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David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey
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David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David's heart failure diagnosis led to significant changes in his life.

Discovering he had heart failure in his early 40s took truck driver David to a low point in his life, but the experience has made him stronger. Now he’s taking care of himself, keeping active and determined to stay healthy for his loved ones. 

David, 45, born in New Zealand and Maori, works as a truck driver in Queensland. He has a wife, Natasha, and two adult sons, Jade Jordan and Logan John.

David’s heart story 

One minute I was cruising along, another busy Queensland dad, on the road a lot for my work as a truck driver. Then I discovered I had a heart condition and my world was turned upside down.

It was August 2017 and I couldn’t shake the flu. By September it was becoming increasingly hard to breathe. I had to sleep upright in a chair because I was struggling for air when I lay down. 

One day at work, a colleague told me I really should see a doctor about my breathing difficulties. Luckily for me, and my family, I took his advice. What I thought would probably be a routine visit to the GP was the start of a long journey.

My GP sent me straight to hospital for tests and it came as a huge surprise when testing showed that the left side of my heart wasn’t working properly. The doctors later told me I also had two blood clots – one in my heart, another in my lung.

I was stunned because I was only 43 at the time. Surely only much older people get heart failure, I remember thinking. Now I know heart problems can happen to people of all ages. While heart failure is much more likely to happen as you age, it doesn’t only affect the elderly.

I was treated with medication and sent home after staying a week in hospital. But the very next morning I was back. Again, I was struggling to breathe and had a tightness in my chest I couldn’t ignore. This time the medical team found two more blood clots, again in my heart and lung.

After getting out of hospital the second time, it was time to recover and make some major lifestyle changes. This would include overhauling my diet, losing weight, and getting more exercise, which I knew would be an adjustment. 
That was just the start of things, though. I didn’t realise changing my lifestyle wasn’t the only challenge that lay ahead of me.
Unable to work for 18 months, I struggled with depression during that time, and it was financially stressful because I unable to contribute. I’m lucky my family and friends helped me pull through, and I got professional help, so finally things started to improve. 

Looking back, I think I’ve come a long way since being diagnosed with heart failure.

At my heaviest, while retaining fluid, I weighed 138 kg. I was eating six meals a day – and they were all the wrong foods. I lost about 40 kg by choosing healthier foods, cutting out alcohol and hitting the gym regularly. Our two fluffy dogs, a Maltese Shih Tzu and a Moodle, were a good motivator to get outdoors and keep up the steps.

Getting on the right side of healthy wasn’t easy at the beginning, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Now I exercise five days a week, watch what I eat, and am back at work behind the wheel.

I stay on top of medical check-ups and see my GP fortnightly because I’m also on blood thinning medication. 

Having a significant family history of heart disease and seeing several relatives die has also inspired me to take better care of my ticker. That pushed me to where I am now because I don’t want to become another statistic.

After returning to my job, I took the opportunity to share my story with some workmates and it got them thinking ‘this could happen to me as well’.

That’s great to hear, because I hope my experience can remind others that it’s important to stay on top of your health and seek medical advice early on. It could end up saving your life.

If I hadn’t listened to my colleague that day when he told me go to the doctor, things could have turned out a lot differently.

This has driven home that if you think something might be wrong with your health, go see your doctor and get checked out. Also, when you’re going through a tough time, it’s more important than ever to look after your physical and mental health.

These days, I think about where I want to be in the future and know that staying healthy for my wife and two sons is what’s most important.
I still want to be around to see my grandchildren.

David’s one piece advice  

Don’t wait until it’s too late to see a doctor. Put your health and wellbeing first – for yourself, and the ones you love. 


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