Pretty Lady Chronicles: 392 Beats Per Minute Survivor (Part 1)
Editor's note: This is part 1 of a series. Check out part 2!
I recently found out that October is recognized as SCA Awareness Month. SCA is also known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the cardiovascular world. Four years ago, I survived a sudden cardiac arrest on October 12, 2016. Needless to say, the significance of SCA Awareness being in October hit home a little different for me.
I’m beyond grateful that I’m here to tell my story. Wow, I’m really here to share my story. Just typing that brings on chills. I survived a heart rate of 392 beats per minute. Yes, you read that right! I’m a 392 BPM Survivor!
The morning started differently
The morning started differently from the very beginning. I woke up with a weird feeling in my upper left shoulder that went into my collar bone. My initial thoughts were that I slept on it wrong. Then I thought maybe my internal defibrillator was irritated for some reason. Either way, the day must go on.
At the time, my teenage son commuted into the city to attend school. This meant we got up and out early so that he could use the local park & ride. As we walked out the door, I noticed my cell phone sitting on the table and grabbed it. Ironically, I didn’t even have cell phone service but I kept a charged phone on me in case I needed to call 911. From almost forgetting the phone to stopping at the atm for cash, each event that morning would become critical to my survival.
While en route to the park & ride I realized I didn’t have any cash on me. I stopped at the atm but would have no luck. Due to overnight processing, I was unable to withdraw any funds at the time. What were the odds of that happening? I told my son, I was gonna have to drive him, which I hardly ever did. I wasn’t able to withdraw funds, but I was able to use my card at the pump for gas. Talk about divine intervention.
While at the pump, my shoulder and now arm still felt off. As my car filled with gas, I stood to the side and did a few arm stretches and rotations. I really just felt like blood wasn’t flowing, or that I just slept on it wrong. With the tank now full we were on our way.
My sudden cardiac arrest event
What I didn’t know is that morning I would survive one of the most traumatic events of my life. As we made our way into downtown Atlanta things continued to shift. I told my son, “Coby, look for the phone. Something isn’t right.” I didn’t feel any palpitations, increased heart rate, or chest pains. I just felt faint. Really like I could just pass out. As my son reached for the phone my body jerked, and I saw a bright white flash.
I’m still driving on the interstate, and traveling with the flow of traffic between 65 and 70 mph. It takes me a quick second, but I shake it off as I question what just happened. Then I realized, my defibrillator just shocked me! “Coby, dial 911!”
Then it happens again, another jolt by my internal defibrillator. I grabbed the phone from my son and began talking to the 911 operator. My name is, (BOOM), I am located on 75N, traveling in HOV, (BOOM), approaching the Grady curve (BOOM). Yes, these BOOMS are additional shocks from my defibrillator while I was talking to 911. I was able to safely pull the vehicle off the road, squeezing along the concrete wall, just to the left of HOV.
During the course of my SCA event, I remember looking around me and noticing no one immediately in front of us, behind us, or in the lane to the right of us. However, all other lanes had heavy traffic. I would later find out that I received ten (10) shocks from my internal defibrillator in 1 minute and 39 seconds; while driving on 75N in downtown Atlanta during the morning rush. "Why does it keep shocking you?” In hindsight, God protected us and everyone around us.
The events of this morning were just beginning. I woke up feeling like my shoulder was asleep, but I had no idea how much my faith would be moved from this day forward.
Do you use exercise to help manage your heart failure?