Suddenly, there were doctors and nurses surrounding me. I could see worry and fear etched on their faces. Yet, they weren’t telling me anything – so I grew scared myself. As this hustle and bustle continued, I remained in the dark and my fear multiplied.
Finally, a doctor told me that I was to be airlifted to the Townsville Base Hospital. Fear strengthened its grip on my heart, and I turned away believing this was the end.
Little did I know that in the future I would wish it had been the end. Not all the time. But there have been many occasions since where I wished I had died that day. To be frank, there still are. Sometimes I think I have lost so much since then that it would have been better to go out on a high than to live with what I have left.
But at the time, death was still something I feared. And before I knew it, I saw paramedics beside me with their trusty stretcher. They were there to take me to the airport. Once there, I was craned into the Royal Flying Doctor aircraft. The crane was actually part of the plane itself. In hindsight, it was quite an amazing contraption. Yet then and there, I had other things on my mind.
Strangely, it was no longer death that I feared but the flight ahead. Actually, I was scared of dying – very scared, it was just that I now saw my life ending a different way. I’ve never been a good flyer and this aircraft was very small.
The flight seemed to take forever. The machine monitoring my heart made an unusual beep, and my mind panicked. The engine made a strange sound (at least strange to me) and I panicked even more. And this went on repeatedly.
Eventually we landed. I don’t remember getting out of the plane or any of the ambulance’s trip to the hospital. I do remember being rushed into a theatre. There I lay while numerous people were busily moving around, their faces covered in masks. It was after hours and the heart consultants were on-call. Finally, someone walked in. It wasn’t the consultant they were expecting but he brusquely took charge.
It was at this point someone told me he was going to put stents in wherever the remaining blockages were. He fed a camera through my arteries towards my heart. I could still feel the intense pain in my back, but I could not feel the tube he was moving inside me.
Then, all of a sudden, I felt no pain at all. I recall people calling out pain-free, pain-free, in a celebratory tone. I felt well. People seemed happy And I thought it was over.
I was wrong, very wrong.
People went from happy – to panicked – to serious – to focused in the blink of an eye. The consultant was calling out commands. It seemed like people were arguing. And then everything went black.