When Philip Smith returned to work following treatment for his bladder cancer he was very much looking forward to hitting the ground running and getting back into his usual routine.
But the 55-year-old, who works at The James Cook University Hospital for Serco as a quality assurance manager, started experiencing some slight chest pain that stopped him in his tracks.
“I used to walk eight to nine miles around the hospital every day before my treatment and shielding,” he said.
“Although the feeling would stop me still, I really didn’t think much of it and just thought it was because of a lack of exercise.
“Then one morning I felt a heavy weight on my chest, it felt like someone was sitting on me.”
After explaining the sensation to his doctor he was quickly transferred to The James Cook University Hospital’s cardio investigations team and prepared himself for a possible stent.
However, things were a lot more serious than it first appeared on his CT scan. Doctors discovered that four of Philip’s arteries were either blocked or blocking and he was immediately booked in to see consultant surgeon Ralph White the following week.
“Mr White told me I needed a quadruple bypass and asked me when I wanted it. I joked and said ‘how about tomorrow?’ and was gobsmacked when he turned around and said I can’t do tomorrow but I can do it next Friday.
“Before my appointment with Mr White I’d been worrying about the waiting lists and told my wife if I don’t get sorted soon my heart’s going to pop and it could be game over.
“We both thought it was just going to be a consultation to come up with a plan of action rather than an appointment to schedule the surgery so we were amazed at the speed.”
The next week Philip returned to the hospital where he has worked for nearly five years and was admitted to ward 32 before having the major surgery the next day.
“The afternoon after my procedure I woke up in ICU and I could instantly feel the difference. Considering I’d just done ten rounds with a scalpel I felt fine!”
Philip made a brilliant recovery and by the next day was moved back to ward 32 instead of the high dependency unit, which is where patients would normally be transferred to after having a major bypass.
“I knew they would only discharge me if they were confident I was ready so I was happy to come home.
“I have good and bad days but considering I’ve just had major surgery I already feel better.”