I spent two long weeks at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The first two days I was unconscious. Once I awoke, I had no short term memory. A bunch of people had sent me “Get Well” cards. My mom would hand me one. I would read it and smile. Then I would put it down and immediately ask to read the same card, like I had never read it again. Then, someone would walk in the room and I could tell them something that happened years ago. It was very frustrating for those around me and doctors weren’t sure if my short term memory would ever come back. I went through a multitude of testing and eventually diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. My cardiologist said that based on my circumstances and with there being no AED on site, my chances of survival were one in a million. She also delivered some crushing news: I would no longer be able to play competitive basketball. Everything I had worked for over the years was taken away from me, in one second. I had a defibrillator surgically implanted. After 14 long days, I was finally able to go home. Although I was relieved to leave the hospital, I was anxious and nervous about living with this condition….more later – Mike
Eventually the counselors escorted all of the campers out of the gym. Someone called 9-1-1 implying that a teenager had a broken bone. Quickly, after a second 9-1-1 call came through saying a 17-year-old boy was on the ground and unconscious. My hero, Bob, was working his job in a building next door to the Parks and Recreation Center. He lso served as a volunteer EMT. He typically didn’t have his pager on while working. For some reason, that day, he did. He got the call and came over to the scene where he found me on the ground, turning blue. I was taking agonal breaths; the last breaths you take before you die. He immediately took control of the entire situation and started performing CPR. He performed it perfectly, saving my life, and my brain. He sustained me until an AED came in the ambulance. They shocked my heart back to a normal heart rhythm. I was quickly rushed in the ambulance to Mid-State Medical Center in Meriden, CT. Meanwhile, my brother and my best friend, stood in the lobby of the building shocked about what had just happened. A cop walked in the door and announced out loud he was there to report the death of a 17-year-old male from earlier that morning….
At the age of 17, my life seemed perfect. I was heading into my senior year of high school, I had a good group of friends, and most importantly, my dreams were coming true. My dream growing up was always to play basketball in college. It was something I dedicated my life to. I played all year round and spent my summers working out in gyms with my brother John and my best friend Conor. It started to become a lifestyle. The spring and summer heading into my senior year was a big one in terms of getting recruited by colleges. As I played in the spring colleges started watching. I started getting letters sent to my house. Coaches were calling my parents and me to sell their university. It was a very exciting time for everyone. Everything I had worked for my whole life was starting to pay off.
On August 24, 2006, my entire life changed, in one second. I woke up that morning with my brother. We went to our school where we would complete our daily basketball workout. Following the workout, we went to the local recreation center where we were both serving as counselors for my father’s basketball camp. At about 8:30 that morning I changed my shirt and that is the last thing I remember from that day. Apparently, two hours later around 10:30 as I was sitting on the bleachers coaching some kids during their game, I slumped over onto the floor. People thought it was a joke. Someone came over and told me to get up.
The trainer froze. There was no AED on site. I was in cardiac arrest.