Ominous moment #1. David exclaims, “Oh no!” as we ride towards our friends ahead. One is sprawled on the ground; it is Stanton with a man in scrubs over him, methodically carrying out CPR. Stan had keeled over after telling Steven & Tammy that he felt so bad that he was going to stop and call Susie to come & pick him up. Eventually the emergency services arrived; an ambulance, a hospital car and two fire trucks. Soon there were up to eight paramedics round him: CPR, defibrillators, drips and goodness knows what else. Stan had long since stopped gasping for breath and looked, well, dead.
Into the ambulance with me in the front. Ominous moment #2. The paramedic team leader says, “of course, he is dead but we are still trying”. More CPR, more defibrillation. We arrived at the hospital. I was bundled off to the waiting room and the stretcher carrying our friend disappeared into the emergency room. I was then sent up to the cardiac waiting room and Susie arrived not long after. Mildly flustered but certainly not panicking. Ominous moment #3. The cardiologist says to us: “you need to know that of 100 patients that come into the hospital in his condition, only one leaves alive”. Inspirational moment #4. Susie says, with a quiet smile, “that’s OK ….. he is the One Percent”. In case you are confused already, inspirational moments 1, 2 & 3 were the prompt reactions of Tammy, Mitch, Steven and Michael at the scene, the compassion of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help and the professional dedication of the paramedics.
Then it was into a low-temperature controlled coma for Stan to prevent swelling of the brain. At some point his heart had been resuscitated but he had been clinically dead for about 20 minutes. Sharon and I saw him the next day; he looked awful with an odd jaundice-like skin color. All signs of activity seemed wholly artificial. He was, after all, totally at the mercy of all the machinery around him, keeping him “alive”. Susie stroked his hand as she talked to him and never, ever waivered. He was going to make it. I suspect that the rest of us, in our heart-of-hearts, feared the worse when Stan was to be brought out of the coma. To not succumb to complete brain-death after what he had been through was almost unheard of and to contemplate the decisions that Susie might have to make was just too awful.
Inspirational moment #5. Stanton was brought out of the coma and had all his mental faculties. He had survived the ordeal and promptly become the cause célèbre of the cardiology community through Austin, and maybe Central Texas. He and the very few like him are the reasons that the paramedics, nurses and doctors do what they do, in the face of normally insurmountable odds. When I saw him later that day Stan looked just terrific, both physically and mentally: bright, alert and almost chipper! I thought this was a done deal. Now it was simply a matter of a quadruple by-pass, a piece of cake for him now.
I was very naïve. The by-pass surgery and subsequent tests were totally successful but inevitably, wiped poor Stanton out and left him very frail. The irony is that I am not sure that it really matters. His rehab will continue at a pace that defies all conventional wisdom. He will make his one hundred percent recovery and before too long will be back on his bike, kicking my butt as ever. He said yesterday that he would be careful not to “drop” me when we ride, though of course he owes me nothing. He does not understand …… inspirational moment #6 will be when, once more, I see him cruise effortlessly away from me, leaving me gasping for breath in a futile attempt to hang on to his wheel.