Heart set on trip despite scare
Three heart attacks in four days soon put the brakes on Ray Poynter's campervan tour of the North Island.
The 62-year-old Blenheim man was planning a fishing trip to Coromandel and heading as far north as Cape Reinga. Having already toured the South Island with a stop in Bluff, he wanted to say he had covered the length of New Zealand.
But he was stopped in his tracks in May when he suffered three heart attacks without realising it.
The former softball player for Hutt Valley felt a burning sensation in his chest and loss of breath, he said.
"It was like someone was holding a hot flannel in the centre of my chest and then I started gasping for breath. I stood up and had a drink of water. Ten minutes later I was good as gold."
The next day Mr Poynter was cutting firewood in Ward when he felt the same burning sensation.
Two days later he was at work helping to build swimming pools. He picked up a shovel and the same thing happened again.
Mr Poynter rang the doctor and within a couple of hours he was on a plane to Nelson, where he stayed for a week before being transferred to Wellington for a triple bypass operation.
A month after his heart surgery and Mr Poynter is determined to get on the road again.
It will take him five or six weeks to travel the North Island, Mr Poynter said.
"It's a really good way to see the country. You just drive along and when you get tired you stop at the next town, which might be only 10 kilometres away. It certainly put the old holiday on hold, but I'll get away next year."
Mr Poynter bought his self-contained campervan in November. It has a shower, toilet, stove and satellite television.
"You can survive for three days without even opening the door. It's the way to get around."
Before getting behind the wheel though, Mr Poynter is first on the road to recovery.
He was full of praise for the doctors and nurses who took care of him during his health scare.
"People moan and groan about the hospital system until they come to need it," he said. "I still get shortness of breath but I'm starting to come right."
- The Marlborough Express