THE QUIET THINGS THAT NO ONE EVER KNOWS

The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

by Michael Daggy

My name is Mike Daggy and I would call my life relatively “normal” up to 2005. However, normality is no longer an acquaintance of mine. I am about to share a highly personal story; in the hopes that it offers hope/support to people whom have walked in familiar shoes as mine and their families. My story starts with; I was an average 16 year old high school student, had a part-time job, had dreams of obtaining a driver’s license, going to concerts, graduating high school and going to a college, hanging out
with friends, etc. However, that December, my life forever changed (and I will never say for the worse).

The day was December 8th, 2005; I awoke that morning thinking that life would be the same as the day prior (never suspecting what the day had in store). Thinking that the most important thing was combing my hair and eating breakfast. I remember my mom dropping me off at school, before I left the car, she told me the same phrase as any other day: “see you on the other side” (she meant of the school, where she always picked me up; but that phrase had a different meaning that day). Lunch hour had just passed and I was in my forth period class (American Government). While sitting in my desk, I started to feel extremely tired. That was when life forever changed (once again, not for the worse). The class was evacuated from the room. It just so happened that a public safety officer/school liaison was in the building and was immediately called to the scene. He saved my life; I will forever be grateful for his actions and CPR skills. EMS quickly arrived; they used medications and applied defibrillation. I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). To this day I have no diagnosis of what caused the event.

I awoke almost a week later from a medically-induced coma and over ten pounds lighter. Wires and tubes flowing out of me, unable to speak from a recent respirator tube; like a scene from a sci-fi movie and hand-made get well posters everywhere, I don’t remember ever feeling scared or worried at this time. I was told that I was placed in a coma while using a cooling blanket (lowering my core body temperature; to assist in preventing brain damage). I had been clinically dead for over 25 minutes and after my long sleep; I awoke, ALIVE, but I was not out of the woods just yet.

After gaining consciousness; I thought that I was younger than I was and attended middle school, lived in a different house; memories from ages 13-16 were mostly inaccessible at that time.  Ironically; I had a new favorite movie in the hospital “50 First Dates”, it is a movie about a girl who loses her memory each night, watching it over and over again and having no recollection of the previous time I had watched it (the irony was comical). Odd thing is that; it is still my favorite movie.

After the initial event, I had a surgery to have a defibrillator/Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) installed in my chest. After this surgery, an arm sling had to be worn for a while and I could not lift my left arm above my head. The ICD does not pace, but it will shock my heart if it ever goes into an abnormal rhythm/stops again. Luckily; I have never been shocked for this reason.

I finally returned home from the hospital; two days before Christmas 2005. Spending Christmas at home and not in a hospital room was a beautiful gift. Later that season, I returned to high-school. I was truly blessed to have so much support from school staff and fellow peers. While attending school (part-time), I was also attending speech/pathology sessions to regain what I had a lost a month prior. School and good grades always came naturally, but I really struggled after my SCA. Even though school was tough; in 2007, I graduated. After high-school, I went on to obtain an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree. Most importantly, my memory returned!

Living with an ICD at such a young age is tough. When I tell peers that I have an ICD, the
common response is “what is that” or “but you’re so young!”; I then feel that I need to follow up their responses with an explanation. So I tell them that I am a SCA survivor and the common response is the question, “what is SCA?”; so once again, I am obligated to explain further. A simple example of an ICD difficulty; would be that subwoofers used to be very common in cars (especially for young folks), having to explain to friends that I cannot be in a car when the subwoofer is blaring, made me feel like a total buzz-kill. I hope that it never goes off, but if I have a SCA again, I am more fortunate than some without one. I can remember how alone I felt, when I started to digest the fact that: I have an ICD. I felt alone, since I was so young and I had not heard of anyone my age having one. I felt like; I am the only one! However, since there is an online community of survivors (like connected by hearts, various books, and parent heart watch); the feeling of isolation has subsided.

I know that this sounds upsetting, but I do hope that one day my ICD will record an abnormal rhythm and a diagnosis can be made. Today, I hardly even think about having an ICD and do not think about the limitations that it causes. I think of it as a parachute, something that I don’t think about, but is there if a problem is to occur. I guess that I will say that it makes me feel safe.

A few years ago, I kept hearing beeping and would only hear it when no one else was around. Telling others that I heard what sounded like a ringtone of a European ambulance. I thought that I was having a break from reality; hearing this strange noise when I was alone and wanting others to hear it.  So when I did hear it, I tried to find someone to validate the noise, but by the time I tried this, the noise had stopped. It made me a little frustrated. In actuality, it was my ICD beeping. This was my last thought
and why would it be beeping if I was not exercising or dying? It turns out that I had a fractured lead. I do have to admit that it was a comfort to know that I was not having mental difficulties and hearing mysterious beeping. Since the lead was defective, the lead and my ICD were replaced and surgery went very well.

It is very difficult not having a diagnosis for the reason that my SCA occurred; not knowing has caused me to wonder if it will it happen again. If it does, will I be as lucky as the last time? Will I be able to keep my memory? What if it happens when I’m alone? Am I ill? What if it is genetic and not having a diagnosis puts my family at risk? Have I done enough good things in this life, if I were to die again and stay dead? How do I want to be remembered? These are questions that most people ask later in life, not when they are not even considered to be an adult.

I am fortunate enough to be able to thank one of the rescuers responsible for saving my life. If it was not for Officer Miles (the school liaison/public safety officer) performing CPR; I would not be here today. Somehow he knew to never give up while performing CPR. I am forever grateful for his heroic actions in December 2005. It is my understanding that a lot of SCA survivors do not acquire the chance to thank their rescuers/heroes; one of my gifts is that I was able to thank mine. Because of him; I have been gifted with 11 additional birthdays.

My journey has been a constant vigorous struggle, but I view my life as a continual learning opportunity.  It is my experiences that  make me who I am today and I would not change a single thing. I never thought at 16, that a year later, I would be grateful for simply being alive to celebrate my 17th birthday. I will say that the most difficult parts of my journey was losing my memory, having past issues with memory, struggling to regain it, not having a diagnosis, feeling defective, and feeling alone. I hope that my story will help someone affected by SCA.

I am a very open person and want to provide support for SCA victims, survivors, and their families. To help accomplish this vision of helping others; I have been active with volunteering for an initiative of Parent Heart Watch; called Connected By Hearts (CBH). CBH is a blog and a place where SCA survivors and youth living with a heart condition share their amazing stories of survival. If you have not heard of this blog (CBH), I encourage you to check it out. My name is Michael and I am a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest! I want my story to be raw, unprocessed, and fervent; because I know that I am not alone!

Mike DaggyMichael Daggy

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Connected by Hearts:  http://www.connectedbyhearts.org/

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Follow Heartfelt Cardiac Projects

“Peace of mind…one screening at a time.”

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/heartfeltcardiacprojects/ 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/HeartfeltHolly

Learn More! Watch this 5 minute video:

 

 

 

 

 

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REBECCA’S STORY

REBECCA’S STORY

(Written by her parents)

Becca Basketball

Becca’s Basketball Photo

HEARTFELT cardiac screening saved Rebecca’s life!

Rebecca ran cross-country, played JV  basketball, and ran long distant track for Esperanza High School. In the summer after her freshman year, a girl’s sister on her cross-country team, Morgan, died suddenly on the tennis court from cardiac arrest. This event plus shortness of breath that Rebecca felt frequently when running longer distances in cross-country (her doctor told her it was sports induced asthma and gave her an inhaler to use), troubled her often.  She suspected that something else might be wrong. That fall, HEARTFELT cardiac screening was offered at her high school campus and Rebecca felt the urge to be checked. The screening was easy and didn’t take long. After her screening, Rebecca was told by Heartfelt Cardiac Projects that an abnormality was detected, and referred her to a cardiologist for further testing.

Becca Cross Country Esperanza

Becca’s Cross Country Photo

Rebecca was diagnosed with Hydrotropic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a
thickening of the middle wall (septum) between the heart chambers that makes the
lower left ventricle smaller and harder for blood to get through especially during
extreme exercise. At the time Rebecca was running up to 6 miles a day in cross-
country. The shortness of breath and tightness she was feeling in her chest wasn’t
from asthma; it most likely was from not enough blood being pumped through her
heart! Her cardiologist told her to stop organized sports immediately. He ran her
through several stress tests and found her heart working fine under normal
conditions. If her heart continued to pump extremely in sports, she may have
suffered cardiac arrest.

Becca Cross Country OC Invitational

Becca’s Cross Country OC Invitational Photo

We are so thankful we discovered this through HEARTFELT cardiac screening.  Rebecca’s life has changed. It’s been hard for her to give up competitive sports. She has found alternative ways of exercise through Pilates, yoga, and hiking. Her cardiologist has her on a low dosage beta-blocker medication but no further medical attention is needed other than yearly heart checkups.

HCM is genetic. Our family has been genetically tested and neither her brother nor
sister has HCM. We also know that Rebecca can pass this along to her kids but now
that this gene has been identified, it possibly could be “spun out” of Rebecca’s DNA
so it may not affect her future children.

Becca Bday

Becca’s Birthday Photo

This diagnosis has also inspired Rebecca to inform others about this screening. She
learned that statistically 3 other people at her school could have HCM and not know
it. The following spring after her diagnosis, Rebecca spoke to every sports team at
Esperanza High School encouraging them to get tested at the HEARTFELT cardiac
screening held at the same time as the spring sport’s physicals. Supporting
HEARTFELT cardiac screening is very important to Rebecca. Many thanks to Holly,
the founder of HEARTFELT cardiac screening, for all her kindness and
encouragement during this scary time!

Dawn & Mark,
Rebecca’s mom  & dad

Learn more about heart screenings at:

Heartfelt Cardiac Projects

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OPEN YOUR HEART

A message from Holly Morrell, Executive Director, Heartfelt Cardiac Projects

On July 14, 2012, I survived emergency open-heart surgery by only 90 seconds.  I believe my life was spared in order for me to continue my life’s work — saving others from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).  

SCA kills a high-school athlete every three days and 450,000 people each year.  It is the number-one killer of women and the number-one killer in the U.S.  I am living with a heart disease that has killed six members of my family.

Through my nonprofit organization, PHFE Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, I have spent the past 14 years providing community cardiac screenings for early detection of heart disease and other cardiac conditions that can lead to sudden death.  I have provided comprehensive cardiac evaluation to over 30,000 people across the United States, free of charge or at just a fraction of what it would cost them any other way.  It has been both a privilege and an indescribable blessing to have had the opportunity to save and/or protect the lives of hundreds of people, who would not have access to or money for these screenings.

I cannot do this alone.  I need your help!

I must raise funds for PHFE Heartfelt Cardiac Projects to continue the service of this life-saving organization.

PLESAE HELP ME at GO FUND ME

by making a tax-deductible donation

so I can continue to screen more people and save more lives.

 

Thank you . . . from the bottom of my heart.

~Holly Morrell

  http://www.gofundme.com/HeartfeltCardiacProjects

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 Please take five minutes to view this video

profiling four young kids recently saved by Heartfelt screenings

and to learn more about my personal story.

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For more information, visit Heartfelt Cardiac Projects at:

http://www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/

HAPPY NATIONAL HEART MONTH

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UPDATE FROM HOLLY MORRELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HEARTFELT CARDIAC PROJECTS

HAPPY NATIONAL HEART MONTH!

Zack, Dillon, Ryan & Cheyne - 4 Lives Saved from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) through early detection via heart screening at a Heartfelt Cardiac Project event.

Zack, Dillon, Ryan & Cheyne – 4 Lives Saved from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) through early detection via heart screening at a Heartfelt Cardiac Project event.

Meet Zack, Dillon, Ryan, and Cheyne, four vivacious teenagers whose lives were protected through early detection of potentially life threatening heart abnormalities at Heartfelt Cardiac Projects cardiac screenings.

SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST (SCA)

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a silent killer that shows no prejudice – it strikes seemingly healthy individuals of all age groups and all walks of life. SCA is the #1 killer in the United States. Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, a nonprofit organization, helps save lives by raising awareness and offering affordable heart screenings to the public.

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You can Save a Life

How can you help?

Be an active participant.

We can only screen as many people as funds allow.

We absolutely need YOUR financial support.

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Watch and Share this Video

Will you invest 5 minutes of your time today?

Please help us raise public awareness of the need to save more lives from SCA

by watching the Heartfelt Cardiac Projects video below –

AND sharing it with your social networking platforms:

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, email, and blog.

Help spread the word about early detection –

it could save someone’s life!

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Click Here and Watch on You Tube or Vimeo

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Wondering why you haven’t heard from Holly lately?

Find out why by watching the video above!

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1278 Glenneyre Street 244 • LAguna Beach, CA 92651 • 949-494-6575

www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org

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Make a donation of any size.

CLICK:  I want to make a donation

CARIDAC SCREENING EVENT 12/15/2012

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HEARTFELT CARDIAC PROJECTS CARDIAC SCREENING EVENT

12/15/2012

St. Margaret’s Episcopal School

9:00 a.m. – 5:00

Pasternack Field House

31641 La Novie Avenue, San Juan Capistrano, CA  92675

Screening includes Electrocardiogram (EKG) & Echocardiogram (ECHO)

Cost:  $85.00 (Tax Deductible)

Ages:  5 yrs. old and older

CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE SCREENING

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Heartfelt Screening at St Margarets Flier

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READ THE ARTICLE BY ST. MARGARET’S

On Saturday, December 15, St. Margaret’s will hold its third elective heart screening event from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Pasternack Field House. Last year, in conjunction with the non-profit Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, St. Margaret’s held two similar screening days which were attended by more 400 students, employees and parents. Thanks to these two initial screenings, two student lives were potentially saved and more 25 others were referred to physicians for further evaluation. You can read more at http://heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/ryan-ohare/ and http://heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/zack/. While both events were successful in terms of attendance alone, the fact that the screenings probably saved and definitely improved lives (young and old) has motivated us to schedule a third screening, open to the entire St. Margaret’s Episcopal School community.

The screening process itself is simple, low cost and carries no health risks. Holly Morrell, founder of Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, and her team will bring all of the equipment necessary to perform voluntary EKG’s and Echocardiograms (a short, painless, ultrasound of the heart, with no side effects). She also provides certified EKG and Echo technologists. After filling out a simple health questionnaire, participants receive their EKG and Echocardiogram, which take approximately 15-20 minutes. Results are read by a cardiologist/electrophysiologist and mailed back to participants within 30 days. Participants who may require further evaluation will be referred to an appropriate physician. The cost is $85 per person, which is a tax deductible donation to Heartfelt Cardiac Projects.

For those less familiar with the history of cardiac screening at St. Margaret’s, the effort stems from the rash of high profile deaths among young, apparently healthy athletes from all across the nation, in a variety of sports. These tragic incidents have raised awareness and have demonstrated a need for a more rigorous cardiac screening for young athletes and young people in general. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from sudden cardiac arrest have increased 10 percent (from 2,719 in 1989 to 3,000 in 1996) in people between the ages of 15 and 34. Efforts to screen for some of the major contributors to sudden cardiac arrest have been hampered by inadequate funding, the high cost of screening and lack of qualified screeners.

Thanks to the continued support of Headmaster Marcus D. Hurlbut, Athletic Director Susie Maga and Head Football Coach Rod Baltau, St. Margaret’s is a leader in youth cardiac screening. Erin Newman Armstrong (Class of 1998), a cardiac ICU nurse at Mission Hospital and wife of a sudden cardiac arrest survivor, will again assist Holly Morrell’s team. Holly founded Heartfelt Cardiac Projects to help save lives through early detection, education and increased public awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, and has 11 years of experience screening student athletes nationwide. After losing six family members to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the number one cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people in the U.S., Holly was also diagnosed with the condition in 2002.

The goal of these screenings is to educate students, parents, faculty and staff not only about their own cardiac health but also about CPR and the use of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). So far, this coordinated approach has not only helped to improve the lives of two of our students but also a soccer referee who was revived with an AED thanks to Trainer David Tomlinson and Coach Mel Taylor. Our sincere hope is to prevent similar episodes in our community and to teach people to respond quickly and effectively if they do.

The December screening is open to any student (over 5 years old), parent, faculty or staff member. Please visit “schedule a screening” at www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org.

Sincerely,

S. Todd Newman, M.D. (Class of 1991)

Vice Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian

St. Margaret’s Varsity Football Team Physician

For more information about our screener, Holly Morrell, visit http://heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/who-we-are/ or contact Dr. Newman at Snewman25911@yahoo.com. For more information on why we are doing this, please watch this video from Parent Heart Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww96dEBDVP8&feature=youtube_gdata_player.

YOU CAN HELP SAVE LIVES

Early detection through heart screenings helps save lives from Sudden Cardiac Death (SCA).  Heartfelt Cardiac Projects offers affordable cardiac screenings to the public.  You can help raise public awareness of this need by sharing the Heartfelt Cardiac Projects video with your social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Email, Blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc . . . and by asking your connections to share as well.  Together we can raise public awareness and save lives one heart at a time!
Many Blessings!
HEARTFELT CARDIAC PROJECTS