The Day My Heart Stopped

My name is Deji. 2 weeks ago, my heart stopped.

So I haven’t had it in me to write for a while now. Lost someone I have known since I was a kid and it really affected me in ways I never knew was possible. We weren’t particularly close but his death really touched me. I still struggle a bit but things are way better now – I guess that is the acceptance stage? Knowing he lived a good life, loved God with all his heart and touched many lives kind of gives me a feeling of “yes! Though gone way too soon, he made it in life”. So today, I have dedicated this post to him and have titled it “The day my heart stopped”.

I had this feeling that I needed to write about why he died and maybe someone could learn a thing or two from It. This post is not to help you understand what you need to do prevent a cardiac arrest or give all manner of health advice (I am not a doctor and don’t feel I should go gather medical information and store them here. Where necessary, I will definitely give you pointers plus there are a million articles out there that can provide you with that information). This is to honour a friend and to reach out to those hurting. And of course, in my usual style, I won’t mention real names. I will refer to him as Deji.

    My name is Deji and 2 weeks ago, I heart stopped.
    I had just returned from work when I slumped and died. Nigerians in their normal way of thinking, suspect it was a spiritual attack. I am too educated for that rubbish. I died of sudden cardiac arrest. I was alone so of course, I got no help. If only…. Before now, I never had any health issues or scares. I lived a quiet life.
    No fast life of partying, girls, sex, drugs or alcohol. To be honest, I loved God and the gift of life he bestowed upon me. So who was I to complain the day God came to take me home. I watch my family weep. I watch them in pain. I just wish they could understand that God was protecting me from the evil that was to come and that I am chilling in perfect peace (Isaiah 57:1-2). If only they knew.
    I listened to their tributes and realised I touched many lives and have now left so many hearts broken – if only I could turn back the hands of time… I miss my family so bad – it hurts.
    I watched them bury me – saw the pain in my brothers as they tried really hard to be strong. My friends cried uncontrollably. Some were even angry that I left them too soon. I am so sorry, I had no choice but I need you to know that I am resting well, no more pain, no more worries so stop crying and asking God why he allowed this to happen. The truth is yes God could have kept me safe and alive but he chose not to and that is absolutely fine. He gave me life and it was his to take. I lived a good life. I am proud of myself.

Sudden cardiac arrest? What’s with the Sudden?

Many of you know I don’t like to get scientific as that introduces jargons that just confuses people. I love to keep things simple so I am just going to give you the basics and send you off to read up stuff yourself.

My first aid knowledge is that Cardiac arrest happens when there is irregular rhythms of the heart which leads to the heart not functioning as it should then of course loss of flow of blood to the brain and eventually death if not treated within minutes. Many people don’t survive cardiac arrest. To really explain what this is, I went to my trusted WebMD and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institiute.

WebMD describes it as sudden unexpected death caused by loss of heart function. According to WebMD,

“Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical system to the heart malfunctions and suddenly becomes very irregular. The heart beats dangerously fast. The ventricles may flutter or quiver and blood is not delivered to the body. In the first few minutes, the greatest concern is that blood flow to the brain will be reduced so drastically that a person will lose consciousness. Death follows unless emergency treatment is begun immediately”

In my AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training, I was made to believe that if a cardiac arrest occurs with someone around, there is a likelihood of surviving the attack if they are given CPR and better if an AED is used to send electric shocks to the chest and hopefully get the heart beating again. Deji was alone and never got the chance to have CPR done on him. If only…. Plus of course people don’t keep AEDs at home. They are usually at workplaces or in public places in developed countries.

CPR? Well that’s topic for another day. But let me just say it is a very manual and tasking technique where you press the chest and breath into the victims airways to keep oxygen and blood flowing to the brain. Without oxygen and blood flowing to the brain, one could be dead within minutes.

AED? Check out a previous post written by a guest for us.

Please and please, if you are not first aid trained, don’t waste any more time. Go get trained and help save lives! A simple CPR could have saved Deji.

If so sudden, are there any symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Well yes but not all the time. The most common is a fast heartbeat or feeling dizzy which usually alerts victims that there is a problem. In some cases, people panic and don’t do anything about them, willing the symptoms to just go away so they can get on with their life. I do that alot when I see malaria symptoms, I am thinking hell no. I don’t need this. Did Deji see any symptoms? Did he will it to go away? Or was it so sudden he had not time to seek medical help?

Hmmm. So yes we lost someone to cardiac arrest be it sudden or not. He was so young and full of life. I had seen him in the morning the day he died and we even greeted each other even though there was a bit of physical distance between us. He always greeted. So it was a really rude shock learning he had died hours after we said hello. Was he in an accident? Was he poisoned? I asked. No he wasn’t. He slumped and died.

With the little knowledge I have, I suspected it was a cardiac arrest. I haven’t cried this much in a long time. I have cried uncontrollably to the point that my eyes and head ached badly. I tried to control myself and stop the tears from falling but it just kept coming. The pain was unbelievable. Yes from time to time I think about him and wonder why. But I am consoled by the fact that he is resting in peace and God took him to protect him. From what though? We might never know. That’s life.

R.I.P Dear Friend, Brother and Son.

Have you survived a cardiac arrest? What do you do to keep healthy and prevent a reoccurence? Have you lost a loved one to cardiac arrest? Was he/she young? I hope this piece helps you find some peace. And of course, you do know the pain will eventually get less? Yes it will.

#BeHSEWise