"It keeps going through your mind, will I go down again?"

Sandra Ryder, OHCA Survivor

In her audio recordings, Sandra speaks about what happened when she had her cardiac arrest. Like the other survivors who have shared their stories, she has no recollection of the event. She tells us about her time in hospital and the various investigations that she underwent. Sandra lives alone and she talks about her worries and concerns on going home, despite the excellent support she has from her immediate family.

Sandra’s OHCA has had a major physical, psychological and social impact on her life and she discusses ways in which her life has changed. One of her major fears is having another OHCA, despite having an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in place. Sandra attended a formal rehabilitation programme and she considers the benefits of this in helping her on the road to recovery.

Please note the image used for this story is not of Sandra but a stock photography model.

In this audio recording, Sandra describes what happened when she had her OHCA. She lives alone but, luckily, had her arrest while she was at her daughter’s house. Sandra has no memory of collapsing and it was totally unexpected. Her son-in-law commenced CPR, while her daughter phoned the emergency services. Investigations in hospital showed nothing wrong with Sandra’s heart. Prior to her arrest, Sandra had no heart problems but she was on tablets for high blood pressure and diabetes. She shares her disbelief and questions why it should have happened to her.

A full transcript of the audio can be found on the SoundCloud page.

Sandra discusses what it was like once she got home from hospital. She was, initially, frightened about being alone at home and very anxious. She shared her anxiety with her family and they were very supportive. Despite having her ICD checked and being told that it was working, Sandra still worried. Since going home, she has had further collapses when her ICD has had to shock her heart into beating normally again. Her medication has now been changed and Sandra is beginning to feel better.

A full transcript of the audio can be found on the SoundCloud page.

Sandra discusses what it was like having further arrests where her ICD was activated. She found it difficult to cope with this and being back in hospital. While she was in hospital this time, it was suggested that she might find a cardiac rehabilitation programme useful. Sandra was given leaflets telling her about her ICD but, at first, she was reluctant to read these as she was frightened of what they said. She knew very little about ICDs until she was fitted with one. Sandra worried that she was going to become housebound and that her future would be limited. When she started her cardiac rehabilitation programme, she found it very useful. She shared her experiences with others, spoke to staff about her concerns and attended educational talks. Nobody else in her group had experienced an OHCA.

A full transcript of the audio can be found on the SoundCloud page.

Sandra reflects on the impact that the OHCA has had on her life. One of the major effects has been her energy levels. From being someone who was always on the go, she became fatigued very easily. She was very anxious about having a re-arrest and this impacted on her social life, as she felt safe if she stayed in the house. Her confidence is slowly returning, as time passes. Sandra has not gone back to work since she had her cardiac arrest, as she is not sure she will be able to cope with the added pressure.

A full transcript of the audio can be found on the SoundCloud page.

In this short recording, Sandra talks about the important part that her car previously played in her life. She used it a lot for work and for going out to visit family and friends. When she was first recovering from her OHCA, she had no interest in driving again and gave up her driving license. Now, however, she is thinking about re-applying for it, even though she finds the thought of getting back in her car quite daunting.

A full transcript of the audio can be found on the SoundCloud page.

In this film, Sandra reflects on what she would have found helpful when she was recovering from her OHCA. She feels that it would have been useful to have spoken to someone who had previously had an ICD fitted, so they could share personal experiences and Sandra would be reassured. As time has passed things have improved and Sandra no longer finds her ICD strange. She is beginning to see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ after feeling quite depressed six months ago. Although she is feeling much more positive about life, she continues to find it difficult to make sense of the fact that she would have died if she had been alone at home when she had her OHCA.

A full transcript of the audio can be found on the SoundCloud page.


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