Meet Annette and Steve Cline In Six Minutes She Gave Them A Second Chance
If you’ve been hemming and hawing about getting some exercise, Annette Cline has a message for you: Get strong and physically fit, no matter what your age. We never know, she says, if we will be called on to protect ourselves or others, or maybe even save a loved one's life.
Annette knows what she’s talking about. In a letter she wrote to the Y, Annette recounts how she and her husband of 26 years, Steve, were spending a quiet, cozy evening at home, when she turned to see Steve's lifeless face and knew his heart had stopped. Annette and Steve shared their My Y story with us, hoping to inspire others to get serious about their health.
More from Annette
"The doctors told me later that, indeed, at that moment he had had a cardiac arrest and had died. My husband is now alive and miraculously restored physically and mentally. He is back home and healthy physically and mentally. We are more in love than ever and are excited to take full advantage of this second chance that we have been given."
I have been told many times by the doctors and medical staff that I saved Steve’s life and his brain function in those minutes that I administered CPR. I have been called a hero. I don't know if I am a hero. What I do know is that I was able to save my husband’s life because I was strong physically from coming regularly to strength and barbell classes at the YMCA. — Annette Cline
It was a beautiful Christmas evening — Saturday night. I just put up the Christmas trees. I was so happy. We were sitting next together, Steve and I, on the sofa watching a video, and something was strange about Steve. And I said, “Honey, are you okay?”
And he said, “not really.”
We continued watching the video and then, all of a sudden, he gasped and his head went back, and he stopped breathing. I shook him and I said, “Honey, honey!”
He didn't answer. He was not breathing.
I grabbed the phone. That 911 operator — I'll always be so grateful, because he talked to me kind of like he was my sergeant. He said, “Do not worry about hurting him. You need to get him on the floor.”
So, I said a prayer. I put my arms underneath his arms, and I threw him on the floor. And they started guiding me through the chest compressions. I used all my strength and all my focus. And they counted with me — count of four — and I did that, we found out later, for about 6 minutes.
You know all of the training she does, including all the YMCA stuff and everything like that, got her to be a person who would be calm and cool under those circumstances. I mean how many people, having just seen their spouse die in front of them, would have the presence of mind to calmly call 911 and calmly be able to go through and do everything that they suggested? That's a pretty special person.
He was in a medically-induced coma. On the third day he came out, but what we did was, a group of our friends, we all got together with him on Zoom and we talked to him and we asked him to come back to us, because we needed him. And that next morning he came out of his coma.
It was a big deal. I, you know, I weigh 210 pounds; she weighs 105 pounds, so she got me off of that, and then was able to do 6 minutes worth of CPR! From what I've heard from people that have given CPR, I mean, that's remarkable! You know, most people, most of the time, they're doing like 2 minutes and then they trade off to somebody else and do 2 minutes. And she did it continuously for 6 minutes and that is the critical element in not only me being alive, but me having brain activity.
What I had been doing at the Y for all these years also helped me with the mental focus. You know, the weight lifting — I've read a lot of articles about how important weight lifting is to develop the parts of the brain that have to do with learning, memory, focus. And I know that that night, every time that I concentrated on my form, lifting the weights and following the teacher and being present in the moment, following the instructions. Those all played an important part in me being prepared for what happened.
The teachers are so well trained and so professional. They keep us safe. They encourage us. They keep the energy up, and they're always there. We can depend on having a teacher when we go into the class. They’re partly responsible for Steve being alive right now — those wonderful teachers. And I've told them, too.
So that's what happened and, as you can see, he's alive and well. I’m so grateful, so grateful that life brought me to this moment. It’s like my whole life prepared me for this moment. That I was able to be Steve's hero and save him.