Disclaimer: This post is the best way I can describe my Husband’s condition in my own words. Always consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.
I hope you are all having a great Monday so far! This has been weighing on my heart for over a year now, and I have finally decided to share with all of you the condition Ashton has called “Neurocardiogenic Syncope”. I had never heard of this condition until Ashton was diagnosed with it, and I have learned so much more about it since then. First, I will tell the story about how it all began:
The Night He Went to the Hospital
It was October 14, 2016 (a Friday). I always easily remember the date, because it was also the day after my birthday. We had lots of fun plans for the weekend, and I had no idea about what was going to happen next. Ashton came home from work, we ate dinner, and we all sat down to watch a movie (Ashton, Lana, and I). Ashton got up to go to the kitchen, and then he walked back into the living room. Next thing I knew, he had collapsed right in front of me on the floor. The first natural thought that crossed my mind was that he was just joking around, but then he didn’t move.
I tried to get him to wake up, and he finally came around. He was really lucky that he hadn’t hurt his head or anything else when he fell. He was clearly out of it, his hands and feet felt heavy and numb, and he said his heart felt like it was barely beating. We decided to call the nurse hotline. The nurse told me to take him to the Emergency Room immediately. I grabbed as much stuff for Lana as I could, got her in the carseat, and Ashton got in the passenger seat.
The Moment His Heart Stopped
Every second that went by on the way to the hospital, I was so terrified that something bad was going to happen. We quickly got to the ER, and they took us back to a really tiny room. They started to put a needle in his arm, and he panicked. Ashton has always been really bad with needles. All of a sudden his eyes rolled back, his body started jerking, and then the worst happened.
He flatlined. His heart stopped, and I started praying to God to please not let this be it. It was way too soon. He was just 26. I started having horrible thoughts cross my mind, like Lana and I having to live a life without him. Then 7 LONG seconds later, he came back to us. The nurses had been panicking and trying to get the doctor back in the room and were about to get the paddles out. At this point, I was relieved and absolutely terrified at the same time. I had been holding Lana this entire time, while also saying Ashton’s name over and over trying to get him to come back to us.
They quickly got Ashton to a better room with more equipment, and every second I was nervous that it would happen again. I could go into so much detail about every minute that went by and what I was told, but I will skip ahead to when they decided to keep him in Intensive Care over night to be safe. Ashton was completely exhausted at this point, and he looked like he was finally sleeping in peace. Lana and I slept in the chair next to him that night. I didn’t want her to leave my sight in case something happened again, and I wanted her to be with us as much as possible. I guess that was the best way I could cope with the situation.
We Found Out Ashton Has Neurocardiogenic Syncope
The next morning Ashton was acting more himself, and we were all excited to have some breakfast in the room. After that, his heart doctor came in and let us know that nothing was wrong with his heart (thank goodness). The doctor told us that Ashton had a condition called “Neurocardiogenic Syncope”. I obviously had to ask a ton of questions about what that means and what Ashton and I should do to prevent anything else bad from happening.
To put this as simply as possible, Neurocardiogenic Syncope or NCS is a condition where your heart and brain miscommunicate and overreact to specific situations. Certain triggers (needles, stress, blood, physical pain, emotional distress) cause Ashton’s heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. This leads to reduced blood flow to his brain, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.
How We Prevent Similar Occurrences from Happening
The good thing about Ashton’s condition is that it is self-treatable. He has to consistently eat throughout the day (every meal and snack in-between), and he needs to eat lots of sodium and stay hydrated. Caffeine and alcohol are also supposed to be avoided when possible. He can have a little bit of coffee and a beer every now and then, but it is best to not have very much. Sticking to this routine and trying to avoid stress will keep Ashton from having another episode from his condition.
For more information about Neurocardiogenic Syncope, click here.
Our Present Day Situation
It has been about a year and a half since Ashton went to the hospital for his condition, and he had been doing very well until more recently when he quit following his food routine. For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that we had to make a family trip to the doctor last week during some yucky Winter weather.
Ashton had woken up at 5 AM in a lot of pain due to his knee, and then his condition caused him to partially lose consciousness in reaction to the pain. With his condition, his eyes can just roll back, and he doesn’t respond to me for several seconds or longer (so scary). He didn’t completely pass out. He finally snapped out of it and responded to me. His pain is what woke me up, and then I saw everything that happened after that. I called the Nurse hotline again, and she setup a doctor appointment for later that morning. If he had completely passed out, we probably would have been at the hospital instead.
We went to his doctor appointment, and we easily concluded that part of what happened could be controlled by Ashton going back to his regular food routine that’s best for preventing NCS episodes. However, we weren’t sure what caused the severe pain in his knee. They scheduled a blood test for the next day (they didn’t want him to deal with a needle too soon and have a similar situation happen like before when his heart stopped, since he was still weak). We got his blood test results back, and we found out that he was extremely low on Vitamin D. That is what most likely caused the knee pain. So he is now taking a TON of Vitamin D for that, as well. He is doing better and is focusing on getting his routine back to normal.
Moral of the Story
My number one reason for my blog and social media platforms is that they help support my family and allow me to have lots of time with Lana. It has become my full time job, just like anyone else who goes to the office from 8 to 5. The only difference is that it allows me to stay home with Lana. Another big reason is that it allows me to share things that may help some of you, and it also gives me a creative outlet.
I hope that this post may help someone who might be dealing with or who knows someone dealing with Neurocardiogenic Syncope or NCS. It can be quite the journey, and just know that you are not alone. It’s also important to point out that you should always continue following your doctor’s orders. It’s easy to start feeling better and think that you don’t really need to follow the same routine anymore. I’m sure we have all done it. Here’s the key: following your doctor’s orders is what’s making you feel better in the first place.
Personal Stress and Community
Many of you also know about what happened with our daughter, Lana, at the end of December. If not, you can read the blog post about her trip to the hospital here. As you can probably guess, some of her symptoms at that time were very scary to me, because they reminded me of Ashton’s symptoms. I knew that they were completely different, but it was still very traumatic.
If any of you are dealing with personal stress or health issues, know that you are not alone. We are all going through things in life. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such a beautiful community of people with caring hearts, and just know that you can always email me with any questions or just to talk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am so thankful for Ashton every single day, and I constantly thank God for the wonderful Husband and Father that he is. Hold onto your loved ones, and cherish what you are thankful for in life as much as you can. 🙂
I will talk to you all soon!