On Sunday 29th December we got word that the elder of my extended family had been taken by ambulance to hospital with a very low heart rate. A healthy heart usually beats at least 60 beats per minute at rest.
His had plummeted to below 30 and he was feeling most unwell.
We live 4 hours’ drive away from his home in Hawkes Bay so it was with great relief that we learnt that the medical folk had stabilised him and his heart beats were looking more normal again very quickly. He was discharged after further tests and monitoring had been done and his medication altered.
However a few days later a slow heart beat episode began again and this time, while he finally became more stable it was deemed necessary that he remain in hospital. It was time for us to pack our bags and head along a very familiar route to Hawkes Bay.
We found him in a reasonable condition, resting comfortably with a lot of monitoring machinery and nursing care surrounding him. The Cardiologist had decided, while we were on the road, that a pace-maker would be the best treatment but inserting a pace-maker is only done in tertiary level hospitals in New Zealand. Wellington is the closest one to Hawkes Bay.
The application to Wellington was accepted but no date had been given with that news. Time and hearts ticked along until late on Monday afternoon when news arrived that he would travel by fixed wing air ambulance to Wellington the next morning. A cardiac nurse would travel with him.
Our return to Wellington on Tuesday tracked to the hospital which is reasonably familiar to us and into the Cardiac ward to find our elder looking far more like his old self. The procedure had not been straight forward and much lengthier than the norm so we had had some skipped heart beats as text messages kept us informed of his progress along our journey.
The skills and abilities of the pace maker team and the kind care and attention of his cardiac nurse we met on Tuesday night are gratefully acknowledged. He was transferred back to HB Hospital in the air ambulance on Wednesday morning feeling a lot more like his old self.
He is now back at home adjusting to the restrictions of one arm out of use for some weeks, no car driving at least in the short term and extra personal help but with digital technology now regulating his heart.
For now all our hearts are beating a little more calmly and we hope this will continue for a good long time to come.