Highlighting our readers’ experiences with heart disease from their own
perspective. We’re always looking for contributions, so please send us
yours. Before submitting, please review our Writer’s Guidelines.
ometimes it takes a life-changing event to
shift your perspective on what’s important in
life, and no event is more life-changing than
death. Since my own death in November
2014, I have learned more about living.
It was a cold, snowy day when I collapsed on the couch
at home in full cardiac arrest. My wife Angela’s quick thinking
to call 911, the paramedic’s timely arrival and their paddles
brought me back to life. I was dead for 12 minutes. It took
five jolts of their defibrillator to bring me back, and some
good doctors and nurses to keep me alive.
When I came out of the coma and off the ventilator a
few days later, I heard the same thing over and over: It
was a miracle that you survived.
This was my second flirtation with death due to a
damaged heart. The first occurred nearly 40 years ago. I
was born with a hole in my heart and a pinched valve, which
required several complex heart surgeries. One, which was
meant to last four hours, lasted 24 due to complications.
Twelve minutes of death at age 52 caused a lot of self-reflection. Here are some things that my death taught me
Appreciate your true supporters.
I discovered the support of my wife and daughter
Marissa are invaluable and give my life meaning.
It’s never too soon to tackle your bucket list
of important dreams.
A few years ago, I put “published writer” on my bucket
list. (When you have congenital heart issues, you make
a bucket list early.) The day I died, I got a job blogging
for Dayton Parent Magazine. I have also published two
children’s books and appeared in multiple editions of
Chicken Soup for the Soul. And now here, in Heart Insight.
Tell your kids you love them every time you
say goodbye or goodnight.
Earlier the day I died, my wife said I spoke to Marissa at
college. Since I had no memory of that day, I feared that I
had not told her “I love you” when we hung up. Truly, I am
here to tell you that “You never know when you are going
to die” and “Love life and appreciate each day; it could be
your last” are not clichés, they are good advice.
Let others know when you’re hurting;
don’t bottle up your feelings.
Prior to that day and for several months afterward, I
was holding in some hurt feelings. The bitterness gnawed
at me, and because I kept quiet, I kept hurting. I have
learned to reduce my stress by letting others know when
I feel slighted or disrespected. I was given a second
chance to get things off my chest, but I could have died
with those feelings bottled up inside of me!
A surgery you have as a child (or that your child
has) does not assure a lifelong cure.
Just now, experts in pediatric cardiology are learning
about the secondary effects of these complex operations.
Had I followed this more closely and met with experts, I
The Day I Died
By David Warren, Survivor | Kettering, Ohio
Survivor David Warren with his daughter Marissa and wife Angela