Heart Stopping Moments

At 4:45 this morning, the phone rang. 

I rolled over and saw that it was Spencer.  I actually thought nothing of it.  There was no sinking feeling.  No wondering what he wanted at 4:45 AM.  This is especially strange since I knew he and his best friend/roommate were spending the night in hammocks in Zion's National Park.  They had no cell service.  The last time I spoke to Spencer was at 6:30 pm Friday night as they left Provo. 

"Hey Mom, how's it going?"
"Fine, it's early.  How are you?"
"Well, I don't feel very good, can I go to the ER?  I'm having problems.  My heart stopped.  I was gone for 30 seconds Mom.  Can I go to the hospital?"
"It did? Ya.  What hospital?  Where are you?"
"Well, we are almost there.  St. George."
"Okay.  Yes.  What happened?"
"I don't know.  K. found me.  He checked my pulse and there wasn't one.  He was trying to figure out what to do, shaking me, trying to wake me up, start CPR but then I came back.  It was about 30 seconds he thinks."
"Okay.  Call me when you know anything.  I love you Spencer."

His voice was weak but not worried or alarmed. He sounded flat and distant and disoriented a little.  My voice was calm and the conversation resembled more like a recipe exchange with friends than the frenzied moment you might imagine. 

I hung up the phone.  I laid in the dark, looking out the darker window and somehow felt afraid to move; afraid to feel my own self breathing.  That hour before the sunrise is the darkest.  I was not comprehending the conversation I had just had.  After several minutes, I thought I better text him his medications, dosages, important things he needed to remember to tell the physician or have his friend tell the physician.  I sat up and texted that. 

I stared into space for three more hours before I could get myself out of bed and in the shower, still no word from Spencer.

Just before 11, I heard back from him.  By the time they got to the hospital, his heart rate was back up to 50 but there was not a steady beat for quite some time.  It would spiked to nearly 100 just laying on the stretcher, then drop really low again.  There are a few gaps in the story at this point.  He said they let him go when it was stable, of course after a battery of tests and imaging.  They headed back to Provo. 

When he called the second time, he said, "You know what the big miracle was mom?"
"I'm assuming there were more than the obvious- that I am speaking to you after your heart stopped beating."
"Ya.  We were hanging in the trees, sleeping in hammocks.  K got too cold so at some point in the night, he packed up his hammock and moved into the car.  I woke up some time later and noticed he was gone.  For some reason, I  thought it would be best if I took my hammock down too and move into the car.   I fell asleep and K. heard me breathing weird and sat up with a light.  He could see that I had stopped breathing and checked my pulse.  There wasn't one.  If I had of stayed up in the tree alone, it might have been a different story mom.  That's a miracle!"

At this point, we don't know what happened.  Judging from the arrhythmia the doctors witnessed, they are assuming that is what caused his heart to stop.  Spencer has a loop recorder in his heart that constantly monitors what his heart is doing.  He had taken the remote out of his pocket when he went to bed and put it in a backpack.  Normally, when he has 'events', he can push the button and it will flag that time so they can go back and see what was happening. He wasn't able to do that and his friend didn't think of it or probably even know it existed.

When he got home to Provo, he downloaded his recorder and sent it to the device team at the University Medical Center.  As the day and evening has gone on, he is more upset and shaken up but he said his friend was probably doing a little worse. 

This morning, I told the kids just before I left the house.  I just couldn't stay put.  I was pretty anxious but holding it together. As the day has dragged on, we've each had a moment or two of just raw emotion.  Today, I had to make a cake I had promised to make and it was pretty involved.  It kept me occupied for quite awhile and my friend came over and watched and visited for a bit while I worked on the decorating.  After she left, I kind of fell apart.  I was working on Spongebob and he was looking awful,  I threw him across the counter and started crying.  Sam came in the kitchen and put his arms out and said, "Ma, I think you just need a hug."

Honestly, I'm still trying to process this.  I am so emotionally spent. Nothing makes sense.  My emotions are all messed up and my reactions are completely inappropriate and in-congruent.  I have no idea where we go from here.  This is the second time in a year his heart has stopped.  I really want to push for a defibrillator and pace maker.  The thought of putting another one of my kids through heart surgery is exhausting to me. 

I don't know how much more we can manage.  I called Spence tonight to check on him and I am worried that he won't be able to sleep tonight.  I was right, he's pretty anxious to go to sleep.  I am too.  I'm afraid I won't hear my phone if he calls.  I told him to call me if he can't sleep or gets too anxious and carried away in the residual shock of the day.

I am holding on to one thought today...God sent him back!  He could have stayed, on the other side, I suppose, but he came back.  There is a reason he is here on earth still.  At first, when I started thinking about the events, I was a little angry that God couldn't make up his mind and I'm not impressed with the back and forth, dead and alive.  Then, I heard a small voice say, "I am keeping his sick and weary body alive.  He is not done yet."  I realized that it's the disease process that is taking the toll and trying to take him out of the game and it's God who is literally giving him the breath of life.  My kids give new meaning to the phrase- borrowed time. 

On a bright note...Here is the finished cake for Shelbie's best friend's birthday tomorrow!
White Almond cake with a raspberry filling.  Spongebob and his pineapple house are made of Rice Krispy treats



  1. Kellon just told me about this. I will say an extra prayer for you and Spencer tonight. He has much yet to accomplish. ❤


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