Have you ever saved a life or been saved yourself?
Twenty-one years ago, my dad was choking and I had to give him the Heimlich maneuver. I was 17 years old. I’d never done that before. It was kind of an adrenaline rush. I could tell he was choking, so I raced up the stairs. I’d seen it on TV, so I thought we’ll try this and I couldn’t tell if it worked the first time, so I did it two more times for good measure and it worked, it got him breathing again.
David, Annesley and Alyse George
I was working on the roof of my shed and I fell off and I busted my leg and my heel bone. I laid there for a while, but luckily I had my cellphone in my pocket. So I called my wife, Vicky, and she came out and saved my life. I could have laid there until I was dead. She always warned me to carry my cell on me in case I really needed it.
I saved my cat Stitch. I was a freshman in high school. Someone was going to put her down but instead, I stepped in and I brought her home with me.. I had to ask my mom first and it took a little convincing but I still have her. She’s 16 years old.
My son, Jacob, was about 14 watching comedy TV and choked on a carrot. I could tell immediately that it wasn’t a regular cough. I raced in there and gave him the Heimlich. He was bigger than me, so I just kept saying, "Okay, three times that’s all I have to do and it should come out," and it did. It came shooting out across my bed. He just turned around and said, “Thanks, Mom,” and went back to watching TV. I was up until 2 in the morning shaking.
We were up on Spider Lake by Birchwood out on a two-person paddle boat where you sit up kind of high on it. We were paddling along and the other gal I was with said, “It doesn’t seem like it’s steering.” I said, “You turn it and I'll lean over and look.” When I leaned back, it tipped over. I didn’t have my life jacket on and I don’t know how to swim. My friend could swim, but I couldn’t. Some other folks in a boat nearby, dove out. I came back up and I hung onto that paddle boat and I didn’t let go until I was close enough that I could touch the bottom. It was pretty scary. It hit me that night when we were sitting by the campfire. I was pretty fortunate. It could have turned out to be a whole lot worse.
Probably not medically, I’m obviously not a nurse, doctor, EMT or anything like that, but you know if a friend is venting to you or something, you never know what is going on behind the scenes. Just by listening or helping them by talking through stuff, you could be saving someone without even knowing it. You’re going through a rough patch and your friends are just there for you. They might say something you never thought about, change your perspective and you get a second chance.
I had ovarian cancer. I was 30, very young and I had a son who wasn’t a year old yet. It was very tough to hear that diagnosis. My doctor caught it very early on and was very aggressive. Thanks to my doctor and my family and all their support, the outcome was great. The positive support was just as important as the medical treatment. You have to get to that point where you want to survive, where you have a positive attitude, where you are willing to accept what they tell you and believe them and move forward. When you have a child that’s about a year old, you have a lot to live for. It makes all your decisions doubly important.
A car pulled out in front of a semi in front of me. The accident occurred right in front of me. I pulled over. It happened to be my friend’s daughter. I didn’t even recognize her until afterwards. I designated a lady to call 911. I was just trying to get her out at that point. A couple other guys showed up and then we had enough muscle to get her out. I kind of knew she was gone, but it’s somebody’s baby and you want to try. You’d hope somebody would for your kid. I’d been through this kind of thing too many times in my life, but this one was personal. It was a student that I knew well and my friend’s daughter.
It was a motorcycle accident, a biker got clipped by a car, went down and he was bleeding pretty good. In Minnesota, every peace officer is a first responder. Primarily your mission is to stop the bleeding and keep the breathing going until EMTs get there. This guy wasn’t doing too well, he was kind of a mess. We did what we could, the rest was up to the Lord. When they take them away, we don’t find anything out afterward. It’s just move onto the next call. And there is always a next call.
Ten years ago, Easter Sunday 2009, I was ... diagnosed with meningitis. My friends called my parents in Las Vegas. My son’s godfather is a neurosurgeon. They talked to him ... . He didn't think it was meningitis at 47 years old. I was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in downtown St. Paul where I used to work. I was diagnosed with a cerebral thrombosis. A neurosurgeon did surgery. Basically I had had a massive stroke and a blood clot the size of a fist removed. Seventy-two days in the hospital, happy human. That advice saved my life, pretty much.
Carmen Van Valkenburg