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Daughter’s speedy response saves mother’s life with CPR

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Daughter’s speedy response saves mother’s life with CPR

She was scared. She feared she might hurt her mother, but she also knew she had to act or her mother might die.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

On a recent weekday, Carol Hughey was wheeled down a hospital hallway lined with her caregivers applauding her release. A popular Glen Campbell song played in the background: “Take me home, country roads.” It’s one of Hughey’s favorite songs.

Her discharge was quite different from her admission. She was transported by an emergency vehicle on Christmas Eve. She spent 47 days in the hospital - including IU Health Bloomington Hospital, and a rehabilitation hospital. Eleven of those days she was on a ventilator.

The 76-year-old mother to John and Julie Hughey, and grandmother to a high school junior, has no recollection of her hospital admission. She has no memory of what happened on the morning of Christmas Eve. But her daughter remembers every detail. Carol Hughey retired after 40 years of teaching Kindergarten through Ninth Grade in a private school. Her husband died of a heart attack in 1993 and Carol lives with her daughter and granddaughter in Bloomington.

Carol got up early on December 24, excited to spent the day with her family. She was getting dressed in her upstairs bedroom when she began to feel sick. She yelled downstairs to her daughter and within minutes collapsed on her bed.

“I was afraid it might be heart related but she wasn’t presenting any of the typical symptoms. I kept asking if she had pain in her shoulder. I thought at first it might be her blood sugar,” said Julie Hughey. But when her mother collapsed, Julie knew time was not on her side. She moved her mother to the floor, ran downstairs to unlock the front door, called 911, and positioned her mother so she could begin CPR.

An administrator at a dental office, Julie had learned CPR at work. She’d taken a refresher course every two years for the last 24 years, but she never had to use it.

As she began, she said the course came back to her. She knew the counting, compressions, and where to place her hands.

“Later, I looked at my phone and within six minutes of the 911 call the emergency responders were here. We live right around the corner from the fire station,” said Julie. Emergency workers continued CPR in the ambulance and also used a defibrillator to shock Carol’s heart.

During February’s Heart Health Month, the Hugheys shared their story.

Carol had no history of heart disease although she said there was a history on her mother’s side of the family. She took medication for high blood pressure and was being treated for a blood disorder. Other than the birth of her children, she was only hospitalized one other time in her life.

“She had just been to her doctor the week before and her cholesterol was great and they said she was the best she looked in years,” said Julie. “Even though it was Christmas Eve, it was a good thing because if it was a regular work day, I wouldn’t have been home,” she said.

At IU Health Bloomington Carol was in the care of a team of doctors, nurses, and caregivers. She underwent surgery to place two stints where her main arteries were clogged.

“It was touch and go for awhile especially during the first week,” said Julie. She remembers a night when her mother was on the highest level of oxygen and her family members were told that if things didn’t level off there was nothing more they could do. Her brother was getting ready to leave the hospital and they all stayed - holding her hands through the night.

holding hands

On January 23 Carol was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. When she was discharged from the hospital she was unable to use her arms and wasn’t able to put a lot of weight on her legs.

“When I went to see my cardiologist after weeks of rehab, he was amazed at how well I was doing,” said Carol. “I have progressed faster than they all expected.” She continues to work on her goals and hopes to eventually resume her active life - keeping up the house, cooking, crafting, and creating puzzles. She also hopes to drive again.

As she talked recently she nibbled on Christmas candy - something she missed during the holidays. The family planned a February birthday celebration for her son and delayed Christmas party while she was in rehab. They are also planning a family trip to Tennessee when she feels up to it.

For now, Carol said she’s already had the best gift.

“I’m so glad Julie knew how to do CPR. It’s a miracle. I’m alive and I’m enjoying my family.”

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