Erik McClure

My Mom Had a Heart Attack


She is fine and will make a full recovery.

About 3 weeks ago, on Thursday, May 19th, at approximately 6 PM, my mom went into ventricular fibrillation and collapsed while walking on a nearby trail. She was found by two walkers who called 911 and initiated CPR. After almost a half hour of CPR and 3 defibrillator attempts, she was stabilized and taken to the nearby hospital. She had no identification, so we didn’t know about it until after 2 hours of failed searching, at which point my dad called the local hospital.

As I was taken to see her while in critical condition, we didn’t know if she was going to survive, or if she did, if she would have serious brain damage. A lot of things went through my mind on that car ride, but the one that was the most striking was when I realized that my inability to achieve what I had been trying to do for so long could potentially mean the last thing my mom was mentally capable of processing would be a son who had simply tried to accomplish something. Who had tried very hard, but hadn’t actually managed to do anything of significance. My life was simply a lot of determination, a lot of talk, a lot of failures, and no results. I was still in college, I still didn’t have a company, I didn’t even have a job, and I still hadn’t brought any of my more spectacular ideas to fruition. I was almost 21 years old, my mom had almost died from a heart attack, and I hadn’t actually done anything.

The next day my dad called “just about everyone” to tell them what was going on, which indirectly resulted in me being reunited with one of my old friends. Due to my mom’s condition in the ICU, she had little to no short term memory, and so every day when I went to visit her I would tell her that my best friend from forever ago had visited, and every day (once the breathing tube was removed), she would react with surprise. She was very confused and kept asking about why she was in the hospital. It turns out this was a pretty good question.

They did a CT scan of her chest to see if she had any blockages or other potential threats to her heart, and discovered that her arteries were entirely devoid of plaque buildup, and she appeared to be almost perfect health, aside from the fact that her heart suddenly stopped working for what appeared to be no reason at all. The only connection we could find was that a similar event happened to my grandfather (her father) at almost the same age. While he also passed out, his episode was caused by atrial fibrillation. She has since had a miniature pacemaker of sorts installed that will automatically deliver a defibrillator shock if the event ever occurs again, but it raises questions about whether the condition is hereditary.

If this is some kind of strange genetic disorder, it carries the lovely news that even if I’m in perfect health in 30 years, my heart could get a random bad signal from my brain for absolutely no reason at all and I could keel over and die if no one happens to notice me pass out. Luckily I don’t have to worry about that until I have kids in elementary school.

Thankfully my mom is back home and, aside from some minor lingering medications and precautions, has fully recovered. Unfortunately, I still haven’t done anything.


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