These two women mean a lot to me. On the left is my sister Leslie and on the right is my sister-in-law Ally who, I would say, without any risk of exaggeration is the luckiest person on the planet at the moment. Last week Ally suffered a heart attack which led to cardiac arrest. How does that make her the luckiest woman on the planet? The fact that she is still on this earth to tell the tale is probably the best illustration of her luck but this tale has far more twists and turns than a dodgy politician being questioned by an aggressive reporter.
It was after work on a Tuesday and Leslie and Ally were stacking the wood they’d had delivered for the winter. Ally said that she was not feeling good and sat on the deck to take a breather while Leslie continued on to offload the wood she was carrying. By the time Leslie had put the wood away and returned Ally was unconscious. Leslie began performing CPR which she had learned as part of her job just a short time ago.
While Leslie was performing CPR she struggled with the realisation that she needed to call an ambulance. With her phone inside out of reach what should she do? Just as this thought took hold the next door neighbour appeared in her backyard to chop some wood for the night. I don’t think Leslie was too bothered about observing social niceties when she yelled at the woman to get her ‘ass’ over the fence and call an ambulance.
By the time the ambulance arrived Leslie had performed CPR for ten minutes, it had exhausted her but adrenaline kicked in and did its thing. While the ambulance officers worked on Ally, Leslie busied herself getting their boxer Morgan under control.
The officers shocked Ally, twice, before she re-joined us here on earth and was transported to the Greymouth hospital.
Her good fortune continued when she arrived at the hospital. One of the countries top cardiologists was visiting and it was him who attended to Ally. He decided that they would wait out the night and if she was strong enough to be transported the next day she would be flown to Christchurch hospital where she could get the care she needed. As it happened that didn’t happen until a day later but Ally’s stats continued to improve over this time.
While Ally was being flown to hospital Leslie was taking the much longer route via road. By the time she arrived at the hospital Ally had already undergone an Angiogram and had a stent put in to keep the offending piece of artery open. That was on the Thursday. By Saturday Ally was allowed out of hospital.
I am not overly fond of the overused word surreal but that is exactly how it seemed. On Tuesday Ally was holding on to life by a very tenuous thread and by Saturday her prognosis had done a complete reversal and was, in fact, much improved. The only outwardly visible sign of what she had been through was a tiny wound on her wrist where the wire for the Angiogram was inserted and the bruises on her chest where she had received the CPR.
For the next six weeks while the damaged part of her heart heals Ally will need to take it easy, but the future looks bright.
Statistics say that only 9-10% of those that have a cardiac arrest in Australia survive, generally because there was someone nearby to perform CPR. Most of those cases would be in-hospital resuscitation. The statistics are much lower for those who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital.
We are very much looking forward to our annual holiday with Ally and Leslie so that we can take the time to celebrate and appreciate two wonderful women. One a valued and loved survivor and the other, my hero.