Having heart to carry on
Jane Ewen is very happy lady, happy that she still has her husband.
In July last year equine veterinarian Bill Ewen’s life almost came to a crashing halt after his aorta split.
One frosty morning when Bill was walking across the car park from his vet practice Marks Ewen and Associates Ltd, to his car, he experienced extreme pain in his back and throat.
‘‘It felt like I had been hit in the back with a tomahawk and someone was grabbing my throat. I got wobbly and fell over.
‘‘I got to my (car) seat and thought I better get help, as I tried to stand up my legs wouldn’t take my weight and I collapsed.’’
Vet nurse Sarita Kennedy saw him. With his face grazed from the fall, she thought he had slipped.
‘‘I managed to communicate I had chest pain and an ambulance was there quickly,’’ he said.
A staff member contacted Jane.
‘‘I got a call to say Bill had fallen. I thought he had slipped, it was frosty,’’ Jane says.
‘‘By the time I got there he was in the ambulance. He looked horrific, his face was grazed there was blood everywhere and he was a terrible colour.’’
With a normal ECG, paramedics couldn’t make sense of what was happening, but an additional ambulance was dispatched from Hamilton with an intensive care paramedic on board who met them in Cambridge.
‘‘After questions away.’’
Bill had an aortic split, which was filling with blood and required emergency and immediate type A aortic dissection repair and aortic valve replacement surgery.
Bill says upon arriving at the hospital, everything went fast.
‘‘They did a CT scan, she she asked knew a few straight ultrasound, took bloods and an x-ray and it was all so quick, I was priority one.
‘‘When I went into theatre I thought at least I got here, the pain was easing, but I was feeling terrible, it’s a feeling I can’t describe, I was just pleased to be alive.
‘‘They were going to gain access via the artery in the groin and neck to connect to the heart/ lung machine, but said they ran out of time and instead opened me up. My heart was not beating, but only fluttering.’’
After six hours Bill was out of surgery, but with a concerning amount of blood coming from the chest drain, surgeons rushed Bill
Throughout February, volunteers will be visible on streets nationwide to raise funds for the Heart Foundation’s annual appeal.
The Heart Foundation is New Zealand’s leading independent funder of heart research.
Since 1970, it has invested more than $57 million in research and specialist training.
More than 6000 people die from heart disease every year in New Zealand.
It is almost 20 times the 2016 road toll.
169,000 Kiwis currently living with heart disease.
Kiwi women are more than four times more likely to die from a heart disease than breast cancer. back in, still anaesthetised and removed over a litre of blood clots.
After a week of post-op care in hospital, Bill was able to return home and is now six months into recovery.
The experience has made him appreciate life, he tries not to ‘‘sweat the small things’’.
Bill says his condition was symptomless but the problem might have been detected via regular GP checks, and that’s his advice for others.
‘‘There were a lot of men in my ward who had bypasses, but a lot of them hadn’t seen their doctors, they had just had a scare and were the lucky ones who survived a heart attack.’’