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HealthIamA 29yo who has 'died' and been brought back to life NINE times AMA!

Mar 27th 2018 by GenericBox • 16 Questions • 59 Points

My short bio: When I was 20 I had my first out-of-hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest, which means my heart just suddenly went into an arrhythmia and stopped beating. I needed 45 minutes of CPR and was in a coma for a week. I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. In the last 8 years, I've had a further 8 sudden cardiac arrests -- resulting in my heart stopping / 'dying' 9 times in total.

My Proof: edit: sorry first AMA didn't know what proof I needed, here is my holding the paper today with my article.

Me holding the Daily Express

Daily Express Article Photo

Daily Express Article

MyHeart.org.uk Blog 1 (I have died again since I wrote this)

MyHeart.org.uk Blog 2

Q:

Firstly I would like you say you're a warrior. Please continue to showcase your resilience.

Question: how has your many deaths affected you in daily life? (Besides physically)

A:

I definitely experienced some psychological side-effects. I once sought out a counsellor who said it is natural for me to have PTSD from the events. Mostly this manifests in a mild paranoia and the 24/7 "listening" to my Heart. Every little bump, flutter, twinge, anything, can set me in a panic mode that I am about to die again. On bad days, I sometimes feel like every step is a risk. I don't really have full blown panic attacks -- but it usually makes me just stop in the middle of the street/path/wherever. I often pretend to look at my phone to make it seem to others that I'm not crazy haha. So if you ever see a guy in London stop and look at a blank phone for no reason, might be me.


Q:

What was the first thing you did after coming back to life that you kept putting off before you died?

A:

This is probably bad and I hope my cardiologist isn't reading but I went straight to McDonald's!! The night before my last 'death' I had a cheap pre-made salad from the super-market, water, and some cheap sushi. I told myself that if I'm ever going to have a "last meal" again, it isn't going to be some bad-tasting cheap salad.


Q:

it isn't going to be some bad-tasting cheap salad.

and you still chose McDonalds?

A:

Haha hey I know some people rag on McDonald's but in the UK at least, it's not good for you but it sure is tasty lol. I am a cheap date.


Q:

Alright Jamie, thanks for coming in to talk to us, you're an absolute trooper.

If you remember, what would you say was the most painful parts throughout all the cardiac arrests, both physically speaking, and/or emotional? Cheeky p.s. Was there anything in particular that doctors did that made your overall experience significantly better?

A:

Physically speaking it's the defibrillation. I forgot the exact science behind it but it is a very powerful (relatively I think) electrocution of my heart lol. It's a massive thud/kick in the chest, I lose my breath, it goes up the side of my neck and I taste "metal" in my mouth. But it only lasts a few seconds.

Emotionally its the "8 seconds of dying" -- 8 seconds or so that I know I'm in VT headed for VF and waiting for my defibrillator to charge up. It's a completely hopeless / dread feeling as I know there is nothing I can do to stop it.

I take like 6 medications a day now so I think they think that is helping (even though I still have cardiac arrests over the years). I had a Doctor walk in on me once in ER and saw me smiling/joking with a colleague after I died in the office and he said "You didn't have a cardiac arrest, if you did, you wouldn't be smiling". After running tests he came back later and said: "Turns out you did have a cardiac arrest". I was like "told you so XD"... Also, my latest advice from the Doc is to NOT exercise ---- probably the best advice I've ever heard a doctor give :D


Q:

"What doesn't kill you make you stronger"

Are you Chuck Norris or a toddler at this point ?

A:

One of my favourite movies was Napoleon Dynamite and I used to joke after I woke up that "I round-house kicked a heart attack in the face."

My family made me a t-shirt with Chuck Norris and that quote for my 21st birthday XD


Q:
  • Are you scared of dying? (I mean the kind of dying you don't come back from, not this Psych!, down-low-too-slow thing you've got going on with Death at the moment :p)

  • How do you feel when it happens to you? Is there a sort of 'Oh, not again' resignation? Do you have faith that you'll be OK, or is it a fingers-crossed-and-hope-for-the-best kind of deal?

Glad to hear you're still pushing through it, and best wishes for your future health.

A:
  1. Absolutely -- probably my biggest fear, which leads to some of the triggers and stuff I have about stopping. I'll stop in the middle of a street if I think my heart is playing up. I haven't been hit by a car yet, so technically my heart is more deadly. A nurse once told me that my ICD (implanted defibrillator) won't work everytime, which was great to hear, but makes me think more and more about when the one comes I "don't" wake up from.

  2. I get about 8 seconds of warning, I like to call it the "8 seconds of dying". Usually I can feel my heart go into VT (an abnormal rhythm) -- and at that point I know I'm about to die again. In the beginning, I used to think that if I just sit down/calm down it will go away and go back to normal -- but the doctors told me that isn't possible. Once it has started, the only way out is to get defibrillated. VT is technically less serious nor a real 'cardiac arrest' -- but unfortunately my condition means all of my VTs so far, have led to VF -- which is when the heart stops beating.

After the nurse told me that it won't work everytime, I often think of my Mum/family when I know its coming again. Mostly is intense dread/fear/sadness. Mostly just a fingers-crossed-and-hope-I-wake-up.


Q:

I saw you post about a transplant, but have you considered or been considered for a fake heart? No idea how they work, but it would be kinda cool!

A:

I'm not sure, I think the patients best suited for a fake one are those who are on the list but won't last long enough to see a real heart while they wait. It would be cool though, and would be totally up for it if it was more reliable/as reliable as a transplant. But I think the system at the moment called LVADs is like a battery powered heart -- but would freak me out because you have to carry the battery around with you. Can you imagine have to worry if your heart has enough battery :S


Q:

Oh yeah I totally hear ya. I figured you'd know more about it than I would.

What's your favorite food? :)

A:

Haha hmm tough one. Steak and Chips probably. or Spaghetti Bolognaise.


Q:

Is there life after death? I mean it's kind of the obvious question

A:

I personally don't believe so :) There seems to be a lot of dreaming and "drugged" out feelings from my experience. And you wake up pumped, like you could run a marathon, because your brain releases all your built up Adrenaline to try keep the heart working.


Q:

Have you gained any magical powers yet?

A:

I have an ICD implanted, meaning "I Can't Die". But seriously I've often wondered like if I was in a car crash would my ICD shock me back to life/keep me alive. Hopefully don't have to try it. So apart from the usual Zombie superpowers I have also become a Vampire, but means I can't go outside in the sun....

Vampire medication


Q:

cool, anyways on a more serious note, do you have lasting pain from your experiences? Like does your organs, body parts in general have this constant pain or other health issue?

A:

When I had my 4th cardiac arrest I woke up at the bottom of a stairwell -- and never really got that checked out -- so I definitely think there was some damage somewhere in that episode lol. Mostly thats just super painful sneezes (feels like I break my ribs every sneeze), and pins and needles that aren't innocent tingles but really painful pricks.

The medication I'm on is "poisoning" my liver I think, which means I'll need to go on a new medication to reduce the damage it is causing -- or get a liver transplant down the line. And as my heart generally fails it affects my Thyroid which produces too much of something I forget. My heart is starting to get so weak / bad at pumping that it struggles to pump the blood back up my legs from my feet. So fluid builds up in my feet and makes them swollen. I'm also on medication to reduce that.

Seems like most things rely alot on the heart lol so I think generally it causes damage to my other parts. But I don't "feel" those.


Q:

I'm sad that you're going through that, but happy that you're still here.

Question: Since the doctor recommended you don't exercise.... Can you have sex?

A:

Apparently, I haven't had any issues and always joke that if I do it might be the "spark" to start a relationship lol. But yeah I think with exercise its... sustained strain over a longer period of time.


Q:

Can you provide actual proof that this is you?

Edit: He is who he says he is


Q:

Well thank you sir for delivering.

A:

What do I need? This is my first AMA -- how about a Selfie with the paper?


Q:

Do you feel anything when you're in a coma? Or do you remember being in it?

A:

Not really. I lost alot of memory from it. The doctors told my Mum that when I woke up I probably wouldn't be the same and have suffered severe brain damage from the lack of Oxygen. Luckily there were no serious side effects but definitely can't remember anything about a month before the event, and didn't start forming new memories til about 3 weeks later.


Q:

Have you ever seen the movie Flatliners? What do you think of it?

A:

Haha yeah, I mean I get the 80s version -- the technology was relatively new (I think the first ever ICD was implanted in 1980) -- so I can understand the awe of defibrillation and how rare it was for people to survive/come back from such experiences. I mean I'm not religious/am atheist so I don't believe in any of the supernatural stuff but it was just a movie that played with something we didn't know.

The new one though had no excuses...