How ‘dull pain’ landed popular cameraman on operating table
HIGH-PROFILE television cameraman Kent Murray should be one week into a two-month road trip with wife Lesley.
Instead he is bunkered down at his Rockhampton home recovering from quadruple bypass surgery.
The 55-year-old underwent the marathon operation at a Brisbane hospital on March 15.
He spent two days in ICU and another eight days on the ward before he was released and returned home late last week.
Kent is in good spirits but his inability to sleep is a frustration.
Wife Lesley suggests it's his enforced slowdown that's most annoying for him.
"You know Kent, he's normally here, there and everywhere," she said.
"It's driving him insane that he can't do anything.
"He doesn't know what he wants to do. He'll sit down for two seconds, then get up. He doesn't know whether he's Arthur or Martha right now."
Kent agrees that he is struggling to settle but appreciates that's a small price to pay for his new lease on life.
"I'm feeling really good otherwise. It will be a long road to recovery but I've just got to take it easy," he said.
"I'm walking and doing things, I'm up and down the steps a few times a day.
"I've got these things I've got to suck and blow to get my lungs working.
"I've got three months off work but I just have to see how it goes."
Kent is staying close to home, the risk of contracting COVID-19 a genuine concern.
"They've told me my immune system will be down for about 12 months after the surgery I've had," he said.
"I know I'm at high risk so I have to be really careful."
Kent said he had experienced some chest pains around his sternum probably six or eight times in the past month.
On one occasion he went to the hospital, where doctors did a stress test which "came back okay".
It was on Sunday, March 1, on a trip to Yeppoon that things took a dramatic turn.
"The pain started when we were at Lakes Creek Meatworks and when we got down to Thompsons Point I said to Lesley, 'this is not right'," Kent said.
"It was a dull pain, it wasn't like you kicked me in the shins, it was just a constant ache."
Kent went to hospital again and was referred for an echocardiogram.
The specialist told him that he needed an angiogram and he would be sent to Brisbane because "if you need a stent put in they'll do it straight away".
Kent went to Brisbane on March 12 and had the angiogram the following day.
"At the end of it they said, 'Sorry, you're too far gone. You need a quadruple bypass and we're going to do it on Monday afternoon'," he said.
"It was a shock, I suppose.
"I know I was overweight. I wouldn't say I was fit but I was always active. I'd never dawdle, if I was going somewhere I was going."
Kent had no hesitation signing the consent forms for the surgery.
"There was no real option. It was a case of Plan A you get it done or Plan B you're going to die," he said.
While Kent has no recollection of it, Lesley said he was very emotional as he was being wheeled to theatre.
"He was quite traumatised. Even the night before anything would set him off. You had to tip-toe around him," she said.
"You just don't know how you're going to feel when you're facing something like this.
"He was crying heading into surgery.
"He almost had the whole ward crying for him."
Kent said the surgery took about six hours.
"It's a full-on process," he said.
"They take the heart out of your body and sit it on your chest and they put you a machine to keep you going.
"They took veins out of my forearm and two out of my chest wall.
"They basically cut your chest in half and your chest has to be wired back together.
"Now if I cough or sneeze I have to press a folded towel up against my chest so the force doesn't rupture my sternum."
Kent said he was incredibly grateful his heart problem was detected before he went on his holiday.
"We were going away for two months. The plan was just to get in the car and drive," he said.
"I could have been driving on the road and had a heart attack and crashed.
"Who knows how much longer I could have gone on if I hadn't had the surgery done now.
"It's definitely been life-changing for us."