Tore Maagaard: Min Norsk Venn

It was a sunny warm day in August 2019, and we were on our front porch finishing lunch when a tall lanky man strode up our path. With his subtle Norwegian accent, he explained he had read about our recent visit to my great grandfather’s former farm in Alvdal in a digital Norwegian newspaper. He … [Read more…]

Recovered Memories

Ted Guloien It was a crisp and sunny Sunday autumn morning at the start line. We woke up early and drove 72 kilometres from home for this race. I could see my breath and that of the other anxious runners. I was wearing my blue 2010 Boston Marathon long-sleeved shirt that I’d earned 3 years … [Read more…]

Kim’s Poem

What is it that you like most about the floor, Kim, That makes you want to lie on it all day? What do you dream of there on the cold floor, wheezing? Why don’t you go outside and play in the snow, freezing? I let you in. They let you out. I let you in. … [Read more…]

The Angina of Memory: Finding Posey

My first memory is of sitting in my father’s lap, my hands gripping the steering wheel of the car under my father’s, as we hurtled down the middle of a narrow road bordered by advancing trees on both sides. I know now that we were driving on the infrequently used back road to the CIL … [Read more…]

Isn’t It Time We Talked About Hyperchondriasis?

Ted Guloien “A fully committed runner will follow treatment for any problem provided it does not have as its goal cessation of running.” Dr. Lowell D. Lutter, 1984 You probably already know the term “hypochondriac”. It describes a person who has excessive anxiety related to their persistent concern that they are ill, even in the … [Read more…]

Expertise by Opinion

The patient as expert or, as the Mayo Clinic has taken to label it, “experts by experience”, is a step onto a slippery slope. While empowering the patient is important, in this age of the democratization of expertise where anyone with an opinion or access to Google is suddenly an expert in their own mind, … [Read more…]

2nd Chances

Prior to my cardiac arrest, each day I woke was a 2nd chance to live my life differently from how I had before awakening. Like everyone, there was no guarantee I would see the next day — accidents, contagions and pandemics, misadventure, faulty genetics, and disease can strike anyone anytime. Yet I did. I figure … [Read more…]

Coping With Trauma

The surprise of a sudden cardiac arrest can challenge what we believe about how the world works. If you believe in a universe guided by the laws of physics and the randomness of quantum mechanics, there may be very little discordance between your beliefs and what happened to you. If, however, you believe in a … [Read more…]

Out-of-Body Experience? You’re Not Alone.

While most survivors of a sudden cardiac arrest remember nothing about their experience, some survivors report detaching from their body and viewing themselves and their surroundings from that external perspective, often from above. This is commonly referred to as an out-of-body experience. Some SCA survivors are reluctant to share their experience, for fear of judgment … [Read more…]

We Can Be Heroes

What is it about surviving a sudden cardiac arrest makes us feel special? I felt pretty special after those early confusing weeks passed. On the compost heap of feelings and emotions I was experiencing at the time, this was the most puzzling. It wasn’t as if surviving the arrest was like swimming to shore through … [Read more…]

Sudoku

I took up doing Sudoku puzzles after my sudden cardiac arrest. With too much time on my hands, yet constrained by an inability to maintain focus any longer than it takes to brush a tooth, it seemed a better option than the frustration involved in trying to read a book. I was wrong. You’ve probably … [Read more…]

Plumbing or Electrical: What Caused Your SCA?

Surely no one would mistake a clogged laundry room sink with not having lights or power in the laundry room. Similarly, a heart attack is like a plumbing problem and a cardiac arrest an electrical problem. Simple, right? Not really. Under certain conditions, having a plugged laundry room sink drain can result in a power … [Read more…]

Running on Borrowed Time

Running on Borrowed Time A Cautionary Tale Ted Guloien A fully committed runner will follow treatment for any problem provided it does not have as its goal cessation of running. Dr. Lowell D. Lutter, 1984 With hindsight, he knew the genesis of what happened likely began much earlier, perhaps in his childhood and certainly by … [Read more…]

My Crinoids and I

On my old library desk at home, I have a heavy piece of Lockport dolostone that I carried back from one of the hikes with the children, years ago. The surface of this slab of dolomite is covered with the twisted and fossilized bodies of crinoids, a prehistoric animal that lived in the inland sea … [Read more…]

Is One Kind of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Better Than Another?

All sudden cardiac arrests are caused by some preceding disease, disorder, or circumstance, examples of each include atherosclerosis, Brugada syndrome and drug overdose, respectively. For some sudden cardiac arrests, the exact cause is a mystery, due to the current limitations of medical science and forensics, and the lag in time between when the event occurred … [Read more…]

Death is a dimmer switch

The effectiveness of CPR changed our conception of when death occurs and what it entails. People facing sudden cardiac death were suddenly now surviving. Death, it turns out, is not turning off the light. Death is using the dimmer. It is a progressive phenomenon with decreasing possibilities for recovery, without proper intervention. With my heart … [Read more…]

Experts by Experience

This was a note I wrote in response to a Mayo Clinic initiative called “Experts by Experience” which involved collecting patient stories. It was posted on April 27, 2019. While I heartily applaud this initiative, I take exception to the title “Experts by Experience”. Empowering the patient is important yet, in this age of the … [Read more…]

Beta Blockers Block

After attacking a particularly steep hill or finishing a high-speed sprint on our bikes, we often ask each other: “What’s your heart rate?”. It’s really a comparative performance question about who’s in better cardiovascular shape. Invariably, when I answer, the common retort is something like “Yah, but you’re on beta blockers”, as if this medication … [Read more…]

Mr Woodard Died

Mr. Woodard died. I was skimming the obituaries in the digital newspaper and recognized his photograph among the many, even though I hadn’t seen him in 53 years. His obituary reported that his death in a hospital in Mazatlan, Mexico was NOT the result of the SARS-CoV2 virus. His obituary also declared him a life-long … [Read more…]

Survivorship Bias

Survivorship Bias and the Search for Meaning Given the low probability of surviving an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest, who wouldn’t feel somehow special to survive? Yet, as survivors, we tend to overlook the broader perspective of sudden cardiac death as we focus on our specialness. Turns out this is a cognitive bias that’s been labelled … [Read more…]

Observations of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor

or What I Wish I’d Been Told When I Was Discharged Introduction So, you had a sudden cardiac arrest. If you can read this, you are incredibly fortunate. Many survivors have difficulties concentrating, as well as remembering, after their sudden cardiac arrest. That makes reading difficult. If you are having trouble reading this, be patient. … [Read more…]

Photographic Memories

When I was a teenager, one of my best friends shared the story of how his father pulled their car to the side of the road, getting out to capture the carnage from an automobile accident with his Super 8 camera. Robin, my friend, was outraged by his father’s behavior. I failed to understand why … [Read more…]