Terry reflects on a life-changing event . . .
You know that old saying about it never being too late to learn? In the last couple of months, it’s taken on a whole new significance for me – because I have had some real life-changing lessons.
On May 14, while walking through Ipswich town centre, I had a cardiac arrest. Out of the blue. I landed head first on the pavement. At that moment, I had less than a 10 per cent chance of surviving. Amazingly, I’m still here to write this column - and to enjoy all the good things in life - thanks to the actions of some wonderful people.
One was a paramedic, who ‘shocked’ my heart four times to get it beating properly again. Then there was a lady called Lisa Perry, who trains other people in life-saving skills, and just happened to be walking past as all this was going on. She gave me CPR and helped to save my life. I also have to thank the skill of surgeons at both Papworth and Ipswich Hospital, who have worked on my heart. I’m making good progress after what has been a rather bewildering, and at times frightening, journey.
Obviously I have been incredibly lucky. So fortunate it happened in the town centre, with lots of people around. Amazingly lucky that someone with Lisa’s life-saving skills just happened to be right there. I’ve met her and thanked her for what she did. Saying thank you seemed so inadequate in the circumstances . . .
Coming so close to death is difficult to come to terms with. I have had dark thoughts. What if it had happened when I was at home on my own?
Much worse, what if it had happened when I was driving on the A12 with my darling little grand-daughter Ava, as I’ve done so often? I have shed tears thinking about that.
But those things didn’t happen, and I’ve been given a second chance. It’s now up to me to make the most of it. This is where the life-changing lessons come in.
Lesson one: I will make sure I take plenty of exercise – brisk walks, cycling, and golf. They will go in my calendar first, and everything else will have to fit around them. I’ll stay busy, but I am in no doubt where my priorities lie.
Lesson two: I will live for the moment. It’s taken me more than 60 years to learn this, but it’s finally sunk in. When I’m enjoying myself, I will focus on that and not get distracted, worrying about things happening tomorrow, next week, or next month. I realised I had learned the lesson at last when I had a lovely day out with Ava, and her mummy, our daughter, Harriet. We went to Easton Farm Park and then on to Framlingham, my favourite place. Lunch and a visit to the castle. A perfect day, and I simply loved it for what it was. Looks like an old dog can learn new tricks!
Lesson three: The importance of life-saving skills. If I came across someone who needed CPR, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’ve had the best of intentions when it comes to first aid courses. But life has always got in the way.
No more excuses. Without Lisa, I simply wouldn’t be here. So, when you read this, I will be enrolled on a course and, if confronted by a life-and-death situation, I will know what to do. If you feel the same way, just go online and search for courses in Suffolk. It looks as though there are lots.
Lesson four: Every dark cloud has a silver lining. What has been a difficult time has also served as a wonderful reminder of just how kind people are. I’ve been overwhelmed by the cards, letters, texts, e-mails and phone calls from people wishing me well and offering to help. Thank you so much. Your kind thoughts have meant such a lot.
Finally, to my family. Thank you for everything. I couldn’t have done it without your love, support, and encouragement. I love you – and I’m so sorry for the great big scare. x N email@example.com
ABOVE: Terry with Lisa Perry, who helped to save his life by giving him CPR when he collapsed suddenly