Friday, May 10, 2013

My Story

Next Tuesday will be one year. 365 days of amazing life. I should be dead right now, but God chose to bring me back in a miraculous way. This is my story.

On Monday, May 14, 2012 I collapsed on the floor in my home suddenly and without warning. My two young girls (ages 6 and 8) were home, but they did not know what was going on and wondered if I was just resting. My husband walked in the door after coming home from work to find me dead on the floor. I was without heartbeat or breath. My eyes were open, and I had turned a bluish shade of purple. Dinner was burning on the stove. He was completely certain he had lost me, and frantically dialed 911 while performing CPR. After a several minutes, a Fire/Rescue volunteer arrived and took over conducting CPR. My husband brought my two girls out to the garage to remove them from the situation, and the three of them began praying hard for a miracle. While they were praying in the garage, other paramedics arrived and eventually shocked me once with a defibrillator. They miraculously got back a heartbeat, and I was whisked away in the ambulance. My stepmother took the girls back to her house as my father and husband raced to the hospital.

In the ambulance I responded to the paramedics with eye blinks. They were able to “talk me through intubation” without the aid of sedatives while I was conscious, which the paramedic mentioned was unheard of. The ER nurse also relayed this same story and also stated it was amazing and unheard of because of how unnatural it is to have a tube inserted. Without sedatives, there would be a gag reflex or rejection of the tube. Somehow the paramedics were able to accomplish this, and everyone was amazed. When we relayed this whole story several months later to my cousin who is a nurse, she was shocked and declared that it was a miracle. 

When my husband and father got to the hospital, the ER doctor stated that my vitals were stabilized, but they were very concerned about brain damage. Based on the condition of the burned dinner on the stove and several other factors, it was estimated that I had been without oxygen or a heartbeat for somewhere between 6-8 minutes, and brain damage can occur after only 2-4 minutes. The doctors were extremely concerned about this, but the ER doctor told my husband that he was already praying for me and for God to intervene. 

Many of our friends and family were told what was happening, and those who were local descended on the ER waiting room. My mother and two of my friends hopped a flight from New England to get down here, my sister flew in from California, and my aunt and uncle drove up from Florida. News of my collapse spread like wildfire on social media, by phone, by email, and by word of mouth. People all over the community, the country, and even in many different countries began praying for a miracle. My family has reported that they’ve never seen anything like it before. Many thousands of people were reported as praying for me. An entire women’s conference paused their meeting to stop and pray for me. People called all their friends who dropped what they were doing to pray. Many networks of people that we are plugged in to around the country began praying. Popular bloggers posted urgent pleas to begin praying.  A year later, I am still running into complete strangers in my community and on social media who say to me, “I know you! I prayed for you!” It was a stunning outpouring that I still haven’t been able to wrap my mind around.

The doctor decided to cover me in a hyperbaric blanket for 36 hours to lower my body temperature to 92°F. The attending nurse explained to my husband that some studies had proven that reducing a person’s core body temperature after suffering trauma can help with the brain’s recovery; all the bodily systems move slower, don’t have to work as hard, and require less oxygen when the body is colder. They hooked me up to a ventilator to assist my breathing and eased me into a drug induced coma to try to help my body recover.

The 3 doctors assigned to my care gave my family a breakdown of their working theory of what had happened to me. They believed I had a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome. Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is an electrical heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, the heart may beat erratically for so long that it can cause sudden death. A person can be born with a genetic mutation that puts them at risk of long QT syndrome. The doctors believed my heart had gotten out of rhythm long enough and then misfired, hovered at an unsustainable 400 beats a minute, and suddenly gave out and stopped. Based on what had occurred, and what they know of this condition, they said it was a miracle I was still alive at that point, because I only had a 2% chance of survival. My heart doctor told me later that when he went home very late at night, he woke his wife out of bed to tell her about his patient who had inexplicably survived sudden death.

The plan for Tuesday and Wednesday was to keep me in the coma and gradually increase my body temperature while slowly weaning me off the sedative that would have kept me in the coma for 36 hours. They estimated it would take at least 12 hours for the sedative to leave my system. Then they could assess the extent of brain damage and whether I would even wake up at all. The plan was to begin this process Wednesday morning, and everyone involved urged my husband to go home and get some sleep, because nothing would happen until the next day.

When my husband woke up Wednesday morning, he called the hospital around 5:30am to check on me and let them know he was driving back over. The nurse told him that they were not sure how it was happening (since I was still heavily medicated with the coma sedatives), but I was waking up on my own despite the drugs that were meant to keep me in the coma. I was opening my eyes and responding to commands to squeeze the nurse’s hand and wiggle my toes. My husband rushed to the hospital.

The next hour was what my family describes as a miracle unfolding before their eyes. The medical staff wasn’t quite sure what to do with my unexplained awakening, so they started weaning me off the sedatives and decided to keep me intubated but take me off the ventilator. If I could breathe on my own for 60 minutes, they would remove the tubes. But I became so alert and able to breathe on my own within 10 minutes, they gave up and removed the tubes. Everyone was stunned by this miracle. Even though my brain had gone for much longer without oxygen than should be possible without serious damage to vital organs – sedatives couldn’t keep me asleep and breathing machines were almost immediately unnecessary. My ER doctor was not on duty that day, but he was called and told about what happened. He immediately called my husband and told him that it was a miracle, and that he was amazed and so happy for our family.

Over the course of the next days, they assessed that I had sustained ZERO brain damage. They implanted a cardiac pacemaker/defibrillator to ensure this would never happen again, and by Saturday, May 19th I was released from the hospital and headed home with no complications whatsoever (other than temporary short term memory loss caused by the sedatives).  To this day, I have no complications from the event other than that I have no memory of the day it happened and very little memory of the week in the hospital and the first week back home. 

I am a completely restored person, and I have treated every day for the last year as a gift to be lived to the fullest. I know that God has brought me back from death for a reason, and I choose to live each day with a passion to show His love to other people. Many people were amazed and rejoiced at this miracle a year ago, but as is the case with any amazing event, life has to go on. Our friends and family have returned to everyday life, and we talk about it less and less. But for me, it was life altering and changed the way I view and approach life. In my mind, every day that I am here is a day that I shouldn’t have been here. With a 2% chance of survival, the statistics show that I should be dead. So every day truly is a gift and an opportunity for me. I embrace life… even in the complications and messiness and struggle that is part of life… and I love every moment here on this earth.

Next week, on the one year anniversary of this event, I am setting out to honor the Fire rescue and EMT crew as well as the amazing doctors and nurses in the ER and ICU who gave me extraordinary professional care. We will thank them one by one and deliver thank you notes and heart shaped cookies and express our gratitude for the incredible work they did and to let them know that we will never forget the role they played. I also plan to show them a small album of pictures of what has been going on in our family this past year to show them what they have made possible. I think many people in the medical community only see the crisis and do not get the privilege of seeing the outcome of all their hard work after their patient leaves the hospital. I intend to show them and thank them for the past 365 days they helped to give me.

I intend to follow this up with 3 more blogs as we approach the one year anniversary on May 14. The first one will be about the impact this has had on my family and my children, and how God has used this for His glory. The second will be a recap of the amazing year I have had the privilege to experience! The third will have pictures of our big thank you celebration with the medical community next week!  I hope you will follow along my little blogging mini-series the next few days :-)


  1. I am reading this in tears. I have thought of you so often in the past year. But you have literally consumed my thoughts since yesterday. A close friend of mine collapsed yesterday. Cardiac arrest. His friend administered CPR and he made it to the hospital alive. He too was put into a coma. Today, his wife updated that he is getting a heart pump because his other organs are showing signs of failure. My constant prayer to God has been please save him like you saved Katie. Please let him be another miracle. I'm so happy i saw this post. And I'm beyond happy that your recovery was a complete success. God bless you!

  2. Katie, My name is Joey, I do not know you and you do not know me. But, I am sitting here reading your story that is eerily similar to my wife's story. Almost 3 years ago now, on August 29, 2010 I heard her makeing a strange noise upstairs, later to find out it was agonal breathing or her dying breath. She too experienced sudden cardiac death. She was put on the artic protocol just like you and coded a total of 6 times in 3 days. They also expected severe brain damage. She was even put at the top of the list for a heart transplant as her heart was so damaged. By God's amazing healing power, she came out of her coma and it bacame evident that she had no brain damage at all. Even the doctors who told us that they did not believe in God, prolaimed they had just witnessed a miracle! I am sure my wife would love to talk to you at some point, it might be strange but I am going to leave my email address here,