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Richard's Story

My name is Richard Gryschuk , I am 58 years old, a husband with two grown and married children and one awesome grandson of 18 months.  I have always enjoyed sports whether it be watching, coaching or playing.  I mainly focused on team sports like hockey and baseball and also enjoy playing a round of golf or two.  About 15yrs ago I began running and swimming. I have since completed 6 marathons and been part of a triathlon team.  I have worked as a an architectural technologist (draftsman) for over 37yrs.  Mostly a desk job so staying active is important to me.

Back in the summer of 2013 I began to experience shortness of breath and fatigue when trying to exert myself.  As a precaution I went in for a stress test to determine the cause.  The result was a quintuple (5) by-pass surgery on September 30th.  After the surgery and recovery period I went back to my normal routine incorporating bootcamps.  Swimming laps at Lakewood had become part of my daily routine.   Leave the house about 5:45am and return about 7am in time to get ready for work. 

Fast forward to May 2016,  Our son and his wife were in Europe travelling when we got word that our Daughter-in-law's grandfather had pass away.  Knowing they would not be able to make the funeral we decided to go in their place.  The funeral was set for the Tuesday after the May long weekend in Regina.  We planned on leaving early Tuesday morning as the funeral was set for later that day.  I had not planned on going swimming that day but when I woke up early I thought "what the H.." I've got time to get in a few laps before we leave.  I indicated to Wendy (my wife) that I would make sure I was finished and back by 7 so our plans could remain the same.  I arrived at Lakewood civic center and went through my usual routine getting into the pool before the rest of the regular crowd shows up.  To this day from the point of finishing my 30 minute workout and stretching at the side of the pool, my storey and my life was in the hands of those around and on duty that day.  I was told the Lifeguard on Duty Jordon Dorsey saw me with my arms folded on the side of the pool and head down.  She had tried to talk with me, but I wasn't responding which she knew wasn't my demeanor.  She instinctively with the assistance of a fellow swimmer got me out of the pool.  She had others near dry and area of the pool deck so she could begin CPR and got the other staff members to call 911 and retreive the AED which was on site.  Prior to the Paramedics arriving she had used the AED 4 times trying to revive me.  As luck would have it a friend of mine Jeff Anthony was working that day. Not to imply all paramedics don't take every case the same but he told me after that when he saw it was me he wasn't stopping until he got me back.  It took them another 8 hits with the defibrillator before they got me stable enough to move to the ambulance.  Apparently on route, I cold cocked the parametic when i became conscious.  I did apologize when I found out but he indicated it was his fault as the fight reflex happens often.  As traumatic as this all was for me, it in my opinion was a worse for my wife, Heck I can't even remember any of it.  She however, had to experience a police officer knocking on the door at 7am, wanting to explain where I was and what was happening. 

I was in the ICC unit for 2 days before being moved onto the cardiac ward.  I can recall leaving the elevator on the 6th floor wondering why we hadn't left for the funeral yet.  I had burns on my back from lying on the damp pool deck while the AED was administered.  They have since faded but they did make a nice checker board pattern.

 The only explanation the doctors were able to come up with for my sudden cardiac arrest was potentially a signal in my heart had hit some scar tissue from the previous surgery.  They don't believe much damage was caused by the event.  After a few days of recovery I had an ICD (Implantable Cardiovertor Defibulator) implanted into my chest. It performs a dual roll one it keeps my pulse at a manageable rate and secondly and most important is capable of shocking the heart back into rhythm should a similar event happen.

I've been told having a heart even and being "hit" 12 times and surviving doesn't happen often, let alone being able to carry on one's life as if it was just a hiccup is something I will forever be grateful for.

It has been 3 1/2 years since that day and looking back I think about all the things that went right for me.  What if, I had not chosen to go swimming that morning, would I have been still in bed or maybe even worse driving down to Regina.  Neither of these locations would have had an AED close by.  What if, Jordon (the regular lifeguard) hadn't been on duty that day, would someone else had taken my lack of conversation for just another guy that was tired and not wanting to talk.  What if, the staff at Lakewood hadn't been so well prepared to assist her until the paramedics showed up.  What if, my friend Jeff hadn't been the one to take over....  I am grateful for all the medical team that have given me a chance to live my life as normal as possible and to experience the birth of my first grandson, the wedding of my daughter and so many other fabulous adventures.

I was someone who exercised routinely, was physically active and had no indication that this would or could happen to me even with my previous heart issues.  What I know now is a heart event such as mine, can happen to anyone anywhere and at any time.  Being close to an AED when my heart event happened was truly life giving and having an AED close can prevent a heart event from being fatal.

 On bended knee,  Thanks to everyone that did their part that day.

 Richard Gryschuk

An AED like this saved Richard's life

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