Normally, when something sets our hearts aflutter it’s a good thing…
But for Jody Richardson, lifelong Orangeville resident, hair stylist, wife of Deputy Fire Chief Mike Richardson and mother of two, it’s never a good thing.
On May 22, Jody was getting ready for work when her heart started thumping and pain shot through her neck. Lightheaded and suddenly exhausted, Mike drove her straight to the Emergency Department at Headwaters Health Care Centre.
Diagnosed as an adult, Jody has a condition called atrial flutter (AF), an abnormal heart rate that occurs when the upper chambers of her heart beat faster than the bottom ones, causing her heart rhythm to be out of sync.
A normal resting heart rate for adults is 60-100 beats per minute.When Jody is in atrial flutter her heart rate spikes to 160 beats per minute.
Upon arrival, the doctor gave Jody a dose of the medication that normally calms her heart, but on that day it had no effect.
With her heart wildly fluttering and her breath catching in her throat, there was only one other thing to do – use a defibrillator to shock her heart back into a normal rhythm. The doctor placed sticky defibrillator pads on her chest and back, and then sedated Jody before sending a powerful electric shock to her heart.
She woke a few minutes later, sore but with a more normal heart beat of 62 beats per minute, grateful to be alive.
Believe it or not, Jody’s experience is far from ordinary.
Shockingly, her mother, father and brother each have a similar condition called atrial fibrillation. Rather than spiking, their heart rates rise and fall erratically.
All four have been treated multiple times in the Emergency Department at Headwaters.
Jody doesn’t know if her condition or that of her parents and brother is hereditary, but she’s worried that one day her children will also be affected.
My kids are my whole world…I want to be here for every bit of their lives…and for my parents and my brother. Something as simple as a defibrillator can make the difference between life and death. It can save my life. Plain and simple.