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 about 22,093 such opportunities to live my life differently passed by before my heart stopped pumping during a half marathon.
When I came out of the induced coma in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, even though I’d lost two 2nd chances, due to my forced unconsciousness, the thought of seizing a 2nd chance never occurred to me, just like the other 22,093 times. I was focussed on getting back to my prior life, not looking for a new improved or different life. Don’t ask how that worked out for me. It didn’t. There’s no normal after a cardiac arrest, at least until you decide or become reconciled with what normal is now going to be.
I never questioned why I survived because the answer was obvious: bystanders gave me CPR until medical personnel took over and an ambulance crew restored cardiac rhythm. Instead, my “why me?” was about how I ended up with ventricular fibrillation after being fit and lean, and eating well, for so many years. I wasn’t left with a sense of renewed purpose or meaning, I just wanted to get running again, without fear.
The opportunities for 2nd chances are as endless as time, and our willingness to seize the opportunity. If it takes a traumatic event like a sudden cardiac arrest to challenge how you are living your life, so be it. But you don’t have to wait for that to seize a 2nd chance.