Blowout at Killington

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Blowout at Killington

On Jan 14th,2013 I was skiing at Killington in Vermont (I was a ski bum for the season) My motto is Go big or Go home. I started ski racing for SKLTN and made it to 16th place in the Bud light ski bum races out of over 100 skiers. My goal was to be top 10 or even top 5. On my 2ndrun that day I saw the UConn ski team training and I tried to copy what they were doing. They were going 1-2 mph using their edges on Superstar headwall. So on my 4-5th turn I started to feel funny and my legs were going numb from the bottom up and I was getting hot and cold sweats and felt a little dizzy. It was very scary at this point and I felt as I was dying, having a stroke or a heart attack. I thought of my friend Yoshi who just died a few weeks before at 51 of esophagus cancer. And thought am I going to die now? By the way I'm in great shape better than people ½ my age and am very healthy, I do extreme sports like barefoot water skiing, wakeboarding, sky skiing, kite surfing, Ferrari racing, snowmobile racing, go carting to name a few. I remember seeing on a TV show how to test if you're having a stroke. I knew that if I could put my arms over my head it wasn't a stroke and I could do that, so the next thing was a possible heart attack. I remember seeing on a TV show to keep coughing to get air into my lungs and heart. So I did and once I got ¾ of the way down and it started to really get hard to turn but I kept coughing and was able to get down to the bottom and proceeded to go to ski patrol in Killington base lodge. It was very hard to get my skies off and getting into the lodge. When I got into the lodge I alerted the bartender and told him I wasn't feeling well. So he went down to get the ski patrol and by the time he came back I had the energy to make it down the stairs to ski patrol. So he walked me down and I met Peggy and told her my story and she put me on oxygen and called for an ambulance. I told them I knew Chuckie Major who uses to work with them but passed away last year at a very young age. Vern was nice enough to go to my car and get my wallet so I would have my insurance card and money. He also got my skis and poles from outside and said they would take care of them until I come back. At that time I lost my vision and I couldn't see my iphone. I posted my story on facebook and the prayers started at that point. From this point on almost a thousand friends, family and friends of friends we staying tuned to see whether I was going to live or die. It lasted 3-4 days, which my sister printed out 52 pages of messages and get well wishes. (see below) It was like watching a movie about me. I don't remember much at this point. The ambulance took me to Rutland hospital and the 1st Dr who saw me was Dr. Brydon Ayres (head of ER) and am not sure what he did to me and the 2nd Dr. was Robert Tello and he was the one who diagnosis me with aorta dissection thank God. This is what John Ritter and Princess Diana died from. I heard he was mis-diagnosis as a heart attack. They decided to air lift me to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon NH. Once I got there I remember speaking to Dr. DiScipio and he informed me that I might die and had a 15% chance to live, I told him shit happens (I was ok with dying). The Drs. couldn't believe I was ok with dying. So I asked him if I could call my Mom. He said yes so I called her and told her I may die and I love her I also told her I'm at Dartmouth Medical Center in NH and she said I love you too and will be right there. Then the Dr. said sign here and whisked me away and the next thing I know I woke up 2 days later and my Mom was there and I smiled and I said where am I and when can I ski again. Apparently later on the Dr. told me I had both feet in the grave and was holding on with my hands to a banana peel and not many people survive this. My Aorta was bad on the top, side, heal and which made my chances of survival even less. Thank God for the prayer chain that all my sisters and friends on face book started. I had over 1,000+ people praying for me and scared the you know what out of my family and friends. I read all the facebook posts and it makes me cry. But that makes it easy to blow my nose as from the cutting open of my sternum it's very hard to blow my nose, go to the bathroom, shower and dry myself, sleep, get out of bed and sit and get up. So reading how people feel about me and are praying for me makes me cry. Once I got out of the hospital (19 days later) we were told to stay close to the hospital for a week and come back next Friday and we'll do a eko cardio gram and see if you can go back to NJ with Mom. It was a rough week. We stayed at the ski house I rented for the season which was right at the bottom of Pico Mountain. I had travelling nurses come and see me 3 times a week and would check on me and take my blood so they could tell me how much of the warfarin/Coumadin to take. The level they were trying have me at was 2.5-3.0 and one day it read 6.3. When I would stand up I was out of breath and exhausted. (Little did we know fluids were building up inside my heart and lungs) and that is why I had NO energy. I could have died once again. So when Friday came my Mom drove me to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire. It was a really painful ride as every bump and sharp turn killed me. And I had several tests and once the Dr. Saw the results he went looking for us in the lunch hall and finally found us and he said I'm so sorry but we can't let Jeff go home and have to omit him back into the hospital immediately as he has fluids on and around his heart and lungs. We both were in shock as it has been 19 days so far and were going nuts and wanted to go home. My Mom was still strong at this time. I asked the Dr. as I started to cry “am I going to live” and he said yes we need to do 2 procedures on you to remove the fluids in and around you heart and lungs. Fluids must have built up inside of me during the operation. Every time they weighed me during my stay the 1st time my weight was 186-192lbs which I never weighted over 187 and it must have been the fluids inside of me. This is why I had no energy. So they omitted me to Iccu again and got me ready for the procedure to drain the fluids from my heart. It was very painful as I was awake during the whole thing and saw on the TV monitors what they were doing. I saw my heart beating and the drain tubes in and around my heart. I thought it was cool what they were doing. Once I got back to my room It wasn't that painful and could deal with these big needles right under my heart. Now it was time to drain my lungs. They told me I would be awake during the procedure and they were going to use smaller needles than the one used on my heart. They gave me 150 mg of pain killer and there was no pain during the procedure. But once I got back to my room and they moved me back into my bed the pain started. It took 6 nurses to try to make me feel comfortable but I just couldn't breathe. (My Mom witnessed this and after 19 days of being by my side and not losing it, she lost it and we had to send her to the hotel across the street and make her take off the next day from seeing me. She went to a glass blowing studio, a museum and a tour of some beautiful waterfalls). One of the nurses was pregnant and when I saw her I felt a little better but in 1 minute I couldn't breathe again. Every time I would take a breath it would contract from the pressure from the machine they plug into the draining tubes. This was the most painful thing I went thru during the 1 month stay. From 6pm-12am I have never been in so much pain in my life. My poor Mom knew and felt my pain. Poor Mother must have felt so bad. She felt hopeless. After many oxy codone's the pain finally went away at 12am (thanks Kathy best nurse I had, she loved gate horses). What a relief it was. WOW I wish that on no one. The tubes stayed in for 1-2 days and did the job of draining all the fluids out of me. Now I weighted my old weight. I was finally released from the hospital after the 5th day. BTW the hospital food was great and I never lost my appetite. And the ride home was kind of painful as it took 6 ½ hours to get home.


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Thanks for sharing. It gave me a fright. I noticed that it happened in January, you must have been fully recovered by now.

Oct 16, 2013 - 12:58 PM by gafgf n

What a great recount of a terrible incident Jeff. Thank you so much for sharing. How's it going now? How are you feeling and what can you do now that you couldn't a few months ago? Keep the stories coming.

Apr 29, 2013 - 6:48 PM by B Randall W

Jeffrey - Wow that is some story and set of events you went through. First let me welcome you to the healtheo360 community, I am so glad you are here and sharing your stories to help others. Second, I think someone upstairs has a bigger plan for you in life my friend. Not only once but twice you almost died in a very short period of time. With all the pain you had to go through, I can't even imagine what your mom had to go through. I can't even picture myself going through that with one of my children. Also, You are lucky you were in such great shape which most likely got you through this event. Please keep up posted on how you are making out and I look forward to hearing more of your recovery. As Always - Be Well. Dave

Apr 26, 2013 - 4:49 PM by David D

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