Steven, Survivor

Heart Failure Survivor

Steven KeulSteven Heart Survivor Photos Aurora

Steven Keul first realized he had a heart problem when he awoke in a dark hospital room hooked up to a ventilator, surrounded by medical professionals and family. He had been playing tennis when he suddenly went into cardiac arrest. He was only 52.  
 
Up until this point, he had lived a perfectly healthy life. 

"A perfect life," in his words.

Rarely sick, no family history of heart disease and long-living relatives were all part of Steven's good fortune.

He had also just had a physical where his family physician had told him he was on track to be healthy at 100 years of age. Clearly, his cardiac arrest could not have been more surprising to him and to his family.  
 
At The Medical Center of Aurora, Steve was diagnosed with idiopathic ventricular fibrillation, a disorder where the heart suddenly and without warning stops beating its normal beat. This can happen to healthy hearts as Steve did not have any pre-diagnosed form of heart disease or had experienced any irregularities in his heart's rhythm.  

To prevent this from happening again, Steve received an implantable defibrillator or ICD.  However, his journey was not complete. Due to blood clotting issues associated with his ICD, he had to have numerous additional surgeries. As he puts it, because of the skills and talents of his medical team, he recovered and resumed his perfectly normal, fulfilling and healthy life. In the past 12 years, he has had three ICDs.
 
Like the rest of us have or will eventually do, Steve has had to adapt to a new sense of his own mortality. But because of the today's technology and exceptional medical professionals, Steve enjoys life to the fullest, meeting new grandchildren, traveling the world and developing a deeper meaning and appreciation for every day of life and the world around him.  
 
His advice to others: Avoid self pity as it is a waste of energy. Focus on the future, have faith in your doctors and whatever else inspires and comforts you. Live for the future but enjoy the present, and learn to laugh a lot.

Patient written permission obtained prior to the posting of this story.