Life after bypass surgery
Mofini's story of heart bypass surgery is available in Tongan and English. Taking six months off work to recover from the surgery came with a large degree of financial stress.
Hala ha misi ‘e taha ‘a e tangata’eiki faihiva ni, ‘i he ‘ene tu’uta mai ki Nu’usila mei Tonga he ta’u 1996, ‘oku ‘i ai ha palopalema ki hono mafu.
‘I he ta’u 2001 na’a ne fuofua ongo’i ai ‘a e mamahi hono fatafata lolotonga ia ‘ene ngāue ‘i ha falengāue moa na’e ngāue ai. ‘I he ‘aho hokó na’e toe uhuuhu ange ai e langá ‘o iku leleaki’i ia ‘i he ‘emipuleni ki he Supa Kilīniki ‘i Manukau, ‘o fakahā ange ki ai ‘oku ‘i he tu’unga fakatu’utāmaki ‘a hono mafu.
Talu mei ai ‘a e toutou ‘alu ‘a Mōfini ke fai hono sivi tu’o tolu he māhina kotoa, ‘o kau ai e hulu’i e tafe ‘a e toto he kālava hono mafu. Neongo na’a ne ‘ilo ‘e malava ke tu’u fakafokifā e tā hono mafu pe pākalava, ne ‘ikai pe ke ne mapule’i ‘e ia ‘ene kai.
‘I he 2015, ne pau ai ke tafa mafu paipaasi ‘a Mōfini. “Ko e ‘uhinga ia ne tafa ai aú koe’uhi ko ‘eku kai noa’ia mo ‘ikai keu tauhi lelei mei he 2005 ki he 2015. Ko e tefito’i palopalemá ko e ‘ikai ke ‘ai mo fakamalohisino pe ki’i ueue’i e sino. Ne ‘eke mai he taha e kau toketā pe ‘oku ou ifi tapaka pea u talaange ‘ikai. Na’a ne pehee ‘oku ou monu’ia koe’uhi na’a ne fakatokanga’i pe ‘i he lipooti, he kapau ne u ifi kuo fuoloa ‘eku mate. Ko e tu’unga kovi neu ‘i ai ‘o uesia ai hoku mafu”.
Hili e tafa – me’a faingata’a ko e fakaakeake
I he māhina ‘e ono na’e fakaakeake ai, ne lahilahi e fakamalohisino ‘a Mōfini mo ueue’i hono sino. “Na’e lahilahi ‘eku luelue mo e heka pasikalá he na’e ‘ikai keu ngāue he taimi ko ia. Na’e pau keu nofo ‘o fakaakeake he māhina ‘e ono kimu’a pea u toe foki ki he ngāue”, ko ‘ene lau ia.
Toe tamele’akí ‘a e fokotu’una ko ia e ‘otu mo’ua. Ko e ma’u’anga pa’anga pe ki he famili ko e ngāue ‘a hono uaifi pea kamata ke ongo’i ‘e Mōfini ‘a e mafatukituki e fu’u lahi e mo’ua. Ne matu’aki ongo foki ‘a e feinga ke tulituli hono totongi e ako ‘a e fānau kae pehē ki he ngaahi fiema’u fakaako tautefito ‘a hono foha na’e lolotonga ako lao ‘i he ‘univesiti.
“Ko hono mo’oni ko e taimi faingata’a fakapa’anga eni, pea neu fa’a vili ki he‘eku toketaá ke fakato’oto’o kae faka’ataa au kau foki ki he ngāue ke totongi atu ha ‘otu mo’ua”.
Hili ha māhina ‘e 6 na’a ne faka‘atā leva ke u ngāue fakataimi pe, ‘o ki’i tokoni ia ke holoholo atu ai e mafasia.
‘I he ngaahi ‘aho ní ‘oku mahino ange ka Mōfini ‘a e fiema’u ke tauhi lelei ma’u pe. Tānaki ki ai mo ‘ene talangofua ki hono hoa, ne kamata ke fakasi’isi’i atu mo e kai me’amelie mo e me’akonokona. “Kou talaange ki hoku hoa, fēfē ke ta kamata’aki ia? ‘Ai’ai tahataha pe”.
Ko e founga leva ia ki he hoko atu, ke ne ‘ilo ‘a e me’akai ‘oku tonu mo taau ke ne kai pea liliu mamalie ai ki ha tukunga ‘oku sia’a ange. ‘O ‘ikai ko ‘ene fai pehē ma’ana pe, ka ‘e toe lelei foki ki he fānau.
Mofini shares his story of heart disease in Tongan
Mofini, a father of three and a church choir conductor, first arrived in New Zealand from Tonga in 1996, unaware of any problems with his heart.
It was 2001 when he first felt a pain in his chest during one of his shifts at the chicken factory. The next day it was more severe and after being taken by ambulance to the Manukau Super Clinic, he was told he had issues with his heart.
“They told me I’m very, very lucky that I didn’t have a stroke or heart attack. I was lucky – I think it was a warning signal,” he says.
From then on, Mofini continued with three-monthly check-ups, including an angiogram to check his heart. But though he knew he was at risk of heart attack or stroke, he couldn’t bring himself to manage his diet.
“To be honest, I wasn’t looking after myself or my health. After my angiogram, I couldn’t control myself, especially in eating and doing exercises.” Mofini was also stressed about household finances as he was the only one bringing in an income while his wife brought up their three children – so controlling his weight wasn’t really his priority.
By 2015, Mofini needed bypass surgery. He weighed 134 kilograms and had let his health slide.
“The reason I ended up under the knife was because of my eating and how I looked after myself between 2005 and 2015. The main problem was not doing enough exercise.
“One of the doctors asked me if I was smoking and I said no. He said I was lucky because he saw the report and said if I was smoking I’d be dead already. It was so severe my heart damage.”
Post-surgery – a stressful recovery
After his surgery, Mofini did lose weight, but he believes a lot of that was stress-induced. “I was doing a lot of walking and I had a pushbike because at that time I wasn’t working. I had to recover for six months before I could return to work,” he says. But on the downside, the bills were piling up. This time, his wife was the only one bringing in an income, and Mofini began feeling as stressed as he did before his angiogram all those years earlier.
“During this time we struggled financially, and to be honest, I was pushing my doctor to clear me so I could return to work and pay my bills.”
Keeping up with the children’s education fees, including his son’s law school university fees, was particularly important to Mofini’s family.
“My wife was the only one working, and eventually our phone was cut off and our power was cut off.”
Mofini sought help from WINZ, but they said because his wife was working full-time that they couldn’t help him.
“I was feeling stressed – so after two months I was down to 109 kg,” he says.
Things started to look up, when after six months, he was cleared to start part-time work again. So he went back to his previous job as a bus driver – a job he likes and one he does well and – another benefit – it’s stress-free, he says.
Less stress, more kilos
“Once my wife and I were both working again, and I could pay my bills, the stress was lifted. But as soon as the stress stopped, my kilos started going up,” says Mofini.
“After the operation, for a month or two my appetite was really poor. I hardly needed to eat anything. After a while my appetite started coming back – not slowly, but aggressively.”
Mofini’s weight is back up to where it was before surgery and he is worried about it. He’s more aware now of the need to look after himself, and at the insistence of his wife who keeps talking to him about ‘lifestyle’ – a term that makes him chuckle – he has started to cut down on sugar and salt. “I said to my wife, how about we start with that one? Do it bit by bit.”
And that’s his plan, going forward, to educate himself more on nutrition and make gradual changes towards better health. Something he wants to do not only for himself, but for the sake of his children.
Shared June 2017