On March 2nd, Alistair was at his office washing his lunch dishes, when he collapsed, sustained a head injury and was unconscious.
He was rushed to Monash Heart at Monash Medical Centre, Clayton where he regained consciousness, and learnt that he had experienced a cardiac event and had also sustained multiple injuries when he collapsed leading to a bleed on the brain, a black eye and a cracked rib.
Whilst nobody wishes to be in hospital at anytime, Alistair’s misfortune afforded him the history making title, becoming the first patient to be admitted to Monash Health’s newly opened Victorian heart Hospital (VHH).
“I was starting to feel better, so was curious to see the inside of this fantastic looking building that I’d driven past so many times!” said Alistair.
Under the watchful supervision of VHH nurse, Heidi, Alistair made the short journey over to the brand-new facility and was taken to his room overlooking the Monash University sporting grounds.
“It’s true what they say about natural light and lovely surrounds having such a positive impact on your mental and emotional health,” he said.
“The rooms are incredibly spacious and well thought out, and I loved the view over the sporting grounds”
After spending two nights at VHH, Alistair was given the all clear to head home, however his recovery hasn’t been as straightforward on this occasion, due to his severe head injury and ongoing vertigo.
While Alistair didn’t necessarily want the honour of being the first patient admitted to VHH, he is excited to see such an important facility open in Victoria to service the needs of people needing world-class cardiac care.
“We’re truly privileged to not only have a dedicated heart hospital, but to know that patients admitted will be in the care of some of Australia’s most experienced cardiac doctors and nurses,” said Alistair.
“I’d like to thank the cardiologists, nurses and staff at VHH for making my stay as pleasant as possible, and for assisting me with my ongoing recovery. I urge anyone who is able to donate to the Monash Cardiac Care appeal to consider doing so.”
above: Alistair and his wife, Melinda.
Alistair is quite the expert when it comes to being able to talk about cardiac care in Victoria, having experienced care from many hospitals on his journey.
After losing his father to a heart attack at just 47 years old, Alistair was acutely aware of the importance of good heart health and aware that he could also experience heart issues.
However, nothing could have prepared him for his first attack at aged 41
“It was 2001, I was playing tennis with my brother and next thing I was rushed to hospital. It was the beginning of my ongoing journey as a cardiac patient,” said Alistair.
Just a few years later in 2009, Alistair was warming up for another game of tennis when he knew something wasn’t right. He was again rushed to hospital having suffered his second heart attack.
Alistair was determined to do all he could to prevent future heart troubles and put in the required effort and discipline to refine his diet and exercise regularly. He was doing all the right things.
At aged 60, Alistair suffered his third heart attack – this one was different. Alistair went into cardiac arrest.
His wife, Melinda, recognised the signs and sprang into action, performing CPR on him while they waited for the ambulance to arrive.
“Fortunately, Melinda is a teacher and had undergone first aid refresher training only a few weeks prior, so she knew exactly what to do,” said Alistair. “Melinda saved my life”.
The paramedics arrived to find Melinda working tirelessly to keep her husband alive. They took over, performing chest compressions and using a defibrillator on him. They somehow managed to bring Alistair back.
“The paramedics estimated I’d been ‘dead’ for one and a half hours. We are all convinced that Melinda’s determination to continue CPR is what led to the paramedics bringing me back via the defibrillator,” he explained.
Once admitted to hospital, Alistair was placed into an induced coma to help his body heal.
When he woke, he was advised that a combination pacemaker and defibrillation device would be inserted into his heart to prevent future cardiac arrest.
Recovery was slow, and the anxiety around the unpredictability of these cardiac events was something Alistair and his family had to navigate, but they were equally as anxious to ‘get on with things.’
2023 has not quite gone to plan for Alistair and his family.
On January 26th this year, Alistair and Melinda were at their holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula.
“I was getting ready for bed and felt a little off – a bit dizzy when I stood up,” said Alistair.
“I sat back down and had what I thought was a little nap – but as I came to learn later, I had actually passed out due to my heartrate rising to between 200-300 beats per minute– I’d had another cardiac event.”
Fortunately, Alistair was saved by his internal defibrillator, however he was increasingly anxious due to having seen his cardiac specialist not even a week earlier, and essentially being given the thumbs up.
“It goes to show how unpredictable heart attacks can be,” he said.
If you would like to donate to the Monash Cardiac Care Tax Appeal, please click on the button below: