Rick’s Story

Site created on October 1, 2018

Rick was at work on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 27 when his heart failed and he fell over onto his desk. Several of his coworkers heard the thud and rushed in to help him. One of them, Becky, began giving CPR. She saved his life - the doctor said had she not been there, Rick would have died, so praise God for amazing coworkers! We later learned that he experienced ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia, and he also had asystole. They brought him to the ICU where they cooled his body down to 92 degrees for 24 hours to prevent further damage to his brain and other organs, after which they warmed him up and as of Saturday, September 29 he is awake, breathing on his own. They determined that he experienced something called "Sudden Cardiac Death" (not a heart attack - he had no warning signs that anything was wrong, his heart just stopped suddenly and he blacked out). Most people simply die from SCD without warning, but thanks to his wonderful coworkers he is alive and walking around today.

His short term memory was shaky at first: He kept asking me the same questions over and over, and forgot conversations he just had and even forgot about people visiting. Thankfully his memory is improving as his body recovers from the trauma. Brain scans came back normal, so they know the problem is with his heart. He was released from the ICU on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

On Thursday, Oct. 4 (a week after he collapsed at work) they released him from the hospital wearing a Life Vest - a device he wore under his clothes that monitored his heart and, if necessary, would shock him if his heart stopped again. In December we decided to seek a second opinion with a more aggressive doctor to figure out why a healthy 37 year old man with no family history of heart problems would suddenly have heart failure. On December 7 we drove down to Lexington and Rick's new doctor did an EP study and then implanted a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Rick was ultimately diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder affecting the electrical workings of the heart.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Ricky Teachey

This is Rick- wanted to update everyone on the- sort of- final chapter of this late journey I have been on.

We did receive the genetic testing results back a couple weeks ago, and I have tested negative for all known Brugada Syndrome genetic markers, or for any other markers known to cause sudden cardiac death. This is good news in the sense that I don't have any additional genetic conditions that could have contributed to my collapse and SCD.

This is not all "good news", though. It has been confirmed- via the "procainamide challenge" of my heart during the EP study- that I definitely have Brugada. The genetic testing result just means that I do not have the known markers that cause it. The current belief is that Brugada is always genetic, they simply have not discovered all the markers. So I probably have markers that haven't been discovered yet.

This means that, since there are no known markers to find, we cannot genetically test family members (including our 3 kids, my sister and brother, and my parents) to determine if any of them may have Brugada. Instead, we can only wonder.

We will of course pursue this health issue with regards to the kids down the road. My understanding at this point is that pediatric Brugada cases are extremely, vanishingly rare, and it will only be later in the kids' lives that it will become a concern. At that point it will probably be recommended that they undergo regular ECGs, looking for the electrical patterns that indicate Brugada. If these are found, an ICD such as I have now might be a good option.

I very much thank everyone who has taken this journey with me. We are not at the end- the pile of medical bills on our kitchen counter remind me of that every day!, haha, my incisions are still healing, and I will have to have my device swapped out every 6 or 7 years. But I'm grateful to be alive and to be able to see my kids grow up, and to hold my wife's hand.

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