Heart at­tack fells Olympian

Cham­pion re­veals his brush with sui­cide af­ter suf­fer­ing brain dam­age in car­diac ar­rest

The Northern Advocate - - Nation - Belinda Feek

Olympic medal­list Dick Tayler has re­vealed how he has bat­tled de­pres­sion and had sui­ci­dal thoughts fol­low­ing a car­diac ar­rest two years ago. Tayler, who was best known for win­ning the 10,000m at the 1974 Com­mon­wealth Games in Christchurch, said his heart stopped for 5 min­utes, dam­ag­ing his brain.

The 70-year-old had been trav­el­ling with a group of peo­ple, in­clud­ing Paul El­lis and Keith Quinn, to the un­veil­ing of the Colin Meads statue in Te Kuiti in June 2017 when his heart went into car­diac ar­rest.

He was dragged from the ve­hi­cle and peo­ple worked to save his life. His friend Quinn stayed frozen in shock in the van they were in.

With the help of the lo­cal pub­li­can, a de­fib­ril­la­tor pro­vided by the fire ser­vice and a doc­tor and nurse who were flagged down from the road­side, his heart restarted.

“I went 14 min­utes with­out oxy­gen to the brain. A lot of brain dam­age was done. Not that there was much up there to dam­age. But thanks to the med­i­cal peo­ple my life was saved and I’ve been given an­other chance,” Tayler told Ra­dio Sport’s Jamie Mackay.

“Some­one has a car­diac ar­rest and ob­vi­ously the heart is a big con­cern — they got it go­ing again but with not get­ting blood to the brain I did a lot of brain dam­age that has caused me a lot of prob­lems.”

The prob­lems in­cluded mem­ory loss and neg­a­tive and sui­ci­dal thoughts, he said.

“And I can sym­pa­thise with peo­ple who have de­pres­sion . . . the brain is a pow­er­ful bit of ma­chin­ery and if some­thing goes wrong a lot of things just don’t make sense.

“It can play some aw­ful tricks and change our thoughts and feel­ings and how we look at things. And that’s what it did to me and I never thought I would be the sort of per­son who would want to get out of this world by do­ing it my­self.”

Tayler’s re­cov­ery had been chal­leng­ing, but he was fi­nally feel­ing bet­ter with the help of a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist.

“Phys­i­cally I’m in bet­ter shape than I’ve been in 10 or 15 years. Men­tally there’s a lot of work to be done, but a hell of a lot of work has been done.

“There is hope and all I say on the pos­i­tive side is there is help out there and pro­fes­sional peo­ple that can help you,” Tayler said. He urged any­one suf­fer­ing with de­pres­sion or any health is­sues to seek help.

“Life is just so much bet­ter now and I’m feel­ing so good. I can re­mem­ber ev­ery­one, now. She’s got the brain ticked in and there’s no neg­a­tives go­ing through the sys­tem. It’s good.

“I hope that I can help pro­mote some­one else. But for god’s sake if you have trou­ble ask for help. And bloody males are the worst for any­one at it.

“When they have all sorts of health prob­lems they do noth­ing about it.”

Dick Tayler says he’s in bet­ter shape than he’s been for 10 or 15 years. Above, Tayler win­ning the 10,000m in the Com­mon­wealth Games in 1974.

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