SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Jim and Peggy Hays hardly come across an adventure they’d pass on, but on a ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in March 2020, the adventure almost turned deadly.
“He just looked at me and he said, ‘Babe I do not feel very good,’ He went like this and went this on his left side down like a tin soldier,” Peggy said.READ MORE: Firefighters Make All-Out Effort to Contain Explosive River Fire Near Colfax
Peggy, an anesthesiologist, frantically called for help. Luckily, an ER doctor on vacation came to her side and both used their medical training to keep her husband alive.
“His heart had just stopped as soon as he had arrived. I started breaths. He started compressions. It felt like a lifetime until the ski patrol came,”
What felt like a lifetime was only about 15 minutes according to Peggy. She said that the ski patrol did wonders to stabilize Jim before moving down the mountain.
“I can’t believe this is happening, it’s that whole thing,” Peggy said.
But, she didn’t lose hope as Jim received what Peggy called amazing medical care.
Jim and Peggy told CBS13 that he flatlined at least six times before being stable enough to be transported to an Idaho hospital.
There Peggy was told that Jim was given just a 5 percent chance to live at the time. She said the doctors at the hospital told her Jim had suffered a heart attack commonly referred to as a “widowmaker.”
Jim was eventually treated and fitted with a heart pump before being moved to a Utah hospital for more treatment. All of this happened as the pandemic began to surge and hospital visitation restrictions were setting in.
“We FaceTimed probably about five to six times a day. And the whole team, I would just FaceTime with them on morning rounds,” Peggy said.READ MORE: 'Everything Is Gone': Colfax Residents Lose Homes In Devastating River Fire
“For me, it was just there is no feeling sorry for yourself. Just work on getting better and work on being as much as a whole person as you can be again,” Jim said.
After more than a month away from home, they were settling into life in the pandemic.
“So, I was probably a little inwardly focused. But once we got out of the hospital a few days later and seeing how the rest of the world having to live as a little shocking,” Jim said.
As Jim and Peggy were adjusting to the pandemic life, tragedy would strike again in June.
“He’s just saying like ‘I don’t feel good. I don’t feel good.’ And I’m already getting ready to pick up my phone as he drops into a chair and says call 9-1-1,” Peggy said.
Luckily, Peggy and a neighbor were able to assist Jim until first responders arrived. The couple said that Jim hasn’t had another scare since the latest incident.
Two heart attacks overcome in a year that’s been a long bumpy road. But, if there’s one thing this couple learned in their pandemic year, it’s to always look at what’s gone right in the world.
“Don’t give up hope,” Jim said.
“When you’re that five percent and they say whatever your percent for survival of whatever, you can be a part of that five percent. Because here we are,” Peggy said.MORE NEWS: Search For Bear Injured In Tamarack Fire Continues After Wildlife Rescue Escape
The couple said they have their next adventure planned out as Jim continues to improve – an RV trip across the United States.