Merrifield man survives cardiac arrest
But somehow everything fell into place April 27 — the day Greg’s heart stopped beating.
“I was dead for 11 minutes,” he said. “I don’t say that lightly.”
“The circumstances orchestrated so beautifully to allow him to survive,” said Greg’s wife, Joyce Ranweiler.
Had the couple chosen a different hotel or been placed on another floor, Greg may not have made it. Or if the Ranweilers stayed home that weekend.
Joyce, who is notorious for misplacing her cellphone, for some reason had the device in hand when she found her husband collapsed face down on the floor not breathing, his heart still.
She dropped to her knees in their Janesville, Wis., hotel room and dialed 911.
The petite woman mustered up the strength to flip Greg’s lifeless body over, one hand on his belt, the other on his shirt.
The 911 dispatcher walked her through the steps of CPR. Though Joyce had only seen the procedure done on TV, she followed the beat the dispatcher sounded out to her. Three minutes in, a nurse staying down the hall of the hotel walked by the Ranweiler’s fifth-floor room. The nurse had run out of coffee cups and decided to take the long way downstairs to the front desk. That’s when she heard Joyce counting. It was a familiar rhythm. She knew it was the beat of CPR.
“Can I help?” the nurse asked, peeking her head inside the door. For the next six minutes, the nurse performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
It took five shocks with an automated external defibrillator (AED) before Greg took his first breath. More than 11 minutes had gone by.
“The paramedics told me it takes one or two times for most people,” Greg said of the AED. “They didn’t think I would come back.”
At 64, Greg has never had any major health problems. His heart has very little plaque buildup and he didn’t feel any signs that day that something was coming.
Doctors still aren’t quite sure why Greg suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.
His chance of survival from the episode was no greater than 10 percent. At the hospital, staff dubbed him “the miracle man.”
Looking back, Greg and Joyce know the situation was more than just a series of coincidences. There are just far too many.
“It is clear God was so involved in the situation,” Greg said.
The couple was in Janesville to watch their grandson’s soccer tournament. They chose this tournament out of the four they could have gone to. The hotel in Rockford, Ill., where the game was, was full, so the pair ended up in Janesville.
Should they have chosen a different game and been home that Saturday in Merrifield, Greg and Joyce thought he would have had a different outcome.
“The emergency response time is a lot longer out here,” Joyce said. “There’s no way I could have done CPR that long.”
As Greg was being loaded into the ambulance April 27, a doctor, who was staying at the same hotel, jumped in to help stabilize him.
“Not many people are lucky enough to have an actual doctor in the ambulance with them,” he said.
Greg doesn’t remember the episode, or most of the day Saturday until Wednesday when the hospital drugs started to wear off.
Greg cried when he was told what happened.
“It was pretty emotional,” he said. “It was tough to realize.”
He’s still trying to work through what happened that day, how things could have been different.
“Just one thing,” Joyce said. “Just one thing could have changed the whole situation for the worse.”
A quick glance at Greg today, and one couldn’t tell he’s suffered such a life-altering event.
There are no physical limitations or memory loss. The only evidence is a chipped tooth from the fall and a sore chest from CPR.
He embraces the trauma as a wake-up call to take life a bit slower.
He’s been retired for two years, but never really slowed down much. Now, he’s spending more time at home with his wife.
He’s trying not to feel guilty for taking a few minutes to sit down and do nothing.
And every morning after he wakes up, Greg thanks God he’s alive for another day, though he still thinks about why he was spared.
One thing for sure, though, is that Greg must tell his story.
“Things can happen so quick in life,” he said. “Make sure you have everything figured out in regard to your salvation. If you’re 15, 20 or 64, you don’t know how much time you have left...If through this, one person accepts God or realizes something is off in their life, it’s all worth it.”
JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.