Another Word about my Buddy Rusty


Regular readers of this blog will remember that I lost one of my dearest friends in this life back in February, when my friend Rusty Snyder passed away suddenly. On Friday, on the way back from conference, Karen and I stopped in Nashville and had lunch with Mike, Rusty’s “little brother” (he’s like 43 now). Mike told me that, since no autopsy had been performed on Rusty, no one was certain what he had died of. The assumption that I, and many others, made was that Rusty had suffered a heart attack; his family has a history of heart-related issues. That said, he had taken meticulous care of himself, far better than I take of myself!

But Rusty had been outdoors, cutting down some “crippled” limbs from a tree that had sustained wind damage (as well as cleaning up fallen limbs from the ground). A fairly large limb had fallen on him, knocking him to the ground and, apparently, knocking him out very briefly. He’d gotten up, shaken it off, and continued working. Then, some minutes later, he’d complained of pain and tightness, as well as some other symptoms. His wife, Sherry, had taken him to the doctor, where he collapsed and never regained consciousness.

Mike, interested in knowing the truth (and a little concerned as well, of course, about congenital issues), has done a little studying and come to the conclusion that it wasn’t a heart attack that had claimed his brother’s life at all, but rather a condition where a sudden trauma (if I understand correctly) had knocked his heart dangerously out of rhythm. According to Mike, once this happens, you have about an hour to get the heart shocked back into rhythm, or you risk death. Once shocked back into rhythm, the heart sustains no damage at all; it’s as if it had never happened.

This news, this thought, leaves me with mixed feelings. I’m happy for Mike, first of all, to think that it wasn’t a congenital heart problem. At the same time, there is this real sadness in knowing that the right medical treatment, if diagnosed and applied quickly enough, might have saved his life; it is a serious but eminently-treatable condition. Overall, I’m mainly sad.

Because it still hurts…

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