Gaylynn Pinniger

My Journey - When I first wrote my story for the Cardiomyopathy Association of Australia’s newsletter it was long and detailed. As the time goes on much of the detail is lost and my story has become much shorter.

It all began when I had just celebrated my 50th Birthday. Up until that time I had always seemed to be a healthy person (apart from feeling a bit stressed at times), never having to take time off work. It was just a matter of not being able to walk distances which I had in the past. Then one day at work I felt ‘absolutely awful’. On that day I had a lunch appointment then went straight from the lunch appointment to see a city doctor. Instead of going back to work I ended up being sent to Epworth Hospital by ambulance. It was lucky for me that my husband made it in time to jump in the ambulance which was parked opposite the Melbourne Town Hall. I was diagnosed as having Ventricular Tachycardia – I had never heard of it. Three years back at work and I again felt ‘really awful’. This time I was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy - what was that!

The rollercoaster began with procedures such as ablations, being transferred from Melbourne to Westmead Hospital, Sydney in 2001 in an air ambulance to be under an appropriate specialist and returning to Melbourne after open heart surgery and needing a defibrillator (that led to some interesting times!!!)

Emotions – Hated losing my independence, feeling you are a burden, just wanting to feel ‘right’, feeling afraid of the unknown.

Keeping Positive – Appreciating the kindness of others. Realising how lucky I was to have a beautiful view, watching the clouds go by and checking out the planes on their approach to Melbourne Airport. And most of all when things seemed really bad to ‘visualize’ something special. In my case I chose daffodils – my favourite flower because to me it is a sign that Spring is on its way.

Best Buy - Second hand Jason recliner which became my day bed, my office chair and my entertaining chair. Has rarely been used since my transplant.

Getting around (only very locally) –In my borrowed old style electric scooter. On one trip to a restaurant wondered why there was a burning smell on the way back. Forgot about the handbrake!

Lessons Learned - Hopefully understanding how difficult it is for those who need to ‘sit down’ or use a wheelchair. In groups everyone seems to talk ‘standing up’ and you feel almost invisible. I used to request my soft drink be in a wine glass when socialising!

My call –My elderly aunt had come to keep me company and was staying the night. I had mentioned to my husband that he should make sure the mobile phone was on when he was using the computer (dial-up then). We had become a little lax about making sure the pager was close at hand! What a shock when 20 minutes later the call came through from
Anne Griffiths. My first reaction was ‘But I have just had an operation’. I was again feeling ‘awful’ having had the defibrillator moved when it looked like there may be some infection. How lucky I was to come to my senses.

Looking Back on My Life – Rewarding secretarial career in the Public Service. Overseas working holiday in my 20s, travel

Current Life – Busy!

Gaylynn Pinniger
Heart Transplant 2002