Robert's Story from Shrewton

I was 66 and after putting off retirement for a couple of years, I had retired from my job as a power station engineer just 12 days previously. On the evening of 11 September 2014 I returned home to Shrewton after driving to Lincoln. Our house was being renovated and I was sweeping up downstairs when I had a big pain in my stomach. I thought it was indigestion and blamed it on the tuna and sweetcorn roll I had eaten earlier. But within a couple of minutes the pain became too much and I had to sit down. Usually my partner, Susan, would have been in our camper van on our drive preparing dinner, but by chance she was in the house.

She came downstairs, looked at me and said ‘I don’t think that’s indigestion.’ I said I needed fresh air. I tried to stand up and the next thing I know I was in a heap on the floor. Susan had tried to stop me falling down and was entangled with me. She got me into a more comfortable position and ran next door to our neighbours to phone 999. Our neighbour came back with her while his wife went to the bottom of the lane to await the ambulance.

I was feeling hot and cold and now realised this was not indigestion, but something more serious. Fairly soon a village first responder arrived and then in no time at all paramedics arrived. I was given morphine and the pain lessened. Then they said the helicopter was coming. Wiltshire Air Ambulance landed in a nearby field and I was put into the ambulance and driven to it. I was carried over the gate, which had barbed wire over the top, into the field and loaded into the helicopter.

In the helicopter I remember seeing the stars and talking to Steve, the paramedic. It took 20 minutes to fly to Southampton General Hospital and I was taken straight to the cardiac ward. I had suffered a heart attack called a STEMI. I had two stents put into my inferior artery and during the procedure my heart stopped beating briefly and the doctors and nurses did CPR on me and used a defibrillator to get it re-started.

After 10 to 15 minutes I was back on the cardiac ward recovering. I was discharged back home three days later to continue my recovery. About three to four weeks later I was wondering why my right leg didn’t seem to want to walk as far as my left leg. After a week or so it got worse and I couldn’t walk more than five or ten yards. I saw my GP who sent me to Salisbury District Hospital where it was found that I had very little blood flow to my right leg due to a blockage in my iliac artery, caused by a complication when the stents were being fitted to my heart, which I was told was unusual. The doctors put a stent into my iliac artery and I spent a week in intensive care. After returning home I went to cardiac rehab sessions at Salisbury District Hospital.

I had been married previously and I couldn’t see me doing marriage again, but after recovering from the heart attack I thought it was a completely new start in a way and so on Susan’s birthday, in January, I asked her if she would marry me. She said yes! We got married on 11th July 2015 in St Mary’s Church, Shrewton. It was an absolutely fantastic day and we asked our guests to give donations to Wiltshire Air Ambulance instead of gifts to us.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is fantastic. Without it getting me to Southampton quickly I could have suffered heart failure and my recovery might not have been as good as it was, assuming I had survived. When I visited the helicopter’s base in Devizes I got to thank Steve, the paramedic, and shake his hand. The extra kit on the helicopter, funded by the charity, is excellent. I’m very active and I’m now doing pretty much what I did before my heart attack. Susan and I are keen bakers and we will be holding regular fundraising coffee and cake mornings for WAA to do our bit to help it continue to save lives.