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Ruthie Nodsle

Carrying forward after cardiac arrest

Ruthie Nodsle

Death doesn’t frighten Ruthie Nodsle. She died once before.

On June 16, 2010, Ruthie was making lunch at her home day care near Carlos when a carrot became lodged in her throat. She ate bread and drank water, but the pain in her chest didn’t go away. She recalls her daughter asking if she needed help and walking towards the door, but she never made it.

A first responder arrived within minutes and began CPR. Ruthie was taken by helicopter to St. Cloud Hospital, where she was treated with therapeutic hypothermia. Her body was cooled to 92.3 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours to improve her chance of survival and to preserve brain function.

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Ruthie, now 59, was fortunate to live in Central Minnesota, where Take Heart St. Cloud has been in place for 10 years at St. Cloud Hospital. Sudden cardiac arrest is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Due to this, the Take Heart program works to improve survival rates through a systems-based, community-wide approach for faster and better treatment. It involves bystander CPR, defibrillation and induced hypothermia often followed by an implanted defibrillator to protect against future cardiac arrest. St. Cloud Hospital was one of the first hospitals to use therapeutic hypothermia, helping to spark widespread use of this approach in hospitals across the state.

Three days after her cardiac arrest, Ruthie awoke. She couldn’t remember anything after collapsing on the floor, but a vivid dream lingered. In it, Jesus was near and saying she “still had things to do and should go back.” Later Ruthie realized why Jesus seemed so close. Just like in the Footprints Prayer, Jesus had been carrying her during this time of trial.

In the years since, Ruthie has pondered what it was that Jesus still wanted her to do. “After my cardiac arrest, I was altered emotionally and physically,” she said. “Through rehab I got healthier, but it took me awhile to figure out the right balance.”

Ruthie is now back to doing day care and has begun painting, a hobby she gave up after having children. She joined an art club and entered a painting into the Douglas County Fair. The scene, depicting lily pads on Lake Itasca, received grand champion recognition. “This scene means a lot to me because it’s where I vacation with my family,” said Ruthie. She says the cardiac arrest brought her family closer together, and she is determined to enjoy life, looking at every day as a blessing.

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