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From a coma to Sound to Narrows: Fred's story

Posted on Jun. 12, 2018 ( comments)
Fred and Gina S2N 2018
Fred Angus and Gina McCarthy at the start of the 2018 Sound to Narrows. 

Fred Angus stood at the Sound to Narrows 2018 start line with a smile on his face and a look of triumph in his eye.

He was registered for the 2017 race, but didn't make it to the start line that year.

“I just missed it by a few days,” Angus says.

He missed it by four days, to be exact.

Angus missed the 2017 Sound to Narrows because he had a severe case of pneumonia. He arrived at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital by ambulance and needed to be placed in a medically induced coma.

Things got worse before they got better.

While in the coma, Angus experienced Guillain–Barré syndrome and suffered a stroke. When he woke up, he was a shell of his former self — 35 pounds lighter and unable to use his right arm.

Angus and his family met respiratory therapist and 2017 Sound to Narrows finisher Gina McCarthy in the Intensive Care Unit at Tacoma General.

"I never give people false hope, but I told Fred and his wife I would run Sound to Narrows with him when recovered," McCarthy recalls.

McCarthy says she immediately questioned herself after she said that.

"He was the sickest patient we had in 2017," McCarthy says. "He tried to die on me a few times. I never thought we'd get here. It's pretty amazing."

Angus left Tacoma General in a wheelchair in July 2017. He had to relearn to walk, talk, eat and regain the use of his right arm.

With the support of friends, neighbors and coworkers, Angus said he was able to focus on his recovery.

There was something else that motivated him along the way. 

"I thought, 'I'm going to get through this and I'm going to run Sound to Narrows next year,'" Angus said.

McCarthy received an email from Angus two weeks before the race: "So, are we running Sound to Narrows?"

In her words, she freaked out.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' It's awesome to have someone make a recovery like that so fast," McCarthy says.

Celebrating his recovery with McCarthy at Sound to Narrows was important to Angus and his family.

"She was instrumental in my recovery. She was there for my wife and stepson, that was important," Angus says. "Even when I was unconscious she was there and instrumental in helping me get where I am today."

With Sound to Narrows 2018 under his belt, Angus says he is ready for the 2019 race.

"Completing the Sound to Narrows this year was very exciting and, although I have run it in years past, this was the best run I have ever had. Not the fastest by far, simply the most enjoyable and exciting. Crossing that finish line was emotionally amazing."

About The Author

Jen Rittenhouse Jen Rittenhouse
Jen Rittenhouse is the social media manager for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She writes stories that connect people with hospitals, health care and each other. You can reach her at [email protected].
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