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Health scare prompts important conversations

Health scare prompts important conversations

Allan is an average kind of bloke – loves cars, being at the beach and fishing most of all. In November he did something a lot of men his age do. He had a heart attack.

There was no dramatic clutching of the chest or gasping for breath, it was pretty low key says Allan, just a burning sensation in his chest, a dry throat and a painful jaw over a few days.

At first the 58-year-old thought he had an infection and went to his GP. Soon afterwards he was on his way to Tauranga Hospital in an ambulance but, after arriving, began feeling better.

“I felt like a bit of a fraud for taking up a bed in a busy hospital,” says Allan. “I thought I should go home. But blood tests were showing I’d had a heart attack and was exactly where I needed to be.”

Allan admits he was scared and nervous, worrying about what this meant long-term. It focussed him on having some much-needed conversations.

“My worry was had I had enough conversations with my wife about what’s important? Had I said enough things so that life would go on for others if I wasn’t there?”

Allan recalls his experience as Advance Care Planning Day, on Thursday 5 April, approaches. The day, previously known as Conversations that Count Day, is a day to encourage people to think about, talk about, and plan for their future and end-of-life care.

Allan said speaking to his wife about what he wanted if things went horribly wrong was liberating.

“It was actually a relief to talk about those things. To stop that internal monologue about what’s going on by being able to talk to somebody about your fears and concerns. I think it was quite therapeutic. It’s important to talk to people you love about what matters to you.

“It’s good to have that conversation about what you would like ahead of time. It’s not just for you - it’s for the peace of mind of the people you love.”

And now, Allan is back fishing and being at the beach. He says men his age shouldn’t wait for a heart attack to talk about what’s important to them with their whānau – “get off your backside and do it now!” He’s in the process of writing his own Future Care Plan.

For more information about Future (Advance) Care Planning, talk to your GP or Practice Nurse, go to www.advancecareplanning.org.nz

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