• Up In Smoke With Matthew Schlagenhaft

    Up In Smoke With Matthew Schlagenhaft

    There are rare instances when our lives become so disrupted that by the time we arrive at the other end of the tunnel, we come out as a different person. For house fire survivor Matthew Schlagenhaft, his traumatic experience and the long road to recovery led him to pursue what he is passionate about. Trapped alone in a burning house in Arlington, Virginia in 2017, Matt suffered from internal burns in his lungs, which caused difficulties in breathing and extreme discomfort for years. Coming out strong from his recovery, he is now back playing hockey – his real passion. His is an uplifting story of tragedy, recovery, and self-rediscovery – inspiring us to carry on no matter what life throws at us. Listen as he shares his story with Dr. Kevin Pecca.

    Listen To The Episode Here:

    Up In Smoke With Matthew Schlagenhaft

    Thank you so much for reading. If you like the episode, please subscribe and share it. It’s available on platforms everywhere. We have an unbelievable guest, Matthew Schlagenhaft, or as the people like to call him, Schlags. Schlags went to bed one night just like any other night, and he woke up the next day in a medically-induced coma, second-degree burns on his chest and he had no idea what happened. It turned out he was in a house fire. He passed out from the smoke. The first responders came in seven minutes. They told him maybe one more minute and he might not even make it. He is grateful to be alive right now. These are my favorite episodes. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to start this show. It’s such a beautiful message. It’s beautiful to talk to somebody that had such a life-altering event and came out the other side with a new, fresh perspective on life. I thank Matt for coming on, sharing his story, laying all the cards out on the table. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did. Please welcome, Matthew Schlagenhaft.

    We have a special guest, one of my good friends, Matt Schlagenhaft. He’s a great hockey player. I grew up playing some college puck with him. He has a pretty amazing life story that I’m excited to get into because I never heard the story firsthand. It’s one of those stories where something happens to you and you come out at the other end of the tunnel and you’re a different person. He’s an all-around great guy. I’m excited about this episode. Please welcome, Matt Schlagenhaft. How are you? 

    I’m good. I appreciate the intro. I’m happy to be here.

    I’m glad you’re willing to come on and share your story because I’m sure it’s been a little bit of a wild ride for you the last couple of years with some good times, some bad times. Overall, you’re doing well. I love having people with this type of story on the show because it sheds some light on some life circumstances you don’t see coming and you roll with the punches and you get through it. Where are you from originally?

    I’m born and raised in the same house in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey.

    That’s a beautiful lake. Summers over there are fun. 

    It was nice. We have one growing up and then we weren’t going out on it as much as we used to, but pretty much everyone had a boat. We weren’t on the lake but we were half a mile walk from the lake. Going out there, it’s always good times.

    EM 132 | House Fire Survivor

    House Fire Survivor: When they induce you into a coma, you don’t remember things.

     

    Was hockey something you were always into growing up?

    Once I started playing it, I loved it. I was lucky with getting into it with our youth, Jefferson Township. You enroll in every sport like soccer, basketball and they had an outdoor roller hockey league. That was as popular as US soccer. There were twelve teams for the entry-level thing and then one year, the town ice hockey coach was the roller hockey coach. I wasn’t bad. He’s like, “I see you like it. Do you know how to ice skate?” Growing up on the lake and the winters, I would ice skate out there.

    Some good pond hockey out there. 

    I got into it and started playing in third-grade. That does my whole childhood.

    I met you in college. We had some good times together. What was your plan going into college? What did you want to get out of it? What did you want to do afterward?

    I had no idea. I was like that typical kid who goes to college. I went to college because everyone told you to go to college. I grew up lucky that we had the ability for me to go to college. I wasn’t great academically in high school, but I did go to a Catholic high school and that steered us towards there. I don’t know if they have this for you because you were a couple of years ahead of me, but do you know the Common App? Do you ever have that?

    Yeah. It’s one application for a bunch of different schools.

    I didn’t feel like filling out a bunch of application and our guidance counselors were pushing everyone. They’re like, “You should apply to X amount of schools.” I was like, “Give me a list of the schools on the Common App.” Catholic ended up offering a little money because I was confirmed in the Catholic Church and I went to a Catholic high school and my parents were like, “No other school offered you a penny. You owe it to us. Go down to DC and look at Catholic.” That was for Odyssey Day.

    I met you on that day. We had the great group of guys down there that we still talk to now. We had a great alumni game. I can’t ask for a better group of guys, my grade and your grade included. They’re all unbelievable people. What were you doing after college? You stayed in the DC area, right?

    Yes. I majored in Accounting and there was an Accounting grad school program at Catholic. They had started the year before my senior year. The head of the Accounting Department, I got an internship right after my senior year and I worked internships. I got my Master’s in Accounting immediately after graduating. I had a fifth-year of normal college. I was still taking fifteen credits a semester. I still had full-time classes, but I was able to work and I got to transition into the real world.

    A lot of people would kill for that extra year of school to make that transition and you played another year at hockey?

    Yeah. At that point, we had started Club Lacrosse too. I was playing that. I’m going from happy hours with partners and then I’m like, “I got lacrosse practice.” They’re like, “How old are you? What are you doing?” I’m like, “23.” They’re like, “You’re playing lacrosse?”

    How was the transition into the real world when school was done and you’re working at the accounting firms? Did you like it? How was that?

    I liked it. I interned there through grad school. I got the offer before my internship was over. I knew pretty much who I was going to be working for and what I was going to be doing. That was reassuring. I ended up living with a couple of kids from college, it was smooth. Looking back, I didn’t stick around in public accounting but I almost felt like in some ways it wasn’t the most beneficial because I was still living with kids I partied with in college. I’m still working on a job that I was able to get away with stuff when I was an intern. I never sat down and was like, “We’re done.” I was still hanging on to being a college student. I’m like, “You can’t be doing this.”

    Maybe it was before the house incident happened, I remember talking to you at Wendell’s wedding and you were looking for something else, like a different transition. It’s not that you were displeased with your job or anything. You were looking for something different. I remember getting that sense out of you. It happened for you, which is awesome, through a roundabout way. Let’s jump into what happened. I like asking people when someone has a big life event happened to them, what was that whole day like? Did you feel weird? Did it feel off? Did it feel like a normal day?

    Short answer, it was a completely normal day. It was nothing. I had gotten back from Minnesota the day before. It was a Tuesday night and I got in late Sunday or coming home from work Monday. I was exhausted and then it was finally Tuesday. I’d gotten through that Monday and through the Tuesday and I was like, “We’re going to chill.” I remember being like, “I don’t have to get on a flight for a couple of weeks. I’m good.” It was completely normal. I didn’t have any premonitions or anything.

    What happened that night? What do you recall? I’ve never heard this story from you. I’ve heard from people that visited you in the hospital afterward and I was getting it from everybody else. I’d love to know it from the source.

    I was living in Arlington, Virginia, and living with three of my buddies. One night our house burned down and I got trapped in the house. I wasn’t able to get out. Everyone else was no problem, but I wasn’t able to get out and fireman rescued me out unconscious through my bedroom window. They put me in a medically induced coma for a couple of hours.

    Were you conscious at all? Did you wake up in a panic or when did you wake up? You were sleeping when this was all going on. You woke up in the hospital. 

    I get home from work that Tuesday night and this is October 10th. It happened technically October 11th at 1:00 in the morning. It was the first-ever home game in the Vegas Golden Knights history. They had that horrible shooting a couple of weeks before that. Their first-ever home game, they had that huge ceremony. As if a big hockey game’s not emotional enough. It’s like, “Wow.” It was a moment, but I remember having a couple of beers with my roommates and watching that game. That was the last thing I remember and I woke up in the hospital.

    What caused the fire?

    They don’t know. It was inconclusive. It was an old house. They think it was some electrical wiring outside. As I said, it was beginning of October. Somebody could have flicked a cigarette out their window, sitting at a stop sign and it hits a leaf. They never figured out what it was.

    What was it like waking up in the hospital the next day with no recollection of anything? What’s your state of mind? Right as you wake up, what the hell was that like?

    Immediately, I opened my eyes and you think you’re in a dream. You’re doped up with something like that and that’s why I don’t recall anything. I’m sure there are people reading to this that know a lot more about medicine than me. I said I studied accounting. It’s probably not going to be perfectly accurate, but when they induced you into a coma you don’t remember the things.

    Why did they do that?

    I don’t recall. I don’t know if I rolled out of bed and was never officially conscious, went from breathing to not breathing or for all I know I got up and tried to get out of my room for a minute. What ultimately happened were the fumes coming through the floorboards, the whole house was so hot that I took a couple of breaths. From the breaths, the chemicals knocked me out and then I ended up getting second-degree burns in my lungs.

    You stopped breathing and your body’s burning on the inside? 

    Yeah. I had gotten a second-degree burns from inhaling the hot air and all the chemicals in them. When they found me, I wasn’t breathing and I was unconscious and they got me out of the house.

    How long were you in the house for burning like that? 

    We don’t know how long. There’s four of us that live there. One of them was away at his girlfriend’s for that night, thankfully, because the fire started on the porch. It’s an old house, so it’s a wooden porch. Once that went up, the house was history. His room was right on the porch.

    He might have been gone. 

    His room was incinerated and he was gone, so that was good. My other two roommates got out of the house. As I said, I wasn’t there for it, but from what I heard, it’s black smoke. They can’t see anything. They wake up they’re thinking they’re having a bad dream. They run outside and in a matter of seconds, they see each other. They’re like, “What’s going on?” They’re like, “Where is Schlag?” They start yelling and then they try to go in our back entrance by the kitchen where they ran out of. At that point, the fire had moved in where the stairs and the entrance and they couldn’t get back in the house. The only other entrance was off of the front porch, which wasn’t an option.

    EM 132 | House Fire Survivor

    House Fire Survivor: Imagine not being able to breathe. It’s not fun.

     

    Did they have their phones on them? 

    No. They ran out with no phones, no wallets, no shirts, no anything.

    It was the neighbors that called the fire department then?

    Yeah. They ran out yelling in the streets and one of the neighbors that heard the ruckus and my roommates yelling for me. As much as they are trying to save me, they’re not like, “One of us go run, grab a phone.” This all happens in a matter of seconds I imagine. The second they started yelling, a neighbor came out, saw it and was like, “I already called. What do you need?” The firemen were absolute heroes. The phone on the wall rang in the fire department until they had me stabilized and breathing in the ambulance was seven minutes. How insane is that? These guys are heroes. I can’t thank them without thanking my roommates because when they got there, my roommates were on the spot legit surgeons where they were like, “He’s in that room. It’s that window. When you go in through the back door, there’s going to be stairs. He’s at the first room on the right.” The firemen were like, “Your roommates, they couldn’t have made it easier for us.” When you’re not breathing like that, I don’t want to be grim, but you don’t know if two more minutes you get permanent brain damage or something.

    It could have been one more minute. Who the hell knows? Seven minutes, that’s one of the most impressive stats I’ve ever heard. 

    It was insane. They’re right down the road. Arlington Company is heroes. They’re nice guys too.

    Let’s go back to where I was asking you, what were those first minutes to the first hour like in the hospital waking up from that was another night going to bed to where you could have been completely gone? What’s running through your head? Walk me through it. You open your eyes and what happens? 

    I’m on my back and I don’t think I’m strapped down, but there are people all around me. I don’t have a lot of strength either. When I’m saying I’m kicking and stuff, you’d imagine somebody in a straight jacket, it probably wasn’t like that. In my head, I’m like, “What is going on?” I’m trying to feel all my limbs. It was almost like a bad dream where I’m like, “Can I feel everything?”

    Did you think you have paralyzed at all or something?

    That’s why I started kicking and then I realized immediately when I started doing that, they started talking to me.

    The doctors? 

    Yeah. They were in my year, but I also couldn’t talk because they intubated me and I was on a ventilator. I had a tube going through my throat breathing for me. I wasn’t able to breathe on my own, but also they were worried even if they got me back, that my esophagus and throat and everything was inflamed that it would have shut. I wouldn’t have been able to breathe. They had this tube running through, it was open and breathing for me. When I woke up, I think at least I was breathing on my own, but it was still like, “We need to keep this tube in there because if we take it out, it could shut and you can’t breathe.” I can’t talk. They’re all like, “There was a fire, everyone’s fine.” Honestly, I woke up and it was a couple of seconds of dread, but then it was better news that “You’re okay.” Once I find out I’m okay, I’m like, “What do I look like?” I was in a house fire, which is another thing. Not to be shallow, but you’re like, “Am I even going to recognize myself?” I was banged up and stuff, but I had no serious exterior burns or anything.

    Just the second degree burns in the lungs. 

    All my burns are internal. They were telling me stuff, but it was still freaky because I can’t converse.

    You’re hearing the information, you’re wanting to say stuff and you can’t talk. 

    Even if I could talk, they’d be like, “What are you saying? There’s so much morphine in you.”

    In your mind, did you think you were talking? 

    I could tell it was the weirdest feeling ever. I was like yelling. I couldn’t even move my mouth to pretend I was making the noises. It wasn’t even like when you’re underwater you could say something and you can hear the vibrations. It was one same tone. I couldn’t even move.

    Your hearing was probably a little jacked up too, right? 

    Yeah. Also, I could feel that I wasn’t even able to move my mouth enough to make the noise. Even my tongue and stuff were stabilized. It was a yell if I made any noise at all and they were like, “You don’t want to do that. Give your lungs a rest, trust me.”

    How long did they have you like that? 

    I had that tube in me for a little over 24 hours.

    You were chilling, no talking, just watching. Were you tired?

    Yeah. I slept most of that first day. When I woke up, that was 6:00, 7:00 AM. My roommates were a mess. They didn’t have their phones or wallets. They couldn’t get anything until the fire was out for long enough that the fireman cleared them to go in and grab something. They got their phones and then they didn’t have my parents’ phone numbers. They started calling my friends who would have my parents’ phone numbers, but it’s 5:30, 6:00, 7:00 AM. Some people are still snoozing it. It took a while to get a hold of anyone.

    What a phone call for a parent to wake up to too.

    People started showing up and hanging out with me. I don’t remember a lot of it. When everything finally cleared and they got the number of my doctors and they were talking to my roommates on the phone and they were like, “No, we’re with him.” That’s when they got me a notepad and I was writing stuff to people. More people started showing up and it was funny because you know me, I could talk for days. People reading this would be like, “This kid isn’t done yet?” It was that people were like, “This is great. You haven’t had to talk all day. We might keep this in another 36 hours.”

    They take the tube out and everything and what’s that like? 

    They kept it in for 24 hours. The next morning, they wake me up. I didn’t sleep that great anyway. I was up before they moved me to the procedure room where they’re going to take it out. The one thing I remember is I had one of my parents leave their phone with me because I didn’t have my phone yet. Nobody dug for it in the house because it wasn’t necessary. What was I going to do with the phone anyway? I started looking up all the articles because some people had seen it online and it was on the news. To my roommates, they’re like, “Is that your guys’ house?” It had said in the articles that it was like, “Life-threatening injuries.” At that point, horrible news but in 24 hours, we’re in the clear. I remember asking the one nurse and legally they can’t say, “Yes.” I’m writing it on a marker board though.

    “Am I going to live?” 

    Yeah. I was writing about how Charlie Kelly talks and always fun too. I was like, “Alive me?” It’s not life-threatening anymore. The procedure that they were getting me up for was to remove the tube and be like, “Is he going to breathe on his own or is it going to shut?” She was like, “If it shuts, we need to do an emergency tracheotomy and those are always tricky.” I’m like, “Can I text some people quickly?” I remember texting my girlfriend and my parents and it was the last thing they wanted to see at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, but I was like, “They’re about to do this risky procedure. If things go wrong, thank you for everything. I love you.” I was confident it was going to be fine, but I believe there is a chance.

    There’s always that one little thing. What happens when they took it out? 

    It worked. They pulled it out.

    Did you start breathing on your own?

    Yeah. I puked a little blood behind it. It’s almost like pulling out a catheter. It’s the same thing, which was also fun. That happened too. It was like ripping off a band-aid. They had two people holding my arms. I’m describing it more violent than it was but for me, I was sitting down waiting for someone to tear this out of my chest. It was out and they immediately gave me oxygen and some other things to help me. It was fine. My heart was racing before and the seconds after they ripped it out. Once it was out, I was breathing and they were like, “You’re in the clear.” They moved me back to my ICU unit and I sat there for four or so days. I was in a general unit for one night and then they cleared me to go.

    What was it like breathing like that, extremely painful?

    I’d also never thought about not breathing. It wasn’t like you were turning the keys in your car and you’re like, “Is she going to start?” I was breathing and I was looking at them like, “We’re good, right?”

    In the days following second-degree burns in the lungs, was it tough to take deep breaths and everything?

    Yeah. I was short of breath, but I wasn’t exerting enough energy to get out of breath. The first time I got up to use the restroom or even go for casual walks, I don’t know how much of that my lungs or my energy level is. It was tough. It was different. It was new. It hurt and it was gross. I ingested so much of the fumes and other chemicals that come with being in an old house. I was spitting up black mucus. Even when I was out of the hospital, I was coughing some stuff up that had coated my lungs like ash.

    Were you in the hospital for four days?

    Five days, but ICU for four and then the regular unit for one.

    You got a good amount of time to ponder shit. I’m sure some of your thoughts are racing. What goes on in your head after in a life event like that? What are you thinking? You must have had some big revelations like, “Holy shit.” 

    You’re like, “What? A house fire?” There was maybe one kid in my middle school that their house burned down and we had a fundraiser for him. Other than that, it’s like, “A house burning down. What happens?” You don’t think about it. I realized how lucky I was for not only that but then the people that came to be by my side and were like, “I can’t believe that.” I was like, “Thank you.”

    People coming out of the woodwork.

    It was awesome to see. My girlfriend was still living in Nashville and she was on the next flight up. My parents, all my friends, and my roommates, I honestly felt bad I put them through that. When we would it was finally in the clear and we would go out, people would all be asking the stories. I’m like, “I’m fine. They had to witness that.” I was drinking a beer and the next thing I knew I was in a hospital and I was like, “I didn’t have to see that.” That must have been horrifying thinking you’re not able to help someone who’s right there. I was like, “I’m sorry, guys.” They were like, “We’re glad you’re all right.” They’re great dudes, but that was crazy.

    I got a couple of questions for you. Do you look at life a little bit differently? Were there some certain things you were taking for granted before that were eye-opening now and you’re like, “Holy shit?” You touched on it before, but you sound more grateful for a lot of things in life.

    It sounds silly and I don’t think I was taking people for granted, but when you see how upset people got and it wasn’t like this. You hear people say and it’s cheesy like, “How many people would come to your funeral?” Things like that.

    You got to see your own funeral. 

    That’s super cheesy when people say that, but I’m like, “This many people took off of work.” I had friends on planes like Nick, Jimmy, Garrett, and Zack.

    They have to see if you were okay. 

    People were on trains and planes, picking each other up. Nick was borrowing his mom’s car and he got a fender bender. She’s like, “Can you drive?” He’s like, “Yeah.” She’s like, “You better keep heading South.” It was nice. As I said, I didn’t take it for granted, but I was like, “These people love me. Maybe I should let these people know how much I love them.” I was smoking cigarettes. I wasn’t a big smoker, but I started in college having some with a beer and then it turns into like, you get a beer, you buy cigarettes too. It becomes a slippery slope. Do you know what it’s like to not be able to breathe? I’ve been doing this so I quit cigarettes and tobacco that day. That was something that was a no brainer as far as long-term health. Imagine not being able to breathe. It’s not fun.

    Did you make any different life decisions after that day? You’re in a completely different city now. You moved to Nashville. Do you have a different job?

    Yeah.

    You got a beautiful girlfriend in Nashville. You wanted to be with her, but do you think this life event made it that much easier? Did it put more things in perspective of doing what you wanted to do? Life can be short so might as well go for it? 

    Like you said, “Life is short and goes for it.” I didn’t have any crazy passion for like, “I want to do this. I want to take a risk and move out here and try and make it.” What I had struggled with was making decisions to be happy where I was like, “No, this is something that is considered more successful.” I hate it and I’m not that great at it. I remember being in the hospital and I had been studying for the CPA exams at the time and I hated it. I was far away from passing one of the exams.

    That’s hard too. 

    I’ve been relieved like, “I have a valid excuse for not studying for a couple of days.” I was like, “Let that sink in. That is not healthy. Why am I working here that I’m relieved I don’t have to go to work for a couple of days?” I thought about what I liked and I wanted to do something different that I felt challenged with. I didn’t like public accounting. I wanted to get more active. I felt like I was robbing myself of dopamine from not being active. I was lounging around and I wanted to pick up hockey again. That was a big motivation

    Did you stop playing hockey for a little bit in Arlington?

    Yeah. I didn’t play for a couple of years after college. I started playing ball hockey because the ice was expensive there and I lost the passion for it. When I got out of there, that was my motivation. I was like, “I’m going to build up my lungs. I’m going to be able to try and play again.” It was a long road and they gave me inhalers. They told me I’ve had asthma. As of August 2019, I’ve been completely off the inhalers. I went and did a lung test breathing exam and stuff and I’m completely off it. I’m back to I was before the fire, if not better. I did that, switched up careers, doing something that I enjoy more, not working those crazy public accounting hours for something you don’t like.

    How was the transition to Nashville? I’ve only spent weekends there and it’s an unreal place and unreal energy you get down there. I’m a huge live music guy. I love going to that city. How has the move been for you?

    It’s been great. I moved here after Thanksgiving 2018. I loved it. My girlfriend, Jess, we went to high school together in New Jersey. She’s in the PhD program down here. I’ve been coming down and visiting her all the time and I loved it. I was spending more of my days off like, “Let’s go there.” Right after the fire, I told myself I’m going to start looking for other stuff. It had happened right before tax season. I was like, “I’m going to finish tax season because I can’t quit in the middle of that. I wouldn’t find a job right away anyway.” I would be screwing over the people that I worked with all summer and fall.

    I was like, “Once this season’s done, I’m going to start looking for stuff.” I started throwing applications to Nashville. It started as like, “Why not?” You start throwing applications everywhere. I didn’t want to go back to New York, New Jersey. The degrees I had and the job I would have got, I would have been either riding the bus for a couple of hours or spend 80% of my salary on rent. I started throwing things down here, got a job with UPS, doing finance stuff. It’s cool. I love it. Living here is great. I’m close to everything. We moved into a two-bedroom here in Nashville with my girlfriend. She was already in a lease when I first came down, but it’s been great. I’ve been playing hockey three nights a week.

    EM 132 | House Fire Survivor

    House Fire Survivor: Certain life instances change the way you look at everything.

     

    You’re playing hockey again. That’s awesome.

    Obviously not with the COVID, but it’s part-time.

    I played for two months and then COVID hit and I was like, “Damn.” I was getting back into it. I missed it. I stopped playing too.

    It’s tough, but Nashville’s been great. Everybody loves music, sports and having fun. It’s been great. I’m happier than I’ve ever been down here for sure.

    That’s what it’s all about my friend. If this fire didn’t happen, who knows that voice in the back of your head could have always been like, “That’s not a smart move for you to go to Nashville financially. This reason, that reason.” A lot of people have that voice in their head forever. Everybody’s got that voice, but there are certain life instances that make either forget about it or you go for it. It sounds like this was also a blessing for you.

    It changes the way you look at everything. I chose to account because it was the most secure way to get a job immediately out of school. It was like, “Let’s start throwing random job applications to a random city in a different state.” It was the opposite of that. I’m glad. It made me look at things in a different way.

    We’ve been talking about this, but I wanted to straight up ask you, what did you learn from this experience?

    You never know, don’t get upset with little things. I see some people get frazzled and I’m not on my soapbox saying, “I’m Mr. Calm and Reasonable all the time.” There are some days where you see people get upset about something, you’re like, “What?” It’s not to say like, “That’s not trauma. I’ll show you trauma.” There are some times where it’s like, “Let’s think about it. We’ll be fine.”

    It could always be worse. At the end of every episode, I like to ask all my guests, if there was one piece of advice you would like to give the audience, it could be anything, what would it be?

    Get renter’s insurance.

    That was one of the things you told me right after it happened. I was like, “What?”

    I don’t know how old your readers are. I don’t know how many are renting, but may you get renter’s insurance. I had sent the check-in a month before it happened and it’s under $200. It covers so much. Get renter’s insurance. It’s simple. I didn’t know that was crazy, but what the fireman had said, and I’m not trying to sound paranoid, but it was something interesting. I know that my mom has shared this with some of her friends with young children or grandchildren, but one thing they had said and we were talking about it before where it’s like, “Who knows if another 30 seconds passed what could have happened?”

    My bedroom door was completely shut. I don’t know if it was locked, but the door clicked in. It was shut. When the fire came up the stairs and with the breeze, it didn’t travel into my room and went by it. It didn’t turn in there, whereas it would have pushed it open and gone in. Even after the fire, when we went back to the house, the hallways and the outside of my bedroom door were pitch-black and then you open my door and it was night and day. There was hardly any ash on the walls in my bedroom. They’re like, “That could have saved your life. We don’t know how.”

    I had no idea about that. That’s crazy.

    I know my mom, their friends, they have infants or younger kids where they run to their parents’ room at night so we leave their door open a little bit. Now, they shut it. I don’t want to spread paranoia and be like, “Make sure you do this.”

    It was a good tip.

    It was crazy. It was like, “Kicking my door shut could’ve saved me?” It’s weird.

    I mentioned this in the beginning when we started, but this is one of the stories why I started this show because it’s inspiring. It’s uplifting. You come out on the other side a completely different person. These are my favorite episodes. Thank you for coming on, laying all the cards out on the table, and telling your story because I love hearing these stories. I know we were a little bit hesitant to do this in the beginning, but thank you so much. These are why I do this show. Thank you for coming on and sharing your story.

    I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. It’s been great. Thank you.

     

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