As we all gather at Christmas to enjoy family festivities and gift-giving, there is one family that Christmas evokes particular poignancy. Debbie Needler will surely gather her family around the Christmas tree this year to celebrate the gift of life and health.
An intense headache, two days before Christmas 2014, threw Debbie’s Christmas preparations into disarray. Debbie needed to get on top of the pain. She visited her doctor, who gave her a shot of pethidine, and she tried to sleep it off, but her headache only continued.
“We rang the Healthline in Tauranga and an ambulance was called,” said Debbie. “My head was just thumping.”
“A CT scan later showed something untoward,” said Debbie, “but from that moment on, I have no memory of what took place.”
Debbie was raced up to ICU, but by Christmas Eve, her condition had deteriorated. The Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter, with a specialist team on-board, was dispatched that evening to fly in and airlift her to Waikato Hospital and urgent surgery. Before her husband arrived at Waikato Hospital, Debbie’s surgery was over and she was back in the ward.
Debbie woke up on Christmas morning to the gift of 22 staples, a drain in her head and her life saved.
“We discovered that the headache was caused by a blockage, not a stroke or an aneurism; my blood vessels had just ruptured due to thinning,” she said.
“Because I can’t remember much, I rely on people to tell me a lot of what happened. I didn’t know the rescue helicopter had flown me. I thought my family were lying. They had to show me a photo of the transport to prove I had been flown!” she laughed.
“I am so grateful to those who saved my life,” said Debbie. “I may have never have enjoyed another Christmas if not for my rapid flight in the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the skill of the doctors.”