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He was breathless while running and needed two surgeries to improve his heart health



Two major surgeries in one month

Bill was running out of puff so he decided to see a doctor. It turns out that heart trouble wasn’t his only worry. This is how he received the news, in his words, as told to the Heart Foundation in an interview.

"I’ll start by saying that I have never been the most athletic type of person. But in early June last year (2015) I was out walking in Rarotonga and I was running out of puff. I had only done about 100 metres and this was on a level path.

"As soon as I got back to Auckland I went to see my GP and he set me up for an exercise ECG (or stress test) at the local hospital. After about a week or so, I still hadn’t received an appointment so I thought ‘this is no good, all a bit slow’, so I went back to my doctor. I asked for a name of someone at the Auckland Heart Group, as I have Southern Cross health Insurance, and thought I should use it for this.

"So off I went to Auckland Heart Group and they did the exercise ECG. They were very good through all of this. The professor I saw said I definitely needed something, so they suggested I have an angiogram.

"So I went in for an angiogram, but while I was waiting to have this procedure, one of the doctors said, ‘I don’t think we can do this angiogram today as you are too anaemic.' But he agreed that the angiogram needed to be done, so it was, and it showed that I was beyond stents and I needed bypass surgery.

"I have only good things to say about the people who tended to me at the Auckland Heart Group. With regards to the anaemia, they referred me to a gastric consultant. I saw him and had some checks and it ended up that I needed bowel surgery..."

"However, getting back to the heart business, it was a matter of which to do first, the surgery for the heart or the surgery for the bowel?

"It was decided that they would do the heart surgery first and that was done at Mercy hospital in Auckland. Within a month after a quadruple bypass I was considered well enough healed to undertake the bowel surgery, as my recovery was considered really good.

"Likewise the recovery from the bowel surgery – a right hemicolectomy – was also considered really good. I was well-briefed as to what I needed to do when I went home – all the people caring for me were very thorough about making sure I knew what I should be doing.

"I just want to throw in a comment here. Through my partner, I got in touch with a lady who does acupuncture. I saw her once before the heart surgery and she said she would get me ready for the surgery. I only had one session with her prior to the surgery but have been back to her since.

"I suppose it’s one of those alternative medicines you either believe in or not – but I certainly believe it helped me get through my recovery and now I go regularly as part of keeping well. I definitely feel better after a session with acupuncture. 

"I have had no trouble since, after either of the surgeries. I try to stay fit, and can walk up hills and down dales as much as I like without problems – I feel like a completely different person."


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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