Hi there!My name is Ward Hayward, and I survived an open heart double bypass operation, with a vascular accident (Major stroke), on the side just to make things interesting. This happened November 16, 2006, so I have been recovering for 6 years now.As the headline says, I’m Lucky To Be Here!
Anyway, I was in the hospital for three months; two months at the Ottawa Heart Institute, and 3 weeks at St Vincent’s long term care facility. I was in an induced coma for the first month.
How did I survive this life changing event? one word. Prayer! My wife Claire ( we have been together 20 years) was at my bedside every single day, praying for me. My parents and brother came almost as often, as did my close friends. They all prayed for a miracle, and to be honest I guess that’s what it was. The first day, when the doctor came out, he told Claire, and my brother Gord, that I had a 10% chance of living through the night.They even had a priest brought in and gave me my last rites…
The next three months were a complete nightmare. My chest was open for two weeks, due to infections. There were 21 lines attached to my body. All that I can remember is the dreams.Long dreams…. I can’t really say I enjoyed them, but having nothing else to do, and I mean nothing, I made the most of them. Strange situations, long conversations, they got stranger and more bizarre as time went by.
It turns out that while I was completely lost in my own strange world, my real body was so energetic that I had to be restrained at all times. This was reflected in my dreams. I was always tied to my bed, so I was always trying to get out of it. So I ended up in weird day long dreams of me trying desperately to get free, having imaginary conversations with my nurses.
Once I regained consciousness, things just got worse. I was fed intravenously, so no eating, no water. I pulled my feeding tube out 28 times. Now I started dreaming about water, begging anyone who came close, in sign language,for water. These were the most crazy dreams. Good times!
As I said at the start, my girlfriend of 20 years, Claire, was at my side every day that I was in the hospital. She was there at least 8 hours a day, every day, squeezing my hand, saying prayers. The doctors said I had little hope at first, but she would get angry and tell them no one knew when god decided to take someone, and kept praying. By the way, she kept a diary of every thing that happened, which I will share with you a little later. My parents also wrote many emails, detailing my progress, or lack thereof. These still make me very emotional when I read them, and I will share them as well.
So, that is some insight to my story. But the story began months before I landed in the hospital. My operation was on November 16,2006. My first heart attack was on July 3, however. I was 42 years old,, and we had just spent Canada Day weekend on the Byward market. We decided to take it easy on Monday, and I remember having tomato soup with rigatoni and cheese for lunch. The next thing I knew,I had a massive headache. I started sweating badly, and began vomiting over and over. My girlfriend freaked and I called my best friend, Eugene, and told him I was in real trouble. He made it from Orleans to Vanier in less than 20 minutes and we were in emergency in 10. I thought it was food poisoning at first. Remember, I was 42 years old. No 42 year old has a heart attack , right? Wrong… The hospital just happened to have a young doctor on staff who was on loan from Quebec City. He informed I was having a major heart attack right that minute!
It was decided that I would have an angioplasty done, which is pretty common nowadays, but when they started the doctors discovered that my arteries were comletely blocked, and decided I needed more tests done. Of course the hospital was full, so We had to wait . For a week ! I had discovered by now that hospitals suck. I was informed that I would need open heart surgery but would have to wait. The hospital sent me home and put me on warfarin (rat poison), which is a blood thinner given to heart patients all the time. So, I waited. and waited. For 3 months.
On the night of november 15 I went to bed with a sore stomach. The cramps just got worse and worse. Finally, at 4 am I had enough and called 911. In hindsight that was my big mistake! Turns out you have to be off warfarin for at least a week before major surgery. Major faux pas. As in bad idea…the doctors later apologized. Okay, enough for now. Stay tuned for chapter two, I will show you Claire’s diary, and my parents’ emails.