A near-fatal wakeup call disrupts an annual tradition: Jonah’s survivor story

An annual trip with friends marked by laughter, hunting, and decadent eating took a turn when Jonah Czerwinski, Head of Public Sector at Thoughtworks, faced an unexpected and life-threatening ordeal. Jonah highlights the importance of understanding detection and prevention and rethinking the outdated perceptions of heart disease risk factors.

Jonah Czerwinski and his wife and two kids

Jonah was in Perry County, Alabama on an annual trip with his close friends. A few days before the trip, Jonah visited his hometown doctor for a worsening pain in his right shoulder. He frequently played squash, a racquet sport, and was told that it may be a rotator cuff injury and after he returned from the trip, he would start physical therapy. However, after about a day in, the pain began to worsen.

“I had every reason to believe that it wasn’t serious, and certainly not my heart,” Jonah recalls. He contacted his doctor for anti-inflammatories to manage the pain until he returned from travel.

On the final night of the trip, the pain became unbearable. At 2 A.M., Jonah recalls a burning sensation throughout his upper body and increasing shortness of breath. Believing that it was a reaction to his medication, panic set in. In desperation, he and his friend, Max, set off on a 30-mile drive to the nearest hospital. The journey was tense as the truck ran low on gas, and there were no 24-hour gas stations around. “I thought, we just have to make it close enough to a landmark so I could call an ambulance and let them know where I am,” he explained. It is important to note that in the case of an emergency, the American Heart Association recommends calling 911 instead of transporting yourself to the hospital.

Just barely making it to the hospital, a staffer quickly attended to Jonah. The pain was so severe and his blood pressure so elevated that Jonah could not sit still. The staff administered a clot-busting medication before transferring him to a larger facility equipped to handle complex cardiac emergencies in Birmingham, Alabama.

The following day, having undergone surgery to insert a stent, Jonah learned he had suffered from a near-fatal heart attack known as a STEMI (ST – Elevated Myocardial Infarction), caused by a complete blockage in a coronary artery. Despite having minor risk factors like elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, Jonah had no prior history of heart disease.

Post-surgery, Jonah faced additional complications. Within minutes of waking from his first surgery, blood was collecting in his lungs and doctors rushed him back into surgery to be stented a second time. He emerged with a balloon pump in his chest to support his heart’s rhythm while he recovered in the hospital. Once the pump was removed, Jonah had to be fitted with a wearable external defibrillator – a medical vest he would wear 24/7 until cleared by a cardiologist to remove it. At last, and after four days in the hospital, he was discharged and permitted to fly back home to Washington, DC.

For the next six months, Jonah wore the external defibrillator around the clock until further tests ultimately determined he would need an implanted cardioverter defibrillator and pacemaker.

Since then, Jonah has responded well in recovery and is halfway through his 30-session cardiac rehab program at Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda, MD. He recently celebrated his 49th birthday with a long-awaited return to the squash courts. Jonah now takes six different medications daily to aid his heart’s recovery and to help protect against another attack.

Jonah Czerwinski, Head of Public Sector at Thoughtworks

By sharing his story, Jonah hopes to challenge the outdated perceptions of heart disease risk factors. In looking back, Jonah reflects on being more aware of prior risk factors like cholesterol and high blood pressure. “Being aggressive on prevention and detection is a lot better than being aggressive on treatment,” Jonah advises. He urges others to take their health seriously and not wait for a crisis to make significant changes. “I’m just glad I’m getting back in action, especially for my wife and kids, I need to be here for them.”

To get involved with the American Heart Association, Greater Washington Region, visit www.heart.org/dc.

6 thoughts on “A near-fatal wakeup call disrupts an annual tradition: Jonah’s survivor story”

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  2. هذه النقاط تُضاف الى حساب العميل
    كي يستخدمها فى خصم جزء من سعر الطلبيات القادمة .
    هذه الخدمة متاحة لمتسوقي السعودية فقط .
    صيدلية .كوم تعتبر من أشهر المنصات الإلكترونية في
    المملكة العربية السعودية التي تقدم تجربة تسوق مميزة وجديدة على جميع
    احتياجاتك من المنتجات الطبية والعلاجية وكذلك المنتجات التجميلية ومنتجات
    العناية ، حيث توفر صيدلية .كوم العديد من الأدوية والمكملات الغذائية والفيتامينات وكذلك منتجات العناية ومستلزمات الأطفال بالإضافة إلى الأغذية الصحية ، وقد
    استطاع موقع صيدلية . خلال هذا المقال نرشح لكم منصة
    تسوق من خلالها تستطيعون شراء كافة المنتجات العلاجية والمكملات الغذائية
    والفيتامينات، بجانب المستحضرات التجميلية والمكياج بأقل الأسعار والعروض المغرية
    للغاية. يوفر صيدلية كوم الكثير
    من العروض والتخفيضات المتكررة على كافة منتجاته التى يعرضها على الموقع .
    كود خصم صيدلية كوم ، ان كنت ترغب
    الآن في القيام بالتسوق من تطبيق صيدلية كوم مع
    الحصول على الخصومات و التخفيضات فهذا ما ستجده في صفحتنا
    الحالية حيث سنوفر لك كود خصم صيدلية كوم و
    كوبون خصم صيدلية كوم الذي يعمل
    على تخفيض العديد من المنتجات بنسب متفاوتة في الخصم و التخفيض بنسبة تبدأ من 10% لتصل الى 50% من قيمة المنتجات ، و كذلك المتجر يوفر العديد
    من المنتجات التي عليها تخفيضات و
    خصومات وبشكل فوري .

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