Rich Piana‘s girlfriend is hoping to set the record straight about her boyfriend’s death.
Jansen recalled giving Piana a haircut on Aug. 10, when she said he lost consciousness.
“I thought he was stretching and all of a sudden he started to fall back to me,” she said. “I said, ‘Baby, are you OK?’ As he came back, his eyes were rolling into the back of his head.”
“I went to catch him and he was sweating so he slipped, bumped his head, fell back,” she continued. “His eyes were wide open and he was gasping.”
Jansen says she gave him chest compressions until the ambulance arrived, but doctors later told her that Piana “was gone before he even hit the floor,” from a heart attack. He remained in a medically induced coma for almost two weeks before they took him off life support, based on his will.
“They said he had no chance of a meaningful recovery and he was in a vegetative state,” Jansen told PEOPLE exclusively. “I said, ‘It’s a good thing it’s not up to me, because I love him so much I’m too selfish to make that decision [to take him off life support].’ He was breathing on his own for nearly a week, and then he just let go.”
She said she had suspected that something was wrong with Piana, who has a history of steroid use, a few days prior to his heart attack, when the couple was visiting Los Angeles and Piana had two episodes of vomiting and difficultly breathing. She pushed him to go to the hospital, but Piana kept refusing.
“He hates going to the doctor, he hates going to the hospital; so he was just like, ‘No I’m fine,’ ” Jansen says. “He was the kind of guy who wouldn’t tell you he wasn’t feeling well. He was just real stubborn. He didn’t want to show that he was in pain or hurt.”
In her YouTube video, Jansen addresses Piana’s steroid use, saying, “You all know he’s been doing steroids for 20 years and it shouldn’t be any surprise that he had steroids in his house.”
“Twenty bottles is not a whole lot and they had been there a year,” she continued. “He wasn’t overly juicing.”
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She also addressed discussions of white powder found in the bodybuilder’s home, and said it wasn’t cocaine but a pre-workout powder.
Jansen broke down, saying she had been in the hospital with Piana every day for three weeks and recalled his last moments.
“I was right there with him. I needed to see him go peacefully. I was holding his hand while he slept,” she said.
She ended her video with an encouraging note to continue to be positive.
“Continue on with his legacy. Make him proud,” she said. “Please, please, stay strong and lift each other up.”