Her tombstone could have read: Anita Scott Jones, Feb. 17 1963 — March 14, 2018.
Or Anita Scott Jones, Feb. 17 1963 — April 10, 2018.
Or Anita Scott Jones, Feb. 17 1963 — July 4, 2018.
“Lightning struck three times,” Scott Jones said of her near-death experiences.
But she has weathered those cardiac calamities and obviously has a lot more living to do.
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The dash between her birth date and death date isn’t over.
“I don’t know how much more time I have on this earth,” the 55-year-old said while sitting in her office at Atrium Medical Center, where she serves as director of hospital relations. “What am I going to do with my dash every single day is what I did from the beginning. But now with more clarity.”
To illustrate, she picked up her glasses and looked at a small spinning globe that sits on a table. Without the glasses she could only read the countries in larger print. But with the glasses, every country was clearer.
Instead of saying nearly dying three times within six months “changed” her life, she prefers to say the experiences “enhanced” her life.
“We tend to sweat the small stuff,” she said.
This was a woman who nearly ignored the symptoms of a heart attack until it was too late.
On March 14, Scott Jones had a lengthy meeting with Pastor Lamar Ferrell from Berachah Church in Middletown. Then she went into the restroom where she said she started to sweat profusely and was unable to move or talk.
She told herself: “It will pass.”
Twenty minutes later, she saw Ferrell in the church lobby and when he hugged her goodbye, her shirt was soaking wet. Instead of calling for paramedics, Scott Jones drove home, went to bed and returned to work the next day like nothing happened.
Four weeks later, she was sitting in her car near Atrium when she couldn’t catch her breath.
“Lord,” she prayed, “if You just get me across the street, I’m going to the ER.”
When she arrived, she called the ER: “I need help.”
Lab results revealed she had a heart attack and was in congestive heart failure. She was admitted to the hospital’s ICU for one week. When discharged, she was given a wearable defibrillator called LifeVest, worn by patients at risk of sudden cardiac death.
On July 4, Scott Jones was preparing to ride in Middletown’s Fourth of July Parade. She stepped out of her car to adjust the helium balloons. She said it felt like her body “went vertical” and she was floating.
“Oh, what is this?” she thought.
That was about the last thing she remembered. She was told she slammed her body into her car, then collapsed and hit her head on the pavement. Two close friends — Marie Edwards and Jeri Lewis — prayed for Scott Jones, and Middletown paramedics, already on scene because of the parade, arrived. She believes those people were there for a reason.
“The right people at the right place,” she said.
At one point, she saw clear blue skies, she said.
“My soul and my spirit were in heaven,” she said. “He said, ‘No, back to the body.’ I don’t know why he chose me.”
Her EKG later revealed irregularity and that her heart went still for 42 seconds or four and a half pages of results. The LifeVest fired and restarted her heart.
“I was always raised to believe in God, in a heaven,” she said. “I know heaven is real now. Those four and a half pages that my heart stopped … I know heaven is real. I don’t know if people want to hear that or not hear that. But that’s the story I’ve got to tell.”
Her story is still being written. The former Middletown City Council member and vice mayor is close to obtaining her doctorate and she is team captain for “The A Team” that represents Atrium at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
“I don’t know why God spared me,” she said. “People always say if you come through something traumatic, and He spares you, there is a reason. I’m not so concerned about the reason because I know heaven is real. If He wanted me here, there is a reason.”
She paused, looked back at that world globe, then added: “We come here to die. We are here for just a season, or two or three or four. It’s going to end. What difference have you made in somebody else’s life? I know there is something for me to do. But there’s always been something for me to do.”
That date after the dash will have to wait.