I am strong. I am resilient. I am determined. I am thankful. I am fierce. I am compassionate. I am a SURVIOR.
The story I am about to tell was told to me by my family. I don’t remember any of it. I just remember waking up alive.
July 1st I went for a swim in Lake Ripley, the lake I grew up on in Cambridge, WI. My plan that morning was going to swim across the lake as I was training for another triathlon, a recent sport I fell in love with. My dad, sister, brother in law were going to trail me in my dads boat. About 5 minutes into the swim I asked for help. As my dad threw me a floatation device and I didn’t’ reach for it, he knew I was in trouble. My BRAVE sister quickly dove in to get me. She got to me when I whispered the words “breathe” twice before I went limp. My dad used his super powers along with my brother in law and pulled my lifeless body into the boat, palpating for a pulse but was unable to locate one. My dad, my hero, knew CPR…so he IMMEDIATLY started compressing on my/his daughters chest, pumping oxygenated blood through my body. He also gave me life saving breaths between compressing my chest. My sister drove the boat quickly back to shore while screaming to call 911.
Two phone calls were made, one by my husband Mike, who was on the dock fishing with my 5 year old son, the other by my brother in law Kelly. My parents neighbor heard the call, as he is a first responder with the Cambridge EMS, and ran down to the lake to help. The local boat police also arrived quickly. With this team of first responders and my family, they continued to give by lifeless body CPR and oxygen filled breaths.
Approximately 10-15 minutes later, the Cambridge Area EMS arrived and took over. They hooked me up to the manual chest compression device called the LUCAS, placed me on a backboard and carried me up the steep stairs to land. It was then they placed a defibrillator and shocked me out of ventricular fibrillation into a normal rhythm. I still was unaware of any of this.
I was brought to St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI and placed on life support while my body was put into hypothermia to preserve/heal my brain function. No one knew what to expect when I woke up. Approximately 36 hours later I started to wake defeating the odds and boy was I mad (so they tell me).
I was back. I was okay. I was strong. I was determined. I was fighting. I was a SURVIVOR.
My first memory was waking up and was so mad and FREEZING. My next memory was being alive and okay. I somehow remembered what happened, probably because I asked my family a million times, and was ready to start my life up again. I felt really good, except for a very sore chest and back. I asked when I could start training again…I was told to HOLD ON!!
I had amazing care in Madison and can’t thank them enough. So far my heart tests came back perfect; they suspect an electrical misfiring. I had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) with pacemaker placed on July 6th. I am awaiting my genetic testing to come back for further pieces to this puzzle.
So far, I have done everything my physicians and family have told me to do, trying to push every boundary to get back to who I once was. Until I realized, I will never be that person. I am stronger now, I am more patient, I am part robot, I am even more determined and the fire inside me burns even stronger. I love the new me.
As a result of this experience, I want to shine a light and give back to my army of life savers placed path to respond to me July 1. I want my story and the quick action of my heroes trained in life support to be an example that saves another life. I want EVERYONE to know how to do CPR and use an AED. I want everyone to be CONFIDENT they can perform this lifesaving act. I want lives saved. I want more SURVIVORS. Surrounding yourself with friends and family trained in basic life support (BLS) needs to be trending and celebrated!
Please join me in Phase I of my newfound mission as we raise money for my Cambridge EMS heroes. Last year I was the top female finisher in my age group for Cambridge’s annual Cannonball Run. Proceeds from the 2016 race allowed the EMS department purchased the LUCAS machine used in my rescue. The Cambridge Area EMS has sophisticated planned upgrades and with your support, this thankful girl wants to impact this list lifesaving purchases. Will you join me in this effort?
BE BRAVE. LEARN CPR. SAVE A LIFE.