Last week, 2011 USA Weightlifting National Champion Jon North suffered a cardiac arrest while visiting the zoo with his wife, Jessica Lee North, and young son. After a successful surgery to install a defibrillator implant, North has returned home to recover, where he’s at work on a new blog. Titled “The Light Orchestra” — apparently a play on his old blog and website, The Dark Orchestra — North recounts his memory from that day, as well as the recovery process and road he’s facing ahead.
From The Light Orchestra’s first post:
The doctors have good news and possibly some unfortunate news to my family who all waited for me to wake up in the ICU room they moved me to after the doctors worked on me in the surgery room for over 3 hours trying to keep me alive. The good news is I was going to live. My family was very happy. Another chance to see my son grow up strong, happy and tall. Another chance to spend my life with my best friend, Jessica. Another chance to have a chance to have another beautiful baby. But I wasn’t out of the clear yet, this was only the beginning. Due to me being dead for 18 minutes it was highly possible that I would have brain damage. My family buckled and lost it. I laid in the bed alive and at rest, but the doctors and my family had no idea if I would be the same me once I woke up.
North, who appears to have avoided any significant brain damage during the episode, goes on to detail what the medical team told him regarding the cause of the cardiac arrest — which North says he suffered while also technically suffering a heart attack.
There is no conclusion paragraph because we still have lots to learn about my heart. The good news is I qualified for a very new, rare and hard to get heart shocker that actually goes into my side. The technical name of the device is, Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator. The reason this device is preferable compared to traditional defibrillators or pace makers, is because there are no actual leads, wires, or anything attached to my heart. This device is like a robot, working in my body tracking my heart beats, heart rhythm and blood flow pumping through my heart. Believe it or not, my heart shocker has wifi. It communicates to a box in my home that then sends data to my doctors every day. This is very important because, I went home without a definitive diagnosis. After all of the tests, research, and imaging of my heart, the doctors came to the conclusion that my heart is abnormal in two ways. One, the walls of my heart are very thick, structurally abnormal, and therefore, my heart does not pump correctly. Two, there are electrical issues wrong with my heart, so the two top chambers of my heart do not communicate correctly to the bottom chambers, making it possible for it to get off rhythm and go in to ventricular tachycardia, or vtach. This bad rhythm is what caused my cardiac arrest. The bottom of my heart was beating so fast and out of rhythm, that the top of my heart could not keep up and blood could not get in. Therefore, my heart was pumping dry, which caused it to stop, and caused enough damage that I technically suffered both cardiac arrest and a heart attack. What my heart shocker does, is track all of this and if my heart every gets out of rhythm and goes into vtach again, my heart shocker will shock it just like paddles in a hospital and get it back into the correct rhythm.
It’s unclear what’s next for North as far as his athletic career. The former California Strength lifter and Pan American team member is currently serving a USADA sanction “for an anti-doping rule violation due to his failure to properly file whereabouts information.” In recent years, he’s taken up competitive bodybuilding while still training in weightlifting.
North also maintained a busy seminar and writing schedule in the months leading up to his cardiac arrest.
Featured image: @attitudenation on Instagram