The mystery as to the health issues of Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula were at long last revealed Tuesday morning in a story written by her daughter, Jessica Pegula, at the website The Players Tribune.
Tennis player Jessica Pegula said her mother suffered cardiac arrest at the family home in Florida last June. She had been sleeping and when she began to go into arrest, her husband, Terry Pegula, awoke and found her unresponsive.
She was actually saved by another of the Pegula children, daughter Kelly, who performed CPR while an ambulance was en route to the home. Paramedics continued life-saving measures on the way to the hospital, and Kim was admitted, and the biggest concern was whether she suffered any brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
‘Today, my mom is still in recovery and although it is the same answer every time someone asks me, it is true, she is improving every day,’ Jessica Pegula wrote. ‘She is dealing with significant expressive aphasia and significant memory issues. She can read, write, and understand pretty well, but she has trouble finding the words to respond.
‘It is hard to deal with and it takes a lot of patience to communicate with her, but I thank God every day that we can still communicate with her at all. The doctors continue to be blown away by her recovery, considering where she started, and her determination is the driving force of that.’
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Jessica Pegula wrote about the family’s wishes to keep Kim’s medical condition private, and it was quite remarkable that until Tuesday, no one outside the family and perhaps their closest friends knew what had happened.
There had been speculation about cardiac arrest, or perhaps a stroke, but the family never officially released information. The Bills did issue a statement back in November that read:
‘Kim Pegula is receiving medical care as a result of some unexpected health issues. We are very grateful for the progress she has made over the past few days. She has an exceptional team of medical experts at her side. We ask that you keep Kim and our family in your prayers and ask that you respect our need for privacy.’
But again, nothing in the way of what had happened.
Jessica Pegula, one of the top-ranked tennis players in the world, had just returned from the French Open when her mother fell ill. After several weeks, when it was clear that while Kim had a very long and difficult road to recovery ahead of her but was out of imminent danger, Jessica flew to England to play at Wimbledon.
Obviously distracted, she was knocked out in the third round, though she did make it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.
In November, Jessica – who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world in the WTA rankings – won her second professional tournament, but her first WTA 1000 event, in Guadalajara, Mexico, a victory she dedicated to Kim. Last month, she also reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
In a tuneup tournament in Sydney, Australia prior to the Australian Open, Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during a game in Cincinnati on Jan. 2. Pegula learned that news just before she was scheduled to play a match and she admitted it rocked her.
‘My stomach sunk because it felt like the exact same thing all over again,’ she wrote. ‘I wanted to throw up. I was supposed to go on for mixed doubles in 15 minutes and I remember telling one of my teammates, ‘I am a little freaked out right now, this is too close to home, and I feel like I am going to have a panic attack.’ ‘
She ultimately played, and won.
Jessica revealed that Kim is now home in Florida, and she is keeping tabs on the Bills, Buffalo Sabres, and Jessica’s career, via television.
‘She never watched my matches before, because she got too nervous,’ Jessica wrote. ‘Now she watches all of them.’
Follow Sal Maiorana on Twitter @salmaiorana.