It seems life sometimes moves by us fast. So fast that we can only focus on the moment.
On Tuesday May 15th my brother and sister in law Bill Bozek and Sooz Albright were on there way up to Wisconsin from their home in Downers Grove Illinois. They found a coupon for a local hotel and were looking forward to some fun shopping, site-seeing, and enjoying the local culture in a short two day road trip. On that day their lives took a dramatic change.
It was the morning of the 15th, and they were close to their hotel. Bill was driving their Pontiac Vibe, and Sooz was reading the map they printed out to find the hotel. They were driving about 35 miles an hour on College Ave in South Milwaukee, just 400 feet from Lake Street. Just then Bill passed out from an apparent heart attack. They ran off the road and collided with a mailbox and then came to a stop when their car hit a utility pole. They were both wearing seat belts and their air bags deployed, which was the 1st thing that prevented them from meeting their maker.
Sooz was conscious after the accident, was able to get out of the vehicle, walk around it, and pull Bill out of the vehicle. This in itself was remarkable, since Bill is a husky man, and she had a cracked sternum and a broken hand. When she got him out of the car a miracle happened.P
An angle appeared. Cynthia Schulz an ER nurse at a local hospital was the 1st person on the scene. Many people would not even stop, and only a small portion of the population would have the skill to save him. As a trained nurse, she began giving Bill CPR until an ambulance arrived. There is no doubt that this saved his life. If she had arrived just a couple of minutes later, Bill might be alive, but in a coma or mentally limited due to a lack of oxygen to his brain, a fate worse most would agree is worse than death.
Minutes after the ambulance arrived and loaded him up for his trip to Froedtert Hospital, they were forced to use the paddles and shock his heart to keep it going. These EMT's kept his heart beating, and kept him alive, until he arrived at the hospital. Another group of hero's were attending to Sooz, who took the brunt of the coalition, when the passenger side of the car hit the pole.
As they arrived at the hospital, teams of people began attending to both Bill and Sooz. Our family learned about the accident when Sooz was more coherent, and after hours of emergency room care that kept Bill alive.
Bill and Sooz are some of the nicest people you will find on the planet. Rarely do either of them ask for help, in fact, they are regularly the people providing help for others. Bill regularly spends Sundays with his 91 year old mother, who requires full time care, and both were preparing to help at a charity event for Misericordia, a Chicagoland organization that specializes in helping adults and children with special needs. So, when a call came in with the news that they had been involved in a serious car crash, all of their family members began their two hour trip up to Milwaukee. You can imagine all of the things that went through our minds during the drive up. Around 5:30 PM a group of 15 family members began arriving at the hospital from the suburbs of Chicago. It was then that we began learning the story of their life changing day.
At 6:00 PM, we found out that Bill was going to require surgery on his heart. Since heart surgery has become more common, and the initial information was that he would need triple bypass surgery, our concern and fear slightly reduced and we became more optimistic and hopeful. We found out he was scheduled to be in the operating room for 3.5 hours. We were told that Dr. Rashid was one of the best heart surgeons, and also found out that Froedtert was one of the best hospitals in the nation for persons with heart issues. This information slightly reduced our concerns. There was little information that come in from the operating room, but we were told this was normal for Dr. Rashid, who put all of his energies into focusing on his patient. When 10:00 PM came around, and he had not come out of the operating room, we grew more concerned. The next two hours were very stressful for us. He was still on the table, and we were not getting any news until after 1:00 AM when Dr. Rashid came in to visit us.
Dr. Rashid had looked like he had just completed a triathlon, and informed us that Bill had 90 percent blockage in 5 of his arteries and required Quintuple bypass surgery in addition to his 10 broken ribs. I must admit, it did not feel like the prognosis was great. He would be kept on paralyzingly drugs for a couple of days while his body healed, and then we would find out more. Two days later he was not able to come off the respirator by himself, and we continued to wait. The next day he came off the respirator and began communicating. It was a miracle!
The next week was hard for him, as he had his ups and downs, as a group of phenomenal nurses, doctors, and hospital personnel attended to him and ensured that he had great care.
As we, his family came up each day and visited him, we could not be more impressed with the miracles that happened.
I am sure if you asked each of these people, they would say that it is what is expected of them, it is their job. I must say I have to disagree. A wife with a cracked sternum and a broken hand should be lucky to pull herself out of a demolished car, it is heroic to pull her husband out too.
An ER nurse who selflessly comes to an aide of a stranger and literally breaths life back into his body is a hero.
A Doctor and his team who work into the early hours of the morning, spending 6.5 hours of intense time to keep a man alive, conducting quintuple bypass surgery, are hero's.
Caring people, who give more of themselves than anyone would ever expect, seems to be a rare thing as we read about the economy, crime, and miseries that sometimes dominate the news.
I do not think that it is rare. I think it happens more often than we know, and all we should be required to do is share their heroism, and pay it forward.
Throughout this ordeal one thing continued to happen. Everyone gave more of themselves than anyone would have expected. Great things happen when we all work together to give more of ourselves. This should be the thing that inspires us all.
Myself and my family would like to publicly thank them for their heroism, and hope their actions inspire others.
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