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Pretty Lady Chronicles: 392 Beats Per Minute Survivor (Part 2)

Editor's note: This is part 2 of a series. Check out part 1!

How did I survive a heart rate of 392 beats per minute? I believe there’s a combination of two factors. My SCA event was taken over by divine intervention, and advancements in healthcare technology. I am forever grateful for both!

I knew something was wrong

Going back to the events on the morning of October 12, 2016; I remember praying while I was driving and being shocked. “God, please don’t let me die on the side of the highway with my son in the car like this.” I had been shocked 4 or 5 times. That’s not normal. To be shocked repeatedly, I knew something was seriously wrong.

Survivor mode

Paramedics would eventually arrive on the scene. My son and I were then escorted to the back of an ambulance. Yes, they had me walk. After climbing into the back of the ambulance I was connected to a heart monitor. My heart rate gave a reading of 156 bpm. I then asked, “Does that say I’m in afib and v-tach at the same time?” The paramedic looked at me as though she saw a ghost, and replied "Yes!" She then told her partner, “Go, Go, Go!”

Survivor mode kicks in as I’m reminded that my family and friends aren’t aware of what’s taking place. As we made our way to the hospital, I asked the paramedic if I could use her cell phone. I call my mother and oldest son who both live out of state, my partner, and my cousin who lives locally. Then I call my son’s school to let them know he wouldn’t be in attendance.

Just typing this is bringing back a rush of feelings and emotions. Little did I know, I had just survived a traumatic sudden cardiac arrest event. However, being a mother and daughter with family & friends who I know would be impacted took precedence at that moment.

392 bpm survivor

I was wrapping up my calls as I was rushed into the ER. As the first cardiologist walked into the room he commented, “She’s on the phone?” (Lol)... He then began to ask me a series of questions. “You didn’t pass out?” My response, “No.” “You maintained control of the vehicle?” My response, “Yes, I was able to pull over to the left of HOV.” I was starting to understand this is bigger than even I was thinking.

A company representative enters the room to interrogate my defibrillator. I overheard the dialogue he exchanged with my doctor then began my own series of questions. “Did you say I was shocked 8 times?” No, you were shocked 10 times in 1 minute and 39 seconds. This would explain why my son asked, “Why does it keep shocking you?” I was being shocked so much, and so fast I didn’t realize how many shocks I had received.

I then overheard them discussing my heart rate. “Did you say my heart rate was 330?” No, your heart rate was 392!”

LVAD strong

My doctor would further explain that even though I was receiving medications to lower my heart rate I was still hovering around the 150 to 160 range. He also explained that my heart was still NOT pumping on its own. Instead, my heart was pulsating like vibrating. My internal LVAD had essentially taken over the pumping function of my native heart. My LVAD saved my life!

Just like that, my LVAD became my new best friend. Four years post-LVAD implantation, and the transition remained an ongoing process. However, that morning I gained a new appreciation for the advancements in modern medicine that saved my life.

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