the evening and I think it helped. Little by little I started to sleep better. I still need some light in the bedroom but hopefully that will pass.
I feel my pacemaker in my chest. I was told it will take some time to adjust.
I cannot say enough about people around me. My family, friends and relatives from all over the world. My older daughter Inna e-mailed updates to everybody.
My attitude changed somewhat. It is hard for me to do any long-term planning. But I realize that for all of us the future is unknown. And we all have to live with that.
So, my friends, hopefully my life will get back to normal. But I will never be the same. I was on the other side.