It was Good Friday, 21st March 2008. I was driving my 15 year old son down to an Easter music camp in rural Victoria, so I’d booked us a motel in Wagga Wagga, on the New South Wales/Victoria border, about 450km from Sydney, so I could deliver him bright and early to the music camp on the Saturday.
The previous day, Thursday, I’d had the car serviced, and walking from the garage to my studio had been a bit tortuous. I was out of breath, had pains in my chest and felt very strange. I thought I was just unfit. At the time I was working at the computer for several hours a day, which gave me back trouble, so I’d been doing stretching exercises given to me by my osteopath. I thought the chest pains were just from overdoing the exercises. Well, that’s what I told myself. That night as I went to bed I mentioned to my wife that I was feeling odd and had these exercise-related pains in my chest. She said if you feel that way in the morning go to the doctor. But in the morning I felt OK, so off we drove. In retrospect I knew something was a little bit wrong, but didn’t want to admit it, and I had been looking forward to spending some time with my son, who was of course very into music. We listened to lots of CDs on the journey, he’d pick one and I’d pick one. We had a great trip, with, fortunately, no recurrence of the chest pains.
After we checked in to the motel, because it was Good Friday, we drove into the main street while it was still light to see what was open for dinner, as places would be closed for the public holiday. As we drove the chest pains came back, and I felt a numbness in my jaw. When we got back to the motel I told my son I was going to have a lie-down before we went for dinner. I told him about the pains. He said, with sensible wisdom beyond his years, Dad if you have pain in your jaw you might be having a heart attack. So I went to reception and asked directions to the hospital. Once I told them what was going on they took over, bless them, drove us to the hospital, where I was admitted and stayed till the following Tuesday when I was flown by air ambulance to Sydney and had a stent inserted.
The hospital staff were brilliant, with me and with my son. They bought him dinner and he stayed the night at the motel on his own – at the time he was obsessed with rugby league and there were two games on TV that night to occupy him. Of course I called my wife and she flew down the next morning and took him to the music camp.
Anyway that was 10 years ago today.
I was 54 at the time, the age my mother’s father had been when he dropped dead of a heart attack the year before I was born. My mother also had heart problems from her late fifties. When I was admitted to hospital they asked me if I smoked – no, I had given up 27 years earlier. I was skinny as I have always been i.e. not overweight. They asked about my family history, I told them and they said – that’s the cause.
Since then I’ve religiously taken my meds, and walk every morning (well, most mornings) for 30-40 minutes, avoid those cholesterol heavy foods, not that I ever ate them too much anyway, and touch wood I seem to be OK.
Thank you for listening and good health to you all.