Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The stranger in the waiting room

I met a miraculous woman today. She was a stranger, but she has experienced a true miracle.

I arrived at Westmead Private Hospital for my Pre-Operative Clinic this morning. There was another two women there for the same clinic. We sat in a little waiting area where we would be called in to meet with a nurse for our blood pressure and medication details. After this we all had different tests depending on the surgery we were having. Of course, I got every test possible assigned to me, so I knew it world be a long day for me. I has a blood test, blood transfusion consultation, eeg, chest x-ray, ultrasound to check for blood clots, physio, and anesthetist consult.

The first woman went in to see the nurse and I was left with another lady who was sitting next to me. She seemed nervous and after a few minutes I gave her a smile and she said;

"I have no idea why I am here. I mean, of course I know I am here for surgery but I don't know what the pre-op clinic is."

I explained to her that I haven't been to this hospital before either but that I have been to a pre-op clinic before and it's usually just lots of tests to check for any conditions that may cause surgical complication or cause problems after surgery.

We got chatting - as women often do when they are put together in pretty much ANY situation. Turns out we are both from the Central Coast. She lives on a farm and breeds German Shepard's. She has four grown children, two of which live at home still. She then told me what had brought her to the hospital that day. It's a pretty amazing story!

A little while ago, she travelled to Melbourne for a dog show. Her husband and children stayed back here in NSW. While at the show, she suffered a sudden heart-attack. Completely out of the blue. Her heart then stopped beating.

Incredibly, there happened to be two different nurses also at the dog show that day with their dogs. They performed CPR on her for 48 minutes until help arrived and they were able to start her heart again.

Her husband received a call while she was on the floor at the dog show being administered CPR by one of the nurses. He was told his wife had just had a heart attack and they couldn't start her heart despite trying for over fifteen minutes. He was told he should come to Melbourne ASAP but to expect the worst. A little while later he received another call to tell him they had managed to revive her but to be prepared for anything as it was very likely she was brain damaged as brain damage occurs after 3 minutes without oxygen and her heart hadn't properly been beating for 48 minutes.

To cut a long story short - she survived and after a long stay in ICU, there was no sign of any damage to the brain. She was kept in hospital for a fair while but they couldn't find any cause for her heart attack. She ended up having a defibrillator inserted into her chest due to the seriousness of what happened to her. She is unable to drive now and said she feels like her family 'babysits' her now as they are so worried she will have another sudden heart attack.

Some time later, while having a routine Xray to check her defibrillator was still doing ok, a mass was found in her abdomen. It was 9cm long and growing fast. This is why she is here - to have to mass removed.

She commented on how she had been feeling frustrated that she has lost some of her independence despite being well now, but that her perspective has changed now. She now feels that without that heart attack and being so closely monitored as a result, the mass may not have been found. It has grown so quickly that if it does end up being something of a malignant nature, she may not have found it til much much later. Perhaps too late.

Pretty amazing huh! A sudden heart attack, no heart beat for 48 minutes, making a full recovery, then as a result finding a mass you likely wouldn't have found without such a serious event.

I would call it miraculous.

I don't even know her name, but I wish her the best and pray her miracle isn't over yet.


  1. The world is full of beautiful strangers and miracles! Thanks for reminding me Jo.

  2. Ps. I bet she's been telling her friends and family about what a lovely person you are!