Janet 's Story

My friends commonly refer to the scar on my back as “the sharkbite” (and have, in fact, been known to put notices on my back pointing this out). But for me, it is more like a rite of passage. It marks, mentally, the point between youth and something else. Maybe maturity. Maybe not!

It's more than a year since I went into a private hospital for a laparoscopic repair to my hiatus hernia. Two days after surgery, they thought I had a touch of pneumonia.

The diagnosis was somewhat different the following day when my vital signs crashed, my left lung collapsed and my right started to follow suit. The surgeon had nicked my thoracic duct and my chest cavity was filling up with lymph fluid, crushing my lungs.

There was a mad rush to Manly Hospital, where life, for me, came very close to ending. I wish I had some recollection of this near-death experience, as it seems so significant. But it, and many days in intensive care, are largely lost to me. There was another week in Manly ICU, where I learned the meaning of true hard work by watching the staff there. Then I found myself flat on my back in an ambulance, looking up at the lights of the Harbour Bridge on my way to RPA for major surgery to reinflate my left lung. Twenty-two staples later, I was finally on the road to recovery.

So here I am, somewhat scarred and somewhat wiser. I take full responsibility for my choice of surgery. But I now also demand specialists who communicate effectively.

And I will never forget the one thing I can remember during those near-death days – my husband telling me how much he loves me.