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I learnt many years ago to only worry about the things I can control. And it was my occasionally weird sense of humour that got me to that way of thinking. Let me explain.

I used to live in an inner suburb of Melbourne called Yarraville. I was a few minutes stroll to the train station and I would, on occasion, catch the train to work in the City.

Like many people, I would catch the train during peak times, so there would be plenty of people waiting around.

Sometimes, whilst waiting for the train, there’d be a loud speaker announcement “the 8:03am train to Flinders Street has been delayed by 10 minutes”. And you would hear a collective moan or sigh, the click of the tongue with a short, forced breath outward after that. It was a guaranteed, collective response and I could see people becoming physically and verbally frustrated by a train being late. And I would think “why get angry, you can’t control or change this?” and for me, the action and the reaction didn’t connect and it would make me a bit smiley!

Last year I went to St Vincents Hospital pretty confident that I had endocarditis again. It was the 23rd of August. I spent 4 weeks on IV antibiotics because the Doctors were confident they could kill the bug that way and my heart didn’t appear to be affected.

Fast forward to the 24th of September, and I was visited by two cardiologists. They explained to me that they had discovered that my heart was in pretty bad shape and they would be going in for heart surgery number 5 the following morning. I don’t really recall what I said to them, but I distinctly recall one of them saying as they left the room “well that was easier than I thought it was going to be”.

Having spent enough time in St Vincents Hospital, I’ve seen plenty of people sent to one of the corner rooms where they are given the entire, large room to themselves. The staff probably didn’t know that I knew it’s the room they give people when there is nothing else they can do for them. The room where people go to die.

I was put in that room.

I’d called my partner and my Mum and they had arrived. It was the weirdest feeling. Lots of pre-surgery tests going on, being moved to a new room……..just a weird, indescribable energy. And it was probably fully laced with fear. Stephen and I were just kind of staring at each other and it was like I could see through his eyes and see that he was scared.

And so was I.

And then, as crazy as this sounds, my mind went back to the train station platform. I said to Stephen “we can’t control this – let’s just enjoy the day”. And you know, we did.

It truly was one of the weirdest days of my life. Word got out that I was having surgery again, so people were visiting, the phone was ringing non-stop, lots of laughing. No tears.

But taking the simplistic notion that you should only worry about the things you can control, got myself, my family and friends through one of the toughest days of my life.

 

With hearty thanks for reading,

 

That Heart Guy

Peter Gallagher

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