Hav­ing heart to carry on

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - REXINE HAWES

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.’’

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