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It's amazing what can save a life

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Do you still have cravings for certain foods that you developed as a youngster?

If you grew up in the Midwest one of them had to be sweet corn. There was one summer where I had access to it right off the stalk. I’ll never forget that sweet taste.

When I came to Alaska I found a short season sweet corn seed and grew some. Our yard had great sun coverage, and the corn grew pretty well. Then we moved, and our new yard didn’t have quite the access to the sun, so I gave up.

Here’s where Joe the Barber comes in. He has various plants inside his shop and during the summer has a fairly large garden outside the front door. He even grew corn. Last year after all the effort he put in, I didn’t have the guts to ask him for one ear.

This summer I was determined to plant some and come August we were going to have a corn festival. The corn production did not turn out to be quite what I hoped but still enough to invite a few people over.

As one couple was out of town on Aug. 15, we settled on Aug. 22 Usually on Sunday from late morning to the middle of the afternoon my wife is home alone as several of us go for a hike. That had to be cancelled. The party was to start at 2 p.m. with dinner at 3 p.m.

About 12:30 p.m. my wife was up in the kitchen cutting up fresh vegetables, and I was down fussing with my computer. I heard a thump, and thinking my wife dropped something, I waited a few seconds to hear movement. When that didn’t happen I went up to check only to find my wife on the floor. It took a couple of minutes before I realized she hadn’t just lost her balance

I called 911. The operator had me start CPR. In a couple more minutes, the 911 crew arrived. They worked on her for about 30 minutes to get her heart beating, then raced off to the hospital. She had what is called a heart block. The heart is fine but the impulses that make it work failed.

The prognosis wasn’t good. She spent six days in ICU, five of them with a ventilator tube down her throat, then another three days in a regular hospital room. Today she is pretty much back to normal. It is almost like it didn’t happen; almost surreal.

No one ever knows when circumstances just happen to come together to save a life. Without my craving for corn on the cob and the couple not in town on Aug. 15, I would be a single person right now. Of course the circumstances made it possible but it was the quick arrival of the 911 crew (we live six blocks from the fire department) and the effort of the hospital nurses and doctors that made recovery happen.

We are very fortunate to have the level of medical care that Fairbanks has.

Jim Richardson lives in Fairbanks

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