‘A simple visit to my GP landed me in hospital for major surgery hours later’

Dec 25, 2021
Paul reveals that silent killer that almost took his life. Source: Getty

I have just read an article on this website titled, ‘The little-known heart condition becoming one of Australia’s biggest silent killers’.

This is the best article produced by SAS for a long time, in my opinion, and is must read, particularly for those with a bit of age behind them. I thought I would detail my own experience with this silent killer, known as aortic stenosis, and hopefully encourage others to put their health first.

I had open heart surgery for the replacement of the aortic valve 15 years ago. I will not discuss the symptoms as your GP is best to explain, but I will talk about the operation.

First, it had to be done, there was no alternative other than to die, therefore the decision was made easy. I was in Queensland at the time and the procedure was carried out at the Prince Charles Hospital, a brilliant establishment. I was lucky to be in Queensland as the efficiency of their medical system regarding this type of procedure is second to none and the after-care is unmatched. I have a lot to be thankful for, particularly as they found out I required a triple bypass at the same time.

I was in hospital for only five days and felt fantastic after having the operation. I cannot describe the difference it has made, not to mention a few more years of life. I recall I was told not to do much for two weeks, but I had a need to prove to myself that all was okay and I went for a 2.5 kilometre walk on my own, slowly – that was a very private time. At the end, I sat in a coffee lounge with a cup of coffee and my wife came and picked me up and gave me a suitable telling off. I do not recommend this kind of flagrant disregard for your doctor’s orders to other people, but I knew I was back and okay.

People tend to worry about these procedures but my message is if you require such an operation do not worry about it, for it is the best thing you can do for yourself. Let your family do the worrying for you and you concentrate on the operation with a positive outlook. I would recommend this surgery to anybody who’s told to get it done. You will not regret it.

Over the past 15 years there have been major developments in how the procedure is completed. I have a proud scar down the length of my chest and an artificial value that can be heard by others occasionally, but not by me. Now days, if suitable, the procedure can be done by keyhole surgery but I have grown to like my scar. It is a reminder that sometimes we have to stop for a while. It has also put a different perspective on life; money becomes unimportant, there are many more motivating reasons to be around.

So all you pensioners out there with symptoms – such as shortness of breath, dizziness or tiredness, chest pain and palpitations – and with a life being held back by those symptoms, go see your GP as soon as you can. I recall I had just completed the sale of a business on a Friday morning and saw the GP a couple of hours later as I had a niggling ache in the chest that I had no answer for. That was the start and within 24 hours my future was known. If I had left it longer, I wouldn’t be typing this today.

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