“The doctor did go tell my wife that they lost me on the table…“ 

People often ask the question, why does one person survive such a traumatic experience while someone else may not? What makes one situation and fate different from another? Last year, Royce Shingleton found himself asking these very questions. 

“I thought everything was fine in life,” Shingleton says. “I was working and enjoying life. My son was in town and we were at the gym and planning to go to the beach that afternoon and cook out. Next thing you know, I’m in the hospital and what’s wild about it, is that I was in the hospital less than 24 hours.” 

Shingleton knew something was wrong when he was leaving the gym. He had a knot in his chest, he couldn’t breathe and was sweating profusely. 

Even in the moment, Shingleton didn’t realize the severity of the situation. All he could think of was that he was healthy and physically strong. This shouldn’t be happening. When he got to the hospital, he noticed people lined up in the hall, smiling but not saying anything. 

“That’s never a good sign to see that but they were able to get me to the cath lab, put a stent in my heart, and get the blood flowing,” Shingleton says. “The doctor did go tell my wife that they lost me on the table, shocked me back to life. The doctor said today wasn’t his doing, it was God that saved me. God obviously had some plan for me, and when you hear that from somebody that has just saved your life, it’s sobering to say the least.” 

“I don’t know if I’ll ever find the reason I made it,” Shingleton says. “It’s not like God hands you a manual with instructions on how to live the rest of your life — ‘this is why you survived and you’re still here.’ It sure would be easier that way, but I guess I won’t find out until I’m not here.” 

It’s important not to take things for granted, to stress and worry less, and simply enjoy life. In the blink of an eye — literally, a blink — everything can disappear. 

Shingleton says it’s a sobering reality to be here one moment and gone the next. It just wasn’t his time to go. He remembers everything going dark but then opening his eyes. 

“When I woke up and looked over at the nurses smiling, I was told ‘congratulations, you survived the widow maker,’” Shingleton says. “You know a lot of sad things probably have happened in that room and you could feel the joy they had at that very moment.” 

Quality of life is everything and not just the physical aspect, but the emotional as well. Sometimes Shingleton finds himself taking life for granted, but now he’s much more cognizant of slowing down and being thankful. 

“My relationship with my wife and my children is ten times better than it was before,” Shingleton says. “I realize things now, like maybe I need to go hug my wife instead of making five more phone calls, things like that. All I know is that my day started normal, my day ended normal, if you will, but what happened in between was life changing.” ◆