Waseca Football Coach Shares His Journey After Cardiac Event This Past Fall
Brad Wendland, coach of the Waseca Bluejays for the past 16 years, went down to a knee with 31-seconds left in the opening game on Friday, September 3rd, and the crowd's attention at the Waseca home game turned from the scoreboard to the head coach who suddenly collapsed unresponsive onto the field. Thanks to the quick thinking of the trainers, and a fan in the stands Coach Wendland lived and was back coaching the Bluejays just three weeks later. But his story didn't stop when the football season did. Coach Wendland took to his Facebook page to give an update on how he is doing, and share another instance of sudden cardiac arrest that he suffered in the classroom.
Friends, The last six months have been filled with very difficult and unsettling times for me and my family. I thought I would use Facebook to try to update people. On 9/3/21 towards the end of the season's opening game, I experienced a Sudden Cardiac Arrest on the sideline without warning. To survive an SCA outside the hospital is extremely rare. My life was saved by the trainers from both teams and a parent who came out of the crowd to give me compressions. I was taken by ambulance to Mankato where I was examined over the course of several days. They determined that the incident was caused by a prolapse (leak) in my heart's Mitral Valve and a rare condition referred to as Mitral Annulus Disjunction. M.A.D. is a structural problem with the heart that can result in a life-threatening acceleration of the pulse. An ICD or defibrillator was installed into my chest that would act as an AED and shock my heart back into rhythm if needed. After a couple of visits to the Mayo clinic, they determined I was in need of a Mitral Valve Repair surgery. The date was set for 3/14/22. At this point, things sort of settled down in anticipation of the surgery. Then Jan 31st happened. As I was beginning to teach my 4th-hour class my heart rate all of sudden accelerated from 60 beats up to 300. I lost consciousness and my heart had once again stopped. My defibrillator kicked in and shocked it back into rhythm. I felt so bad that the students had to see that. Once again I was brought to Mankato and examined over the course of a couple of days. They increased my medication to better manage my heart rate and sped up my ICD. This was a low point for me because I felt as though I had no control over this. Finally, March 14th arrived and Kim drove me to Rochester for the surgery. It went extremely well. The surgical team was able to repair my mitral valve and end the prolapse. They are amazing at what they do. They also believe that they have taken care of the M.A.D. but that part still needs continued monitoring. I can't express how great it feels to go to bed at night knowing that I have a healthy heart! It is astonishing how LUCKY I am and the level to which I am GRATEFUL. I plan on using my BONUS TIME to it's fullest in every way. I would like to thank Waseca Public Schools for being a great place to work! I'd like to thank the Waseca Community for being an amazing place to teach/coach and raise a family. Kim did an incredible job of both keeping me upbeat as well as holding me back! She is my best friend and I'm so glad I'm here for her. My three sons continue to inspire me. Watching you boys find your passions and trying to become great at them has made me a very proud dad. I hope this provides a clear picture of my story and I look forward to staying in touch and seeing all of you.
Wendland posted about another event that happened in the classroom that certainly had him questioning how he was doing while waiting for a heart valve surgery in March.
"Then Jan 31st happened. As I was beginning to teach my 4th-hour class my heart rate all of sudden accelerated from 60 beats up to 300. I lost consciousness and my heart had once again stopped. My defibrillator kicked in and shocked it back into rhythm. I felt so bad that the students had to see that. Once again I was brought to Mankato and examined over the course of a couple of days. They increased my medication to better manage my heart rate and sped up my ICD. This was a low point for me because I felt as though I had no control over this."
The good news out of all of this is that Coach Wendland had his valve replacement and is feeling much better, and plans to use the time he has left, as he refers to it as BONUS TIME to the fullest in every way.
Honestly many in the community are just glad to know that Brad is back, and feeling better. He has shaped plenty of young men's lives by being a coach and molded the minds of Waseca youth in the classroom, and that is in itself priceless.