I’ve always known that life can change in a heartbeat, in a second, with a phone call. On January 17th, 2019, our lives changed - literally in a heartbeat. It has changed in ways that I could not have dreamed of that morning, when my husband handed me my shoes that he had just shined for me, and kissed me goodbye as I left for work. We are forever changed. We are changed in what we believe. We believe in miracles. We believe in humanity. Although I will not do it justice, I want to tell you our story.
“In this world today, no one seems to like each other very much. But everyone worked together to save him. It was a beautiful thing.” - Bruce, the Good Samaritan
My husband, Patrick, took our dog Maisy for a run. In a second, he was down with pain in his chest. Maisy stayed with him as he was in the snowbank. At 11:45 am, a man named Bruce stopped and called 911. Calling from Bruce’s phone, Patrick left me a message telling me to come home. The ambulance was there and gone in three minutes. As soon as he got to Bridgton (the nearest hospital), they called Lifeflight. At 2:00 pm, he was at Maine Medical Center as some of the best cardio-thoracic surgeons, and their team prepped him for emergency surgery. Nine and a half hours later, he was alive, and there was hope.
There are so many things that I didn’t know before that day. First and foremost, I didn’t know how lucky we are to live near Maine Medical Center, where people travel to see these surgeons. I didn’t know the devastation that a Type 1A Aortic Dissection does to the human body. I barely knew where the aorta was. I didn’t know that what happened to Patrick happens to only .0003% of the population. And I didn’t KNOW that miracles happen. I hoped, but I didn’t know.
The surgeons refer to Patrick as “the miracle man.” It is clear that if just one thing had been different, he would not have survived this. If he hadn’t made it to the road for his run, for someone to find him, if Maisy hadn’t stayed with him to so he could be seen, if Bruce and others hadn’t stopped right away, if the paramedic hadn’t had the training that she had, if the weather had prevented Lifeflight from flying, if the surgeons at Maine Medical hadn’t been able to do the surgery, and on, and on, and on. Life and death can depend on just one circumstance. It’s
Six days in the Cardiac ICU, and six days in the hospital later, Patrick rolled out of Maine Medical with no residual damage. When he saw the surgeon a week later, the surgeon told him that he has no neurological damage cannot be explained. He said it was “the hand of God."
We are grateful. Grateful that he is alive, well and whole, and while recovery takes time, he is expected to run with Maisy again. I have been struck by so many thoughts, but I haven’t been able to shake what Bruce, the man who found him first, said when we called him. He said it was “a beautiful thing” to see everyone working together to save him. He’s right when he says that today we do not think well of each other – or at least that is what we are led to believe. So many people stopped to help my husband on that two-lane country road, where everyone drives too
fast. Three young girls took our dog to our house so she would be safe. First responders and medical professionals worked to save him with as much compassion as skill. Our kids dropped everything to fly and/or drive as fast as they could. Friends and hospital volunteers waited with me while I sat in a waiting room in shock for hours, with my husband’s wedding ring on my thumb. Many sat all over the country holding their breath and praying. People in the waiting room shared food and watched over each other. People did everything and more than we could have asked for. We are used to giving – not receiving. It was overwhelming.
If we are waiting for someone to come on the national stage to save us, we are looking in the wrong place. We must look to our family, our friends, our neighbors and our professionals who spend every day saving lives. We must also look to the kindness of strangers who give because they just want to. It has been, without question, a beautiful thing to behold.