By Alyce Collins
A DEADLY dosage of medication caused this 25-year-old fitness enthusiast to have a HEART ATTACK which left her dead for six minutes and bed-ridden for almost a year.
Sweetshop worker Tabitha Johnson (27) from Ohio, USA, was standing in a queue at her local pharmacy when she suddenly collapsed in October 2016.
Tabitha deals with a condition called dysautonomia which she was prescribed two types of medication to treat. However, what Tabitha nor her doctors realised was that the combination of medication she was given can be fatal.
Dysautonomia is a condition affecting the autonomic nervous system, causing chest pain, low blood pressure, breathing difficulties and can even result in diabetes.
Tabitha was taking Zonegran, Keppra and Trileptal for her epilepsy, as well as Metoprolol and Midrodine for dysautonomia before being hospitalised, having been technically dead for six minutes.
Tabitha was in an induced coma for two days while doctors told her friends and family that she probably wouldn’t come out of the coma.
As a result of her cardiac arrest at the age of 25, Tabitha was bed-ridden for almost a year but now, two years on, she is back in the gym because the desire to get back into CrossFit was part of what helped her recover.
“I lived an active lifestyle besides dealing with dysautonomia and epilepsy,” said Tabitha.
“My health was mostly under control. I was on the right medication for my seizures and I was doing everything my doctors said to do. I was trying to find a diet that worked for my body and I had just got back into CrossFit after stopping for a few months.
“Overall I was active and working towards goals I wanted to achieve.
“Then my cardiac arrest was October 23rd, 2016 as I was standing in line at a local pharmacy and I collapsed due to the deadly combination of medication I was on.
“I was immediately rushed to the hospital where I was paced right away, and I had loads of drugs pumped in me to get my blood pressure and heart rate up.
“I couldn’t breathe on my own and my heart was failing. Straight away all the staff made assumptions about my condition and the nurses thought I attempted suicide, or it was a drug overdose, but it was nothing like that.
“I was put in the cardiac ICU to receive further care like a temporary pacemaker to make sure my heart could maintain a rhythm, so I could breathe on my own.
“I was hospitalised for five days, spending two days in a comatose state and my friends being told I probably wouldn’t make it.
“When I woke up I was scared out of my mind. I survived something only 10 per cent of people survive and I proved a lot of doctors wrong. Now I will no longer live in fear.
“It took months for the doctors to realise what had happened to me and of me yelling at them repeatedly that it wasn’t suicide.
“I became practically bedridden and if I wasn’t in my bed I was in the hospital. I had to quit my job, but nobody could understand what happened or why. I just had doctors telling me they could help me choose a wheelchair or write me a prescription, but that wasn’t what I wanted.
“For nearly a year I had to give up all fitness activity. The cardiac arrest caused a lot of issues over the last two years, including making my dysautonomia symptoms 10 times worse, but I used CrossFit to bounce back.”
Tabitha’s experience was a complete shock, and although her recovery has caused much of her life to change, she knew that she wanted to get better and to achieve new goals.
After being bedridden for almost a year, Tabitha has now increased her strength and is now able to work out up to five times a week, lifting 129kg.
“Waking up attached to machines because you can’t breathe on your own is certainly a reality check,” said Tabitha.
“I have this strength and will to fight, more than I had previously realised. I put my fitness and nutrition first not because I want to look good but because I want to feel good. I’ve learned what it’s like to feel at your worst.
“There is hope, simply put. No matter what diagnosis or label you have, there is hope.
“Doctors told my friends to prepare for the worst and that I was probably not going to wake up. Even when I did wake up they told me I would be wheelchair-bound for my life.
“Now I’m back doing CrossFit and working a job. Doctors don’t always know everything, and they aren’t always the final answer. Fight for yourself.
“I do CrossFit four to five times a week, and I can back squat 129kg, or overhead squat 52kg.
“I knew there was more I wanted from life than where I was at. I knew what I had, and I knew what I had lost, so I was willing to fight to get it all back.”
You can see more of Tabitha’s inspiring recovery by visiting her Instagram, @tabbiijae.