I got lucky
It’s been weighing heavily on my mind, what happened two weeks ago. I haven’t really known what to say about it. When people ask me I would answer very clinically, and the second they say, “Oh wow, you saved his life,” I’d look down at the floor and avoid making eye contact.
Audrey had been having a very rough time with, what now has been diagnosed as, asthma. The night before I had spent it at the Children’s ER until just before 2 am. When we got there, and waited in chairs for about 15 minutes, she was starting to have muffled speech, and so I went to the triage nurse who immediately brought us back into the trauma section of the ER, where she then got hour after hour of breathing treatments, which lead her to vomit all over herself, then cry because her hair was wet and messy, then cry because she had to keep the mask on after we got her cleaned, then cry because she was so tired. We couldn’t get her oxygen level to stay above 92% without the use of an oxygen mask, and frankly, it was scary.
But the whole car ride home, at 1:45 am, she was chatting all the way, wide eyed and commenting on the fact that the sun wasn’t very bright (it was the moon) and she couldn’t believe all the planes in the sky (stars.) I was exhausted, but knew I had to be up in the morning to get the kids ready for school and teach my regular 9 am BodyPump class, plus I was filling in for another instructor who taught a 30 minute class prior to mine at 8:30.
When I got to the gym, I was chatting with a member in the parking lot on our way in the building, when a tall, older man burst through the doors and asked if I was a nurse.
“Yes, I am, wh-…”
“We need you right away. By the racketball courts. RUN!”
In the five seconds it took me to get there, I thought to myself, I hope that this is something I can make a quick decision on. Because, let’s get real here. There have been times when someone falls and hurts themselves, and it’s not necessarily an emergency. But when I got there, a member that I’m very, very fond of, was laying on the ground in a small puddle of blood, and he was dead.
Now trust me when I say, I don’t want to be dramatic, but all my nursing education backed me up here. No heartbeat. No breathing. No spontaneous movements. Nothing. I immediately started CPR, and began apologizing for the ribs I cracked. I remember my nursing instructor telling me that good CPR breaks ribs. Another guy there got the defibrillator and while I worked on him, he was able to attach the pads and we were then advised that he needed to be shocked.
This went on, for what felt like an eternity, and three rounds of CPR and two shocks total, he was awake and confused – but he was talking.
Now, working at a gym like this one, well, we’re a small town if you will. Everyone knows everyone. So when I had come back to teach again at 5, I was being stopped left and right, or pointed at from afar and whispered about. It was incredibly overwhelming. I had made a facebook post a few hours after it happened, because that was the only way, in that moment, that I could process it. I wanted everyone to know that being CPR certified isn’t a joke. That it is vital and necessary and you never know when you may need to use it.
But then I was being called a hero. Just today a man whom I have seen at the gym for years, yet we’ve never spoken, stopped me after I taught and said, “You saved his life. If you weren’t here, he’d have been dead,” but all I could do was look down at the ground and mumble thank you.
I’m not a hero. I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, and I got lucky. The hero is the defibrillator, as he was later found to have an arrhythmia.
And today, two weeks after the incident, he came by the gym to show me that he’s alive and well, and he brought donuts. All I’ve thought about for the past two weeks was him and how he was doing. And today, seeing him standing on his own and looking tall, I couldn’t help but hug him twice. He is one of my very favorite people and he owes me nothing.
But that donut was delicious.