Bob White is back on court after his near-death experience.
Bob White is back on court after his near-death experience. Adam Hourigan

Bob's second chance

IMAGINE saying goodbye to your daughters, then waking up in St Vincent’s Hospital four days later.

Imagine having no recollection of playing squash, spending three days in Grafton Base Hospital or a flight from Grafton to Sydney.

It’s scary stuff.

Local squash player Bob White did just that.

However, the 59-year-old Grafton Squash Centre member can’t remember a thing from the moment he left his Coutts Crossing residence to waking up to the news he had just undergone a triple heart bypass.

“I had a heart attack on the squash court about four-and-a-half years ago,” Bob said.

“It seems I had a cholesterol problem, which blocked my arteries.

“I remember leaving home and saying goodbye to my daughters who were staying with me at the time and that’s the last thing I recall.

“The next thing I know is I woke up in recovery at St Vincent’s Hospital.”

Bob’s weekly game of squash turned into a nightmare, but thanks to some quick action from fellow squash members and ambulance officers he was given a second chance at life.

“Apparently I was playing against Adele Galloway and after we finished playing she saw me lying on the floor,” Bob said.

“She thought I was just playing around.

"They ended up doing CPR on me and the doctors said I was probably dead for about 15 minutes.

“I was told a few people from the squash club helped me until the ambulance arrived.

"Apparently it took them 10 minutes to get my heart started again.”

Asked if he felt lucky to still be alive, Bob said luck had nothing to do with it.

“I put it down to God, not luck,” he said, as his eyes turned to the heavens.

“The doctors had given up on me because I was out for so long and thought I’d probably have brain damage.

“I spent three days at Grafton Hospital, which I don’t remember of course, then they flew me to Sydney and the doctors performed a triple bypass.

“I vaguely remember someone saying: ‘You’re on an aeroplane going to Sydney’.

"It had to be real but I thought I dreamt it.”

A keen squash player for more than 15 years, Bob said it was a long road to recovery but his determination and love of life pulled him through one of the toughest periods of his life.

“It took about a year before I could feel good about myself,” he said.

Apart from playing squash, Bob is a keen football player, although he admits his first game back after his miraculous recovery didn’t quite go to plan.

“In my first game back I dislocated my shoulder and needed a reconstruction,” he says.

“So when I had the crook shoulder I couldn’t play squash.”

Bob remembers clearly his first nervous steps on to the squash court after that frightful day four years ago that almost took his life.

“It was a bit nerve-wracking at first. I thought I’m either going back to hospital, be dead, or something like that,” he said with a resolute smile.

“But once I got my first game under my belt it wasn’t that bad.”

And Bob’s thoughts on being given a second chance at life?

“You can die a miserable death, or die knowing you have achieved things in your life,” he says.

“This is a second chance to do more for my fellow man.”

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