The American Heart Association encourages everyone to attend a CPR class because this skill could make a difference in saving another person’s life.
At around this time last year, Kristen left Jackson to travel to Omaha, Nebraska, to spend the Fourth of July with my folks.
Keeping it a secret from her mother, who was battling multiple myeloma, an illness that turns your bones into Swiss cheese, made it all the more special.
On that day, the Democratic Convention began that evening. They were all gathered around the TV, watching reporters conduct in-person interviews with people they encountered while also providing their own commentary.
She recalls that when the reporter mentioned something, she was aware that her mother would make a peculiar comment. Consequently, as she anticipated her, she turned to face her. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as she opened her mouth, and her shoulders and chest started to tremble.
She immediately had a seizure as a result of all the cancer-related drugs. "Mom!" she yelled. " anticipating a reply from her, but she made no move to reply.
She dials 911 right away. She quickly became aware that her mother wasn't breathing.
She began performing chest compressions as her dad lifted her up from her favorite recliner and placed her on the floor of our living room. She groaned as she quickly felt the bones fracture beneath her hands. She needed a moment to grasp that the noise was simply her mother's lungs expelling air.
As Kristen applied pressure to her chest, she looked into her eyes to check for a reaction. She wasn't there, though. Her eyes were shiny, black, and vacant as she fixed her gaze on the ceiling.
After a brief period of time, she began to dramatically gasp for air every 30 seconds without evoking any other cognitive response. Kristen initially believed she was breathing. But something inside told her to keep pushing on her chest because it didn't feel right.
A few weeks earlier, she had been working with Jackson Hole Fire and organized a CPR class teaching bystanders at neighborhood grocery stores how to perform Hands-only CPR, to continue the heart's rhythmic flow of blood to the brain.
Then she began to sing. She prayed that she could hear her as she sang "Ah Ha Ha Ha Stayin' Alive." She wished for her continued survival.
Although it seemed like an eternity, the time it took for them to hear sirens was actually only seven minutes. They could only hear it after it grew louder and louder over time. The EMTs hurriedly entered the room, put up an AED right away, started the countdown, and shocked her mother's heart.
Before placing her on a stretcher and calmly informing them of the hospital they were transporting her to, they worked on her for at least fifteen minutes.
Kristen was certain that her mother was not with them when they arrived at the hospital. "There she goes, into the universe," Kristen thought as the sun sank and its colors magnificently spread across the flatlands.
They were shocked to learn that her mother had stabilized when they got to the emergency room. And that she was actually beating her heart on her own.
The ER doctor informed Kristen that she experienced a rapid cardiac arrest during her conversation with him. Additionally, he claimed that she would not have survived if she hadn't dialed 911, begun performing CPR, and used an AED.
Sadly, her mother's cancer was far more severe. Before her heart eventually stopped beating, my mother survived for a further six days in the intensive care unit.
Even if the previous six days were terrible and required many difficult choices, they did have those six days. She held my mother's hand during those six days, telling her how much she loved her and how wonderful she was.
That response to Kristen was mouthed by her. Her brother was able to fly in from Florida during those six days and tell her that he and her brother both loved her. They were all able to communicate what they needed. She was aware of it and answered. All because someone dialed 911, performed CPR, and utilized an AED.
The story of her mother didn't have a happy ending, but perhaps it would have if it weren't for cancer. And even if the outcome wasn't what they had hoped for or expected, we were all able to feel closure and peace in our hearts.
Even if it's only Hands-only CPR, Kristen says she'd like to attend a CPR class. The outcome of those two easy steps determines whether someone lives or dies. To the tune of the Bee Gees song "Stayin' Alive," dial 911 and apply intense pressure to the center of the chest. This could save or prolong life. Possibly even the life of a loved one.