Can you tell me a little bit about your SCA?

It was Sunday morning when it happened, and I was in church. Prior to that, we had no awareness that there was something wrong with my heart. I had quit basketball a few months before, because I kept almost passing out during sprints – I’d be running the last piece and everything would go black and I’d have to catch my breath. I thought I was just out of shape.

This was three months later, and at the time, as a teenager, I wasn’t really into church. I was messing around, nudging my mom with my elbow, so when I slumped into her and had an SCA, she thought I was still just messing around. One moment I was there – the next I wasn’t. She saw I had gone grey and wasn’t “there” anymore. She screamed for help and they laid me out on a pew. The pastor did a blessing, and right before they performed CPR, they found a pulse. That’s the first recollection I have – I was off, kind of in space somewhere, and I heard the most faint voice, like if it was two football fields away or something … yelling “I have a pulse! I have a pulse!”

After that, I went to the hospital and spent two weeks going through different tests while they figured out what had happened.

How has your SCA affected your life?

After they diagnosed it, the doctor prescribed beta blockers – and no more sports and working out. Beta blockers didn’t work well for me – I was a young, high-energy athlete and they made me feel sluggish. A few months later, one of three specialists in the country at the time moved to where I lived, and I went to see him. He said I needed an ICD right away.

They were very conservative with my treatment at the time. The device helped a lot, because I didn’t have to worry about episodes so much.

What do you want others to know about SCA?

Because it’s so sudden and random, my one takeaway after getting the device is – better safe than sorry. The ICD gives you peace of mind. If you’re faced with a choice, do what you can to prevent yourself from experiencing SCA. It’s also great to see how many more places have AEDs now – back in the day we really had to advocate to get them in schools. It’s great to know that they’re more accessible to help save a life.