Mark S. is a 64 year-old digital archivist who lives in Boston’s suburbs.
In August of 2011, I regained consciousness in a New Hampshire hospital. My wife and 3 kids told me I had been out for 5 days after suffering an SCA – Sudden Cardiac Arrest – and had slumped down, essentially dead.
A family member began giving me CPR. Then a volunteer fireman neighbor stepped in for the endless 20 minutes it took an ambulance to arrive. A medivac helicopter had been dispatched but had to turn back due to severe weather. In the intervening time until I arrived at the first hospital, my heart was zapped 4 or 5 times – the records aren’t clear. Unquestionably, my heart was trying its best to stop but the doctors wouldn’t let me go.
Mark turning a bowl on a lathe. He came through by just that much.
The first hospital packed me in ice and sent me off to a second hospital by ambulance. My body temperature was brought way down and I was kept in an induced coma with a breathing tube until they eventually brought me back. At that point I received a defibrillator implant. As a result of the SCA, I suffered a minor stroke but the doctors and therapists say my brain should figure out end-arounds for the resulting little problems.
I’m told that 1 out of 10 people with SCA make it to the hospital and 1 out of 10 of those make it out of the emergency room. Of course, many of them have severe brain trauma due to massive strokes. I’m extremely fortunate to have very little brain damage from that very long CPR. After innumerable tests, the doctors are mystified as to the cause of all this. I appear to be a perfectly healthy man for my age who suddenly owes his life to a bunch of people.
I want to report from the other side that I observed no white light, no beckoning shadowy figures, no welcoming ancestors, no agony, no pleasure, no nothing. I simply switched off.
In my mind that certainly settles that endless discussion.