Saturday, May 5, 2012


    “They packed him in ice? My God, why?’ That was my response to my sister when she called me a few weeks ago from Richmond, Virginia. She told me that her husband Kenny had a massive heart attack. He is a tall strong guy who is 59 years old and was thinking of retiring early. On that particular day, Kenny was singularly, tearing down a wall of their house and breaking up tile, with all his might. The plan was to remodel the house and place it on the market and then to downsize to a smaller house for their eventual retirement. He placed a lot of effort on this job, as he admitted when he called my sister on the phone.

     My sister, Laurie was on her way home from work, only a few minutes from the house. When she answered her cell phone, Kenny said, “I must have overdone it. I feel chest pains and hurt all over.”

     Laurie said, “Are you nauseated?”

     Her husband of many years said, “No, but I have really bad indigestion.”

     Laurie said, “Oh no. Call 911 right now and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

     Laurie was aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and knew that indigestion
was one of them. She knew she was racing against time that day as she neared
the house. She prayed that her fears were unfounded.She ran to the front door and entered the living room where Kenny was sitting in his chair. His head was leaning to its side. She spoke to him and he didn’t respond. She leaned down and listened for his breathing and there was none. She knew her worst fears were real. She began pushing on his chest. When she realized that was not going to work she grabbed a hold of his feet and pulled him off his chair, as fast and forcefully as she could. At the time,she was afraid she hurt his head, but she knew she had to do all she could remember to save him. She had seen emergency people 30 years before attempt to resuscitate a man. She saw them use CPR fruitlessly. But more recently, she saw on  TV where compressions were  recommended when there was an untrained person present in the company of the heart attack victim. She said she learned to place one hand over the other and push down on his chest in a one two push rhythm. And that is what she proceeded to do. She said she blew her breath in his mouth a couple of times, but there was no response, so she continued with the compressions.
     Shortly after she had been working on her husband’s chest the EMS arrived at
he door. She screamed out, “Hurry, hurry.”

     When the paramedics came in the living room, one of the guys dropped his
mouth wide open in surprise. He said she was doing a good job and asked her
if she could continue with what she was doing while he set up. She continued the
compressions until they took over. They took him to two hospitals, while Laurie
frantically went looking for him. When the emergency people found the right
hospital, they waited for the cardiologist to  arrive. They told my sister her
husband was gravely ill. After a quick surgery placing stints in his main artery,
they took him to ICU and packed his body in ice to bring down his temperature
to 90 degrees. They kept him on ice 24 hours. Then they removed the ice.

     The whole family was surprised that he was being treated in such a fashion.
Needless to say I was, as well. So, I googled and researched the ice packing of heart patients. One of the first articles to pop up was Jeffrey Dobkin’s, “A Technique For Delaying Brain Death in Heart Attack Victims”, Please check it out, you never know when this can make the difference in life and death.

very interesting.
     Quickly, I will tell you that this is a procedure that can be done to delay the
irreversible brain damage thought to occur when no oxygen reaches the brain
for four minutes. He also discusses that in case of emergency, when there is no
other immediate remedy and you live in the country and you have a heart attack
or someone else does, another one present can wrap the heart victim in plastic
grocery bags filled with ice from your freezer. Or merely wrapping one’s face
with the ice to cool the body can bring the body temperature down to mimic
hypothermia. The odds of someone surviving after becoming comatose are
not good: 75 % are never revived or die shortly after.

     The wrapping of ice for crucial cases started in Australia. And apparently it
is being used up east in Virginia. I can’t help wondering if the procedure is
used in Texas yet.

    At any rate, I’m delighted to tell you that four weeks later, my brother-in-law is
up walking and talking and the only effect he feels from the coronary is some
short term memory loss which is being treated. The doctor told him he could play
golf again, but to let someone else do the carpentry work.

     Thank the universe and God that my sister knew what to do to save his life
and the progressive doctors up east were smart enough to pack him in ice.


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