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Fear of Dying

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When I was 17 years old, I went into sudden cardiac arrest and almost died. Sudden cardiac arrest is an abnormal rhythm with the heart also known as an arrhythmia where the heart suddenly stops working. Immediate CPR and the quick shock from AED are crucial to someone surviving sudden cardiac arrest. I did not receive CPR right away and there was no AED on site in the building where I suffered my sudden cardiac arrest, so doctors told me my chances of survival were ONE in a MILLION.

Hey guys mike’s here with a big heart and today i’m going to talk to you about the fear of dying i had after coming home from the hospital after i suffered sudden cardiac arrest when i was in the hospital after my studying cardiac arrest i had a ton of feelings of being very anxious and i had a ton of questions because i really wasn’t sure what was going on

And one of the things i don’t think i understood the value of was having a medical professional accessible 24 hours a day right i had nurses i had doctors if i pressed a button on the little remote that was attached to my bed a nurse would be there within seconds and i could ask her a question or if something was beeping i could you know they would come in and

Make sure the beeping stopped or if i didn’t feel right or if i had a question about a surgery or if i was worried about cardiac arrest i just had access to someone answering those questions for me at all times and you know there were a lot of them because this was so new for my family and me and you know we just wanted everything answered we just wanted to feel

Better about everything that was going on and i don’t think i understood the value of that until i actually went home from the hospital one of the conversations i had with my cardiologist early on was kind of about what is sudden cardiac arrest who does it affect how does it affect people when does it happen and i remember her telling me that yes it affects people

During you know extreme exercise or different strenuous activity but it also could happen at any time including it happens to people in their sleep and this was a conversation that just kind of stuck in my head and when i got discharged from the hospital one of my nurses actually made me a certificate that said most informed patient because i think of the amount of

Questions i asked in my time there but i remember being very excited you know i could not wait to go home i wanted to sleep in my bed i wanted to have visitors come to our house i wanted to not eat hospital food i just wanted to kind of get back to living a normal life so it was a pretty surreal drive leaving the hospital going home it was about a 40 minute drive

But when we pulled down that driveway went into the garage went from the garage to the basement which we called our sports room those feelings of excitement and relief suddenly changed they suddenly became feelings of fear and anxiety because i no longer had medical professionals around me 24 hours a day and i love my parents to death but they are not medical

Professionals and at the time we were not trained in cpr and how to use an aed so i was worried that if something happens or if i don’t feel right who’s going to answer my questions what if there was an emergency who’s going to help save my life and you know it was an adjustment going from having these people that would be by my side instantly that would make me

Feel better to not having those people anymore and later that night it was my first night home we were sitting at the dinner table and we had people that were sending my family dinner so my parents didn’t have to cook which was great we had a ton of support from our local community but i remember sitting there and all of a sudden i had this fear that i was gonna

Die in my sleep i thought that i was going to go to bed that night i was going to go into cardiac arrest again my defibrillator was not going to work and i was never going to wake up and i remember convincing myself that if this happens like it’s okay i’m not even gonna know the difference which is a really awful thought for a 17 year old kid to have being okay

With just dying in their sleep but i didn’t want that to happen you know our family had been through so much so i forced myself to stay up and i forced myself not to go to sleep for a while because i’d want something to happen when someone was not watching me so you know this fear of dying is something that i lived with for a period of time after my sudden cardiac

Arrest and i want to talk a little bit how i got over that fear and i think the first thing is really learning how to trust my doctors you know doctors are brilliant brilliant people that study cardiac arrest study disease and they know more about it than anybody and learning to trust them and if they were comfortable sending me home knowing that i should feel

Comfortable being home if they felt i was safe i should feel safe um you know and once i was able to trust my doctors more i think it helped me get over that fear of dying another story that i want to tell years later i’ve done a ton of speaking and have had the opportunity to speak at many different medical conferences about my journey along with heart disease

Surviving cardiac arrest being a patient and i remember i told this exact story it’s a story where i was afraid to go to sleep and there was an electrophysiologist who was the moderator of my talk and after i finished they did a question and answer and she said that as a doctor that when she puts an icd in a patient she actually sleeps better at night because

She now knows that that patient is safe and she found it ironic that i was actually afraid to sleep at night when she thought that my doctor was probably sleeping better knowing that i was home with an icd living my life safely and it was just a conversation and a statement that i’ll never forget because you know it just had a huge impact and really how these

Physicians really trust these devices and how they can allow patients like myself that go into cardiac arrest and have to live hopefully 70 or 80 years with heart disease you know that normal life and be able to do it safely because of um icd so if you’re a patient out there and you know you’ve been newly diagnosed you’ve gone into cardiac arrest or whatever it

Is we all have fears and i think the most important thing like i said before is number one trust your doctor listen to your doctor do what your doctor says but know your doctor is going to do everything that puts you in a safe environment if there’s real fears that something’s gonna happen most likely they’re not even going to let you leave the hospital they’re

Not going to send you home until they’re confident that you can safely live your life i think that’s really important the other thing is just to be patient you know i think it’s really normal for people that are newly diagnosed with heart disease to be nervous to be anxious and they want these feelings to just go away so they can get back to living their life but

It takes time don’t expect them to go away overnight be patient enjoy the process and just just know that you’re going to get back to living that life life very normally as soon as possible and those feelings of fear are going to go away so you know again when i was 17 years old which was a long time ago now 16 years you know i was afraid that i was going to die

In my sleep but between my doctor and and me starting to trust them my medical team and trust my defibrillator i’m happy to say i’m completely past that fear and if you have it you can get past it too

Transcribed from video
Fear of Dying By Mike Papale