July 13, 2008

A stroke by any other name...could be fatal

I gotta say the last few months have been quite stressful due to the economic situation and for other reasons and how I avoided blowing a gasket for the last few weeks is a genuine mystery, but all things come to an end.

So there I was having tea with a Christoph Vogelli, GM of Horison Hotel and all of a sudden I felt weak and the room started to spin. I waited for it to pass, which it did, but it came back a few minutes later even worse so I decided to go have myself checked out at Hanoi Family Clinic.

While waiting for the doctor to have a free moment to check me over, I noticed that everyone in the room was beginning to move in slow motion and the doctor, who knows me very well, was looking very concerned. I couldnít understand what he was saying because my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it

I donít remember how I ended up in the critical care area with an oxygen tube up my nose, an IV drip in my arm and EKG pads glued to my chest, and I wasnít worried until the doctor said "weíre going to give you some nitro-glycerine and some aspirin as a precaution."

Those words cut through the fog in my head like a laser because, according to every TV show, itís standard initial treatment for a possible heart attack.

To make a long story short, the tests showed that it wasnít a heart attack, which Iíll admit was a relief. Chances are it was just G-d serving notice that I need to lighten up a bit and relax more. He always knows whatís best for me even when I myself do not.

Given a choice to stay there for observation or going home, I opted to be with my daughter as five minutes of holding her is the best stress reliever for me.

I am not ashamed to admit that I shamelessly tout Hanoi Family Clinic because they have literally saved my life three times in Vietnam during the last 16 years. Yes, I know French-Vietnam Hospital and SOS are also good, but I like to know there are people who would take it personally if I die or not, so I stick with HFC.

While I was fortunate this time around, I know that sooner or later (hopefully a LOT later) fate is gonna catch up with me and I would prefer it happens someplace that help is immediately available.

Unfortunately, being on a golf course would not be my first choice.

In the US, enough people have suffered heart attacks on golf courses to warrant individual clubs purchasing portable cardiac defibrillators which can be used by the staff to zap someone who is in cardiac arrest and hopefully keep them alive until trained medical personnel arrive.

If you have a heart attack on a golf course here in Vietnam, youíre in trouble because very few golf courses here have trained doctors on staff. You wonít find a heart surgeon at the club unless theyíre a member and you know they donít have a defibrillator in their golf bag either.

Also, most golf courses are quite far from city centres and when it comes to heart attacks, strokes or snake bite, time is everything.

Back in 1998 when I started working at Thu Duc (VGCC), one player suffered a heart attack and fortunately our company doctor had some nitro pills and we were able to get SOS out there fast.

After that episode, I realised we got off lucky and instituted an emergency response plan where all key personnel, i.e., golf operations personnel, starters, marshals, F&B personnel, GC maintenance supervisors and club management received training and became certified in CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).

We also made sure that reception and pro shop telephone operators had the phone numbers of the local hospital and SOS at their fingertips so no time would be wasted looking it up.

I urge every club manager in Vietnam to institute the same type of policy and think about ways to deal with a potential tragedy before it happens because you never know when it will strikeÖ

Trust me on this.

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