My name is Paula Beddoe, I am a wife and mother to four children. On 11/11/15 mine and my family’s world was turned upside down.
I suffered a Cardiac Arrest, this is not a Heart Attack, the difference is a person having a heart attack is conscious and breathing – effectively it’s a plumbing issue. Someone having a Cardiac Arrest is unconscious NOT breathing and is dead -an electrical issue.
We were moving house the next day, I had been to work and as I am a Community Champion, I had been working in one of my local Primary Schools. I’d finished work and gone home to pack the last few boxes. The kids had gone to stay with my parents, I had even walked my dog! I sat on the sofa with my husband to watch TV, I have no memory of this, in fact I lost several days of memory.
My husband has since told me he was talking to me whilst watching the telly and he thought that I had fallen asleep as I was making funny snoring noises, he turned to me to ask if he was boring me – it was then that he realised something wasn’t right, I was a grey colour and my lips were blue! The snoring noise I now know was Agonal Breathing which is not actual breathing – but a Brainstem Reflex.
I was clinically dead for approximately 20 minutes, my husband rang 999 and was talked through CPR by the call handler. He really tried to do this but said that all he could think of was how could he tell the kids that their mom was dead and then emotionally he completely lost it! With the phone in his hand he ran next door and asked our neighbour, Brian, to help.
Upon seeing me Brian had an angina attack but, fortunately for me, he had called his wife Sheila who, aged 61, performed CPR on me until the Paramedics arrived. They worked on me for quite some time giving me 3 shocks with a defibrillator to get me back. On a plus point I now have two Birthdays like the Queen (well it’s worth a try!).
I was taken to City Hospital Birmingham where I was placed in an induced coma & my family were prepared for the worst as the risk of brain injury is huge when patients are brought back. The chances of survival of an O.H.C.A ( Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest ) are, at best, one in 10 in the UK although if you were in Copenhagen you would have a 60% greater chance of survival than in the UK, purely because Basic Life Support is part of the school Curriculum and also taught in the work place. CPR buys time, no one has ever been sued for breaking a rib and I can assure you I’d have a broken rib any day rather than be dead!
I returned to work after 10 weeks. I am a great believer in Positive Mental Attitude which I know I am lucky to have. The cause of my Cardiac Arrest was Idiopathic (a condition which arises spontaneously) so I could have lived with this all of my life, it may happen again – it may not. For this reason I now have an I.C.D (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator) fitted just in case.
Since this happened I have helped my local Community Centre and 3 local schools to get AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators). I am also part of a group called SCA UK (Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK) which was set up by Paul Swindell a survivor himself to support survivors and their families. The group has regular meet-ups which I find invaluable as only someone who has been through this experience really gets it.
I have also been working with Dr Marina Soltan who works at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and has a passion for CPR being taught in schools. I have recorded a short video that she has used at a recent conference. I also support West Midlands Ambulance Service each year with Restart a Heart Day and am now looking forward to supporting Malcolm, a fellow SCA survivor, and the team at CPR Counts to ensure as many people as possible are taught CPR.