First of all; I am so sorry for your loss!
Unfortunately yes, this does happen. Your story is actually a very common one.
All too often individuals are hesitant about going to the hospital and by the time they finally decide to seek treatment it is already too late!
Nothing you can do will ever bring your father back, but you can use your experience to help other people to not have to experience the same thing. Share your story, spread awareness. Help people to understand that it’s ok to seek treatment and assure them that staff have no problem coming in to work to see them 24/7.
We don’t care if it turns out to be “nothing” we would rather check to be sure rather than have someone’s mother or father pass away due to a preventable illness. Please don’t hesitate, this is what we are paid for and we are happy to do it as many times as necessary.
If you need additional assistance there are grief counselors available as well. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to them for advice. They too are available to you and are happy to assist you 24/7 if that’s what it takes. They genuinely love what they do and have chosen to do this job because they are concerned for the well-being of people in this situation.
What you’re experiencing is completely normal and sometimes it helps to have someone who’s sole focus is to just sit down and listen to what you have to say.
And no, it’s not your fault for listening to him. You can’t force someone to go to the hospital all of the sudden like that.
What can you do? Pick him up and carry him to the emergency room?
What needs to happen is people need to be educated and aware of the symptoms. And they need to take them seriously. That’s a conversation that needs to happen years before the actual heart attack occurs.
As for the what happened part:
Cardiac Rhythms. Most instances of sudden cardiac death from a heart attack occur immediately after the heart attack begins or following some very subtle warning signs. It’s rarely dramatic in the time leading up to it.
Once the blockage is complete the heart begins a rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation which causes all blood flow to stop, depriving all of the organs of oxygen to include the brain. This in turn can causes the brain to lose control over those basic functions like breathing giving the appearance of choking or gasping or creating episodes that look like seizures.
This can be treated with CPR and such but generally without opening up the artery and treating the root cause of the problem CPR will not be successful.
As I said the broader problem is just awareness. Patients typically try to determine whether or not they need to visit the hospital based on how bad their symptoms are. Many of these heart attacks initially show up as symptoms that are fairly mild and very quickly escalate into symptoms that are very extreme. To include sudden cardiac death. A big component of why this is the singular leading cause of death in the United States. It’s a silent killer that can creep up on someone with little to no warning
What you are describing, replaying for years and vivid memories of the event sounds PRECISELY like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I am all too familiar with those open eyes. I see a therapist for it. I would suggest you do the same. It helps.
All of those treatments sound normal. As does the eyes being open during resuscitation.
By “adrenaline shot to the chest” I am assuming he had an IO line in his sternum. This is a little odd. Adrenaline shots are typically given via IV or via an IO line in the leg; but in any case adrenaline (epinephrine) is a standard part of the protocol.
You can investigate “ACLS cardiac arrest algorithm” for the precise steps that should be taken in any such case and evaluate whether or not they were appropriate.
Again, my more immediate concern for you is post Traumatic stress. PTSD is often associated with war but this is not the case.
PTSD arises from any significant life event like this and is a diagnosis that sounds extremely likely here. It is nothing to be ashamed of and is a diagnosis you’d share with millions of others who have lived through extraordinary circumstances.
This may not be easy to hear but it sounds like, similar to your father, it’s time for you also to recognize that something that may seem minor is potentially serious and at least go in to get checked up for it. I am sure if he was here with us today he would support you in seeking a professional opinion.