For John Reynolds, grabbing an energy drink on his way to work seemed a good way to help him stay alert for his night shift.
But his wife Cassondra, from California, in the US, says it was a habit that would end up killing him, The Sun reports.
The 41-year-old, who didn’t drink or smoke, died in February 2011 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Cassondra, 49, has released a heartbreaking photograph of the last time John saw his children to highlight the risks of high-caffeine energy drinks.
The dad-of-three worked nights as a mechanic and would usually consume an energy drink on his way there.
One morning, Cassondra woke to hear her husband gasping for breath and had to perform CPR while desperately waiting for emergency services.
She later found out that he had suffered a cardiac arrest and was immediately transported to hospital where he was put on life support and into a medically induced coma.
Sadly, just weeks later, John was pronounced brain dead, and Cassondra was left with the heart-wrenching decision to turn his life support off.
The couple, who had been together for 10 years, had three boys together who were five, six and eight at the time.
“John was healthy, he worked out every day, he had had a full physical examination the month prior, and all his results came back fine,” Cassondra said.
“When he went to the hospital, the doctor told me that his sugar levels were sky high and was asking me all sorts of questions about his lifestyle, whether he took drugs and if he had any health issues.
“He was put in a medically induced coma and a therapeutic state of hypothermia to try and prevent any further damage to his brain caused by a lack of oxygen.
“Eventually, the doctor asked me if he drank energy drinks, which I replied yes, but only once a day.”
The doctor explained to Cassondra that it only took one energy drink to throw off the heart’s rhythm and cause a heart arrhythmia.
“When he was pronounced brain dead, I let my children come and visit him to say their goodbyes. I asked the nurse to remove as many wires as possible so that they wouldn’t be scared,” the heartbroken wife recounted.
“He was a really good dad and the best husband, watching him take his last breath was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I felt like my heart was physically breaking.
“He was the love of my life and my soulmate.
“You can’t move on when your heart belongs to someone else.
DANGERS OF ENERGY DRINKS
Cassondra wants people to know how dangerous these drinks are.
“I need people to speak out about losing their loved ones because it happens all the time, you just don’t hear about it,” she said.
“The doctor told me that drinking energy drinks is like playing Russian roulette with your life, and that really stuck with me”.
STATE OF PANIC
On February 5, 2011, Cassondra woke up to her husband suffering a cardiac arrest in bed and gasping for air.
She got him on the floor to perform CPR, which the emergency services guided her through on the phone.
As this was happening, her three children walked in, asking “What’s wrong with Daddy?”
Cassondra immediately sent them to their rooms and waited for an ambulance, which arrived within three minutes of her making the call.
“I just couldn’t believe that it was happening. I was in a state of panic and shock because I had no idea what was happening to my husband,” Cassondra said.
“I saw him turn from blue to grey and I was just praying that nothing would happen to him.”
Once the paramedics arrived, John was whisked straight to hospital, and as Cassondra was escorted to his bed, she was relieved to find out that he was still breathing.
The doctor began asking Cassondra questions about John’s lifestyle and any pre-existing health conditions he had, to which she told them that he was healthy, worked out every day and had never had any problems with his health.
At first they thought John may have had a diabetic episode because of his high sugar levels to which Cassondra told them that he wasn’t diabetic.
He was sent to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and was placed in a medically induced coma.
The head cardiologist came out and told Cassondra it wasn’t normal for a healthy 41-year-old who doesn’t drink or smoke and has what appears to be a strong heart to suffer a cardiac arrest.
“We need to find what caused this,” he told her.
He began asking Cassondra a series of questions about the kind of foods John ate and what medication he was on when eventually he asked her if he drank energy drinks.
“I told him that yes he does, but only once a day before he goes to work because he has to work night shifts,” she said.
“They began to put the pieces together, but I still couldn’t believe that one energy drink could cause this much pain.”
After four days of being in the hospital, Cassondra was told that her husband had an anoxic brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain and had a long road of recovery ahead of him.
“During those two weeks, I didn’t allow the boys to visit because I didn’t want them seeing their dad in that state,” Cassondra said.
“He was linked up to so many wires, and I just didn’t want them to have that image in their head”.
John’s brain continued to seize and 14 days after he was first admitted into the hospital, he was pronounced brain dead.
On February 19, Cassondra turned off her husband’s life support and her three boys had to say their final goodbye to their father.
“I told them three days prior he was going to be going to heaven and not able to come back home to us,” Cassondra said.
“They knew they were going to say goodbye, but they were too young to really process and understand it all.
“Telling them that their dad had passed away was the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; the first being turning off his life support.
“I sat there squeezing his hand and kissing him for 31 minutes as I watched all signs of life slowly leave this beautiful man’s body. This man who was my everything.
“My husband was supposed to be an organ donor, and I thought at least his death would mean something.
“I found out a few weeks later the nurse never contacted the proper people to harvest his organs when he expired.
“He had the most beautiful blue eyes and I just wanted to be able to see them again, but that chance was taken from me”.
Nine years after the death of her husband, Cassondra has launched the Awareness Project that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of energy drinks and pre-workout supplements.
“If you suspect that your loved one has had an adverse reaction to these drinks, report it to your governing food agency,” she said.
“These drinks are not tested enough, and there is no age limit in the US for who can buy these drinks.
“It’s important people understand the dangers do not lay solely with the high caffeine and sugar content.
“It’s the synergistic effect when these substances are combined with the additional stimulants contained in energy drinks that appears to be causing so many cardiac issues.
“I have heard so many horror stories from parents whose children have died as a result of these drinks yet less than 1 per cent of energy drink-related adverse effect and deaths are reported.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what me and my children have had to go through these past nine years. It doesn’t get any easier, you just learnt how to cope with it.”
The group that Cassondra started, Energy Drink and Pre-Workout Awareness, has 11,000 members on Facebook.
“He was my only family, he was my everything and he was my soulmate, and now he’s gone,” Cassondra said.
This article originally appeared on The Sun