A check-up in time

Mallala plant operator Robert Angus had no idea he was a dead man walking around with chronic heart disease until he made a snap decision to visit the doctor on his day off.

It was the Monday before the Australia Day holiday in January and he had been a tad too puffed walking over the weekend – a brisk walk along the Port Broughton jetty on Saturday and on the Sunday during a stroll down Semaphore Road.

“I was quite short of breath and alarmed enough to think I had better check this out, said Robert, who is  57.

His GP organised for him to have an EEG at Bensons in Gawler, which was unremarkable and Robert resumed his daily life for a few days until the GP telephoned telling him to return for a stress test with a cardiologist.

“He said he needed to search more for the reason for shortness of breath.  I only lasted at the most two minutes when he pulled me off and packed me off for an angiogram,’’ recalls Robert.

He was booked in for his test at the Wakefield Hospital and was told if they found anything they would insert a stent in which case he would remain in hospital overnight.  “But I was awake and they didn’t do anything, so when they said I would be admitted I asked “Why, you didn’t do anything?’’ 

“They said the cardiologist would visit me the next morning.’’

 “The surgeon came and said I needed heart surgery and I said I had better be well enough to attend the Clipsal 500.

“Next thing the cardiologist arrives and reckons I’m not taking this thing seriously enough and that I needed a triple bypass. Your heart is in a very bad way and you could have a fatal heart attack any minute’’.

“I reckon if I was going to have one it was right then I was so shocked.

“Three of the arteries  to my heart were totally blocked and the other two were blocked 80 per cent and 70 per cent respectively,’’ he said

“I shudder thinking that I hiked for two days in the Dolomite Mountains and my arms ached terribly and then across the shoulders, but everyone said if it’s your heart,  it’s only your left arm that aches. Wrong!

 “I am only here because I had a day off work before Australia Day and went to the doc to be checked out. I reckon I saved my own life.

“Two of my uncles dropped dead before they were 50 and my grandfathers both died of strokes when I was very young, so I’m lucky to be here.’’

He has told us his story over breakfast at the Cook-O-Burra café in Burra and his post-op lifestyle has dramatically changed also. He cut all the fat off his bacon, saying “I don’t  do fat of any kind anymore or salts.’’

Meanwhile, his mate Bryan Harrison said he was “shit-scared’’ when he heard Robert’s story and went to the doctor for a checkup. “I’m fine, but I’ll keep having regular checks,’’ he said.

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2 Comments to “A check-up in time”

  1. By Marie Jonsson-Harrison, 03/07/2010 @ 6:35 pm

    Great stuff Nadine, timely reminder for all your readers and I also feel you captured the conversation just as it happened. The sign of a very good journalist to tell the story how it really was!! Keep up the good work. Love Marie xx

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