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From sudden collapse to steady recovery

Aged 82 at the time of his heart attack, medical staff weren’t sure if Victor could cope with open heart surgery. He’s grateful for the care they took.

It was October 2011. Victor had been working in the garden when he came inside to sit down. When he got up again to walk to the bathroom he only took 10 or 15 steps before collapsing in the doorway.

“The next thing I knew, Val (my wife) was standing over me with a phone in her hand calling an ambulance.

“The ambulance took a while to get there but in the meantime a friend arrived and she got onto the medical centre which is just across the road from where we live, only 100m away.”

It took the ambulance 25 minutes to get from Thames to Victor’s home in Ngatea. Coincidentally both the ambulance and the doctor arrived at the same time.

The ambulance was going to take Victor to Thames Hospital, but the doctor wanted him taken straight to Waikato Hospital.

“By this time I was conscious again and wasn’t feeling too bad,” says Victor.

Surgery and recovery

Victor had had a heart attack.

It was only a year earlier that Victor had been in Waikato Hospital with an aneurysm, which he says was “no trouble at all”. But with the heart attack, he ended up staying in hospital for nearly three weeks while doctors deliberated over operating.

“They weren’t sure whether I was up to it and age was a bit of a concern because I was 82 then,” he says.

He did have the operation – “being a non-smoker all my life possibly helped the decision to eventually operate,” he says. Surgery involved a new aortic valve and a double bypass.

Recovery took a while. He was only able to walk about 100 metres after the surgery. But soon he was walking five to six kilometres a day with steady progress over time... 

Victor is grateful to have had his family by his side through his hospital stay and recovery, and has only praise for the medical staff who, he says, “were great, really great”.

“I have no complaints whatsoever, even about the food. A lot of people complain about the food but I thought it was alright.”

Since his bypass, Victor’s stuck to his diet of meat and three veg and kept his weight at around 70 kilograms.

He and his wife also moved to Auckland, where he is walking less but is also driving less, opting to take the bus or the ferry instead.

“I can do my bits around the place now. I don’t push myself of course, I don’t work like when I was 17,” says Victor who is now 87.

His only stints in hospital in the past six years have been for his gallbladder which he had to have removed.

But so far as his heart goes, it’s all good news. “I was on medication initially for the heart but I don’t take anything now.”


Shared November 2016

Please note: the views and opinions of the storyteller and related comments may not necessarily reflect those of the Heart Foundation NZ.

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