Graphic: David the unstoppable
When David crossed the 10km finish line during the Gold Coast Marathon weekend, with daughter Julie and wife Bronwyn, he had more to celebrate than most. Only 10 short months before, David was on an emergency flight from Bundaberg to Brisbane having suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm.
David is a fit and active 69 year old but in September last year while working out at the gym with wife Bronwyn his life changed in an instant. David doesn't remember much of what happened next but Bronwyn will never forgot that day.
"It was 7:00am in the morning and David and I had been at the gym for about 40 minutes when he complained of a sudden and severe headache," Bronwyn recalls. "He looked really pale and while I suggested we go to the hospital he said he just wanted to go home and try to sleep it off.
"By the time we had walked to the car the pain in his head had got a lot worse and he agreed to go to the hospital instead."
Bundaberg Base Hospital is only a five-minute drive from the gym and the emergency department team saw David straight away.
David needed specialist care and equipment, something that could only be provided at a larger tertiary hospital so an emergency flight to Brisbane with the Flying Doctor was arranged.
"I was so shocked when I heard the RFDS was flying David to Brisbane. I never thought we would need their help but I was so grateful they were there when we needed them," Bronwyn said.
David spent two weeks at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, originally in the Intensive Care Unit before moving to the Neurology Ward. "It has been a long road to recovery, when David first got home he had trouble reading and wasn't able to drive, however I'm pleased to say he has returned to normal now and while he still gets tired easily life is pretty much back to how it use to be."
David said although his memory surrounding the events of the day was a little hazy, he would never forget the compassion shown by the staff at the hospital, in the ambulance and on board with the RFDS.
"The support of the RFDS staff on that flight to Brisbane provided me with much-needed hope and comfort, especially as I began to realise the seriousness of the situation," he said.
"I know that without the speedy diagnosis and the skills of the RFDS, I would most probably not be alive to tell this story or would be suffering significant ongoing impairment.
"To see Jackie and the other staff when my wife and I returned to say thanks was an absolute joy. We will be forever grateful for what they did for me."
Flight Nurse Jackie Hardy
I first saw David at the Bundaberg Base Hospital, surrounded by family. He was awake and talking to us though complaining of a severe headache and his blood pressure was dangerously high. He was stabilised for flight and rushed to our awaiting aircraft.
During flight, the doctor and I worked on lowering David's blood pressure while managing his pain levels. David was experiencing photophobia, an extreme sensitivity to light, due to the aneurism. I kept the cabin as dark as possible to relieve some of his symptoms.
When we landed in Brisbane I sent a text message to David's sister to reassure her that David was close to specialist care and was still stable.
An ambulance met us in Brisbane and transported us to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where he was handed over to the Emergency Department staff.
A few months later, David called into the RFDS Bundaberg Base with some flowers. I was so pleased to see him. It is great to get feedback especially with such a fantastic outcome.