Monday, December 14, 2009

Real drama in Carver Hawkeye Arena

Two events of the past three weeks have brought to mind the single most dramatic thing I’ve ever seen at Carver Hawkeye Arena – the resuscitation of Joel Schatzman.

On February 6, 2000 the Iowa Hawkeyes were leading Northwestern 41-3. The Wildcats’ only victory was an upset by fourth-ranked Scott Schatzman over Iowa’s returning NCAA champion and top-ranked Doug Schwab. I don’t really remember much about the match except that perhaps Schatzman won by controlling Schwab from the top.

Several minutes later some of us noticed stirring behind the Northwestern bench. It started to get quiet in the arena and we could hear a women screaming for help. Then Scott Schatzman started running, hurdled a chair and ran up a few rows into the stands. His father had collapsed from an apparent heart attack. Public address announcer, Phil Haddy, put out a call for help from any medical personnel that might be in attendance. Registered EMT and “avid Hawkeye wrestling fan”, Kevin Greenley, was among the first to arrive. In an interview for the Summer 2000 issue of EMS Update, Greenley said, “The others in the stands (who came to the patient’s assistance) and I, quickly discovered he had no pulse and determined that he needed a defibrillator. We performed CPR to provide circulation until the defibrillator arrived.” Fortunately for Mr. Schatzman an automated external defibrillator had been placed in Carver Hawkeye less than a year before.

Most of us stood as the drama unfolded. It was amazingly quiet. We spoke to each other in hushed tones. An ambulance arrived and the paramedics joined the treatment team. Wrestling no longer mattered. After the ambulance pulled away, Phil Haddy got back on the mic and announced that the meet was over. Joel Schatzman recovered at the University Hospitals and Clinics and a month later attended the Big Ten Championships.

Fast forward to November 20,2009. The Hawkeye meet with North Carolina-Pembroke was just about to start when I got a phone call from my wife. My 85-year-old father-in-law had fallen and at that moment was in a helicopter flying to the University of Iowa Hospital. She was en route and asked me to meet her. University Hospital is roughly a ten minute walk from Carver Hawkeye for a middle-aged, overweight man so I arrived just minutes after the helicopter landed.

As you get older you start to spend way more time in hospital waiting rooms than you would like. My wife, brother-in-law, mother-in-law and I huddled outside of the emergency room awaiting a diagnosis. When it came it confirmed what had been determined by the staff at St Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids – Lee had fractured three vertebrae in his neck and had been transferred up to the intensive care unit. While waiting for permission to go see him Nora, my mother-in-law, said, “I’m sorry to take you away from your wrestling” – and actually meant it. She just hates to bother anyone. I turned to my wife, Cindy, and asked, “Remember the night Scott Schatzman’s dad had his heart attack?”

When we were allowed to go back to see him we met an amazing team. Lee was under the care of an emergency room resident, a trauma specialist, two spine specialists (one of whom bore a strong resemblance to Doogie Howser), an ICU resident and assorted nurses and technicians. That first night Lee was unable to move his right arm or leg and had very little movement on his left side. He was in University Hospital intensive care for ten days before being transferred to the physical rehabilitation unit at St Luke’s in Cedar Rapids. He is making astounding progress and the prognosis is good.

When long-time Northwestern coach, Tim Cysewski announced last week that he was stepping down, I once again thought of Joel Schatzman.

Blogging is self-indulgent by its very nature and today I’m indulging myself. Thank you University Hospitals and Clinics. You were wonderful. If any of you readers are acquainted with any of the staff there – tell them that there’s a doofus wrestling fan in Cedar Rapids who thinks the world of them. I’m pretty sure that popular Hawkeye forum poster, USAFHawk, is on staff there. If you know him – ask him to spread the word among his colleagues.


Gantry said...

I remember that incident with Mr. Schatzman, really puts things into perspective. Scott was a heck of a wrestler.

Best wishes to your family Jim, another quality blog per usual.

JMF said...

Prayers to you and yours. said...

Glad to hear that he's out of ICU and doing better. Hope he continues his recovery! Let us know if there is anything that we can do. You and your family will be in our prayers and thoughts this holiday season

L$ said...

thoughts with you and yours - thanks for a great read.

Jim Brown said...

Thanks for all of the well wishes.