Terri Hemsworth of Blaine was not feeling well and was having trouble breathing April 26. She brushed it off, however, and told her family that she did not need to see a doctor. She promised to let them know if anything happened again.
Around 6 a.m. the next day (April 27), she started having an embolism. She told her husband that she could not breathe and she does not remember anything after that.
What her husband Eugene Hemsworth remembers is that he told her to get dressed and prepare to go to the hospital. At this point, his wife of 46 years fell off their king-size bed and onto the bedroom floor.
Their son Tony and his wife Amy were living downstairs in the Hemsworth’s Blaine home at the time while they were between houses. After hearing the thud and quickly finding out that Tony’s mother had fallen, they went upstairs to help out in any way they could.
The Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View (SBM) Fire Department has CPR and first aid classes throughout the year. The most recent CPR class was Sept. 20. There are upcoming first aid classes Sept. 27 and Nov. 15. Call Blaine City Hall at 763-784-6700 to sign up. All classes are at SBM Fire Station No. 3 at 11920 Ulysses St. N.E. in Blaine from 6-10 p.m.
You can also visit http://wellness.allinahealth.org/events to see a schedule of CPR classes and other events happening at Allina Health Hospitals.
Eugene ran out of the bedroom to find the phone, but could not locate it. Very quickly, Terri’s face began to turn a shade of black as she lost air. Eugene and Tony knew they only had seconds to react, so they took turns blowing air into Terri’s mouth and doing chest compressions. They guess they performed CPR for about two minutes.
In the meantime, Amy found the phone and dialed 911.
Thankfully for Terri, these important men in her life knew how to properly perform CPR. They learned these life-saving skills while going through the United States military’s basic training program.
Eugene was drafted to go to Vietnam on Nov. 14, 1965, just a couple of weeks after he married Terri on Oct. 30 that year. He was in Vietnam for one year and 30 days.
Tony spent six years in the Minnesota National Guard, starting in July 1993.
Although it was a horrible experience for Tony and he does not look at what he did as heroic, one thing that made him feel good was when a doctor told Terri that she shouldn’t be sitting in front of him because of the embolism.
When she told him that her husband and son did CPR on her and he found out they learned how to do this in the military, the doctor said there’s something to be said for the military because very few people come back after having an embolism as there is such a small window of time to save somebody.
“Honestly, it was probably the worst day of my life and I hope it never happens again,” Tony said of April 27. “It’s not anything that I’m excited about because it was horrible. You never realize how serious that situation is until you’re faced with it.”
Many people want to know what Terri saw when she was on the brink of dying. She did not see any bright light, Jesus or her life flashing before her eyes. She could hear her son yelling at her, but did not know what he was saying.
Tony said he was screaming, “Don’t do this to me mom!”
She also remembers a sensation like she was going on a ride. This happened when Eugene and Tony almost dropped her down the stairs when they were moving her.
Terri did regain consciousness at her Blaine home, but Tony said she was delirious and did not know what had happened. At one point when Tony told her they were taking her to the hospital, Terri asked for her lipstick because she wanted to look her best when she left the house.
Terri has had trouble walking since the embolism. She spends much of her day sitting in a recliner chair in the living room and she sleeps there as well because she has difficulty breathing if she lies on her back.
The family made numerous modifications to the house to help Terri get around. They put in a ramp at the front steps. Terri can press a button from her chair to open the door if she knows a guest is coming and nobody else is around to answer the door. There is a chair lift at the stairs.
Amy has become Terri’s personal care assistant. Terri does physical therapy throughout the week and she regularly visits Mercy Hospital for check-ups.
Terri said with all the time she spends sitting, she has had a lot of time to think about that day. She has trouble sleeping at night, but dozes off during the day if it becomes quiet. Eugene attributes this drowsiness to Terri’s medication.
Terri said she is happy and not depressed, although she said it is hard on her that she cannot walk on her own because she used to be so active. On a scale of 1 to 10, she would rate the pain she is in throughout the day as 110.
The best part of her day is when her daughter-in-law Amy brings the grandchildren. Terri has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“Truthfully I’ve got such a wonderful family and grandchildren to look forward to that I can smile every day, even with the pain,” Terri said.
Eugene and Tony have now seen first-hand the importance of knowing CPR and believe others should be trained, even if they are not in the military.
Eugene thinks somebody in every family should know how to do first aid and CPR.
“If neither one of us knew it, we would have been standing there looking at each other,” Tony said.
Eric Hagen is at