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Yvonne was content with her life and surprised to find that she needed heart bypass surgery.



Yesterday, today and tomorrow: A coronary bypass story

Yvonne’s life was so full and contented that she was oblivious to any issues with her heart. Then came the news: she needed to have a triple coronary bypass.

From one day to the next we do not know what is in front of us.

I have always been a very healthy person, with hardly a day’s sickness except for the occasional cold. That’s what my life was like.

I very much enjoyed looking after and caring for the ‘oldies’. Church meetings, gardening, crafts and activities, you name it I did it! I was a butterfly and I enjoyed every moment of where the journey of life was taking me. Of course there was always time for sleep and each day I had my ‘nanny nap’, that was important. Until one day God had other plans for me.

I had attended a clinic at Tauranga Hospital to see how I would go on the treadmill, as I wasn’t walking well and it was getting worse.

After the test I saw a cardiac specialist and he felt my heart was not the best. He said he would give me pills, a puffer and that maybe surgery would be needed.

I argued with the doctor that there were no heart problems in the family and I was quite adamant about it. I had to eat my words and apologise to the doctor at a later date.

"From one day to the next we do not know what is in front of us."

Symptoms worsen

Three months later my walking was terrible, but I still gardened and worked, thinking I was just getting a little older.

One day I said to God, “Do you want me to give up work?” But by the end of the day, I had six new clients, so I took from that I was still to carry on with what I was doing.

May 25th 2014, I woke with pain in my stomach and chest. I took some of the spray I had been given by the doctor. Initially I felt afraid to use it, but that morning I had to succumb to it. I hurried my husband to get me to the hospital. Funnily enough, his words were “Oh I must have a shower first” – my response was “Get me to the hospital!”

Tests were carried out and later in the day I was admitted to Tauranga Hospital’s Ward 2C. More tests, x-rays, scans and an angiogram.

There were the results. I needed a triple bypass as soon as possible at Waikato Hospital, so a date and surgeon were booked and I was to be taken there by ambulance as soon as possible. This was urgent. I had never been in an ambulance in my life, let alone going all the way to Hamilton...

John, my husband, sent emails all around the world, my family were praying. Another church – I heard later – were also praying. I had such a peace. I felt I was going on an adventure.

I had a visit from a chaplain at Tauranga Hospital who I knew and he gave me a picture of Jesus standing beside the surgeon in the operating theatre. To me, it said ‘I will guide the surgeon through the ordeal’. How comforting that was. Many people remarked on it.

I was transferred to Waikato Hospital on Friday 30th May and the surgery was to be on Tuesday 3rd June – Queen’s Birthday weekend. What a place to spend a holiday weekend. John came over to Hamilton the same time as the ambulance and stayed in accommodation specially provided for relatives: Hilda Ross House. I had many visitors over that weekend – family and friends, some who I hadn’t seen for some time. They all came and prayed with me.

John was with me every moment of the day from 8.30am until 8pm. It was such a comfort.

Tuesday morning, the day of my surgery, I woke at 4am, with this verse written before me:

They that wait on the Lord,

He shall renew their strength,

They shall mount up like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

What a promise that all would be well.

My eldest son, his wife and John were with me at 6.30am until I was wheeled into theatre at 7.30am.

A successful operation 

Six hours later I was with my family again. The first words I heard were from my daughter-in-law – “the operation’s all over”.

There were tubes everywhere. My right leg had an incision from the ankle to near the top of the thigh and from abdomen to neck. I was told if I had too much pain to press the little black knob which they gave me.

I used this a bit, but on the whole the pain was not a problem. I was in ICU and I can assure you it is a scary place, with monitors going off and people coming out of anaesthesia. I had a few panic attacks and a few setbacks with mal-fibrillation, where the lower bottom of the heart is not in tune with the top half of the heart. I was monitored every second of the day.

Friday came and they said I may be able to go home by Sunday if I could walk the length of the ward and shower myself. Sunday came and went, then Monday, Tuesday, and I still wasn’t able to go home. How I longed for home, for my own bed and no noise.

Wednesday finally dawned and the ward was very busy so it was either transfer back to Tauranga Hospital by ambulance or go home in the car. Of course I chose the car.

It was a dreadful day, teaming with rain, heavy fog on the Kaimais. The very next day the road was closed by a slip and a detour was put in place.

It was good to be home but not quite such a safe place in case anything went wrong. Settling down to food and medicines was not easy.

I learnt to take deep breaths and to keep calm. We had to curtail visitors as I was still too weak to cope. Phone calls were left to my nurse, John. It was lovely to know that friends and family were all concerned.

I love listening to church services on a Sunday morning on TV. On the first Sunday morning that I was home I heard the song ‘You raise me up’ – what an encouragement.

A lot of the people who sent cards wrote that they were praying for a speedy recovery. I feel I have made wonderful progress.


Shared December 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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