Hazels Story

"I shouldn’t be writing this letter. I shouldn’t actually still be alive despite the fact that I have always had perfect health and have everything to live for, including five beautiful children.

Out of the blue I got sharp chest pains during my normal Sunday morning run – I had a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, one of the known causes of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. I was rushed to the coronary care unit at Galway University Hospital and by that evening I was being told that I wouldn’t survive another ten days without surgery. That surgery turned out to be a quadruple bypass; my surgeon Mr Dave Veerasingam told me it was the worst heart he’d seen in his twenty five year career.

And if you think that sounds like a nightmare, that’s nothing.

What’s far, far worse is what my family went through.

My children were taken out of school. My little one Grace, only 4 years old, didn’t recognise me – black and blue with tubes coming out of my neck and my nose. My sister flew back from Australia. My mother, who lost my poor Dad five years ago, privately swore that she couldn’t lose me too. In the agonising few hours after my surgery, the surgeon stood in the family room and told them that “She isn’t in pain anymore. But her organs are closing down. We need her to turn a corner soon.”

I don’t remember a thing about those weeks, as I inched my way back to life. But if I could have been a guardian angel over my family during that time I would have given them the two things that Croi gave them in my absence; amazing support and a place to stay, minutes from the hospital so that the family could rest and stay by my bedside on rotation without worrying about hotel bills, long journeys and difficult changes to routine.

You see the family support accommodation that Croi offers is more than an apartment. It’s a haven where, during the worst nightmare of your life, you can rest a while, cry a little, and try to maintain some sense of normality – for the kids if not for yourself. You do not realise how important it is to have your family close by, until it is the only thing that might be keeping you alive. I will never be able to thank Croi and all the staff at the cardiac unit in Galway enough.

Though I do try. I’ve raised over €4,000 for Croi this year and now I am volunteering with their Golden Ticket Draw which is a major fundraiser for Croi each year. It’s more than a raffle – it’s providing vital support for victims of heart attack and stroke. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that means someone else, somewhere else. I was a young mother of five. I was perfectly healthy.

I shouldn’t be writing this letter – but I’m glad I can. I hope you can help by buying or selling some raffle tickets. After all it’s nice for family to be together at Christmas, but it’s vital for family to be together in a crisis.

Please support this very worthy cause."

Hazel Gunn

Elphin, Co Roscommon

Croi's Golden Ticket Draw takes place Friday 16th December 2016, buy your ticket here and support the work carried out by Croi.