A new year means a new life for a local woman who narrowly escaped death one month ago.
Elizabeth Tormey returned to work on New Year's Eve.
“It was really good to get back to normal,” she told Nashville's News 2.
The last month has been anything but normal for the 52-year-old wife and mother. On November 26, she collapsed while riding Metropolitan Transit Authority bus No. 19, less than a block from Goodwill Career Solutions Center on Herman Street.
A week after her collapse, Dr. Stacy Davis, Tormey's cardiologist and Comprehensive Director of the Heart Failure Program at Baptist Hospital, told Nashville's News 2 Tormey suffered cardiac arrest due to a weakened heart.
“She has something called cardiomyopathy,” Dr. Davis explained. “The electrical system, in the very simplest terms, of her heart shorted out.”
Tormey doesn't remember what happened, but there were reports that a fellow bus rider gave her life-saving CPR in the minutes after her heart stopped.
“Somebody must've done something, because I'm still here,” she said, her voice still hoarse from the breathing tube she received while in the hospital.
Her recovery includes a pacemaker defibrillator to maintain her heart rhythm, a new diet and a new outlook.
“My normal has changed, and I'm learning to change with it,” she said.
Thanks to Goodwill Industries, she also has a new job.
“The day that she had her heart attack was the day she was actually supposed to put in her application for permanent employment,” said Debbie Grant, Career Solutions Development Director for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee.
Once homeless, Tormey trained and worked through Goodwill Industries' job programs in the months prior to her medical emergency.
“They've kind of polished me up and made me look where I kind of fit in,” said Tormey.
She more than fit in, she excelled. For that reason, her job was held during her recovery.
“I was so glad when she got well enough to come back,” said Grant, “because there was a moment there when we weren't sure she was going to make it.”
Tormey hopes her current job will lead to full-time employment in the New Year but for now, she's focused on the present.
“I think I'm one of the most blessed people in Nashville right now,” Tormey said. “I'm still here with my family, people I care about, and I have a job, and we're all together, and I don't know how life could get much better than that.”
- Dec. 7, 2012: Woman who suffered heart attack on bus released from hospital
- Dec. 4, 2012: Stranger performs CPR, saves woman on city bus