– We asked Greg to recall the day this past Summer that the world nearly lost him –
It’s the sound of the breathing – that’s what brought it back for me. Watching it back when I got out of hospital and hearing that low, guttural, snoring-like sound – that was the moment I nearly died. That’s when I remembered lying on my back, trying to breathe, and feeling like every ounce of energy from my body was gone.
I’d just done what was almost my last performance with The Wiggles – a bushfire relief concert in January this year. The OG Wiggles back together again to raise money for those people affected by the bushfires that occurred throughout Australia over a very hot and dry summer.
That night on stage, for us too, was very hot, and when I collapsed, I think people thought I had overdone it, and the heat was responsible for my sudden collapse. Thankfully, some people noticed I had stopped breathing, and was not in a good way. CPR was commenced and that saved my life.
I don’t remember much of the night at all – or the day. Trauma amnesia they call it – the body’s (or minds’) way of blocking out something that is too traumatic to want to recall.
So, when I woke up in hospital with hardly any memories of the show, and no memories of how or why I was in hospital, it was extremely confronting to be told that I had just survived a cardiac arrest – and my ribs would be very sore from where “they” performed CPR on me.
The only memory between that moment, and blacking out on the floor of the stage at Castle Hill RSL, that I have, is of my wife, Vanessa – a cardiac nurse of 25 plus years – standing beside my bed pre-op at Westmead hospital, and telling me that I was “having a massive heart attack”. Those two phrases – heart attack, and cardiac arrest – stay with me to this day, and I am sure they will never leave me.
From that moment on, I was trying to piece it all together. What happened? When did it happen? Why did it happen? How did I survive? Who did what – And was I wearing clean underwear!? I had no idea if I had lost control of my bodily functions throughout the process, and modesty had gotten the better of my line of thinking!
Yes, as strange as it might seem, that last thought DID go through my mind – but honestly – I didn’t care about what people may or may not have seen. I was alive, and THAT thought was not lost on me.
Perhaps the weirdest thing of all was watching news stories from my hospital bed about an experience that I was so heavily involved in and that was that being reported on by all major networks, but which I had no recollection, or knowledge of.
Obviously, once I blacked out, and was “gone”, there is no way I could remember or have known what was happening at that time. Unless of course, I had had an out of body experience – a part-transition to the next life, so to speak – but no, I didn’t remember anything like that – no white lights drawing me closer. No-one told me, “your work there is not done yet, so you must stay”. No, I don’t think I ever “left the building”. I think the CPR that was given to me kept me very much alive and fighting to stay in this realm that I love so dearly, because I do feel on a soul level that my work here is not done yet. That’s why I didn’t experience the light – because there is no doubt that I was not meant to go that night.
And so, with much assistance from Vanessa and those around me, I began to put together the pieces of what occurred. I was able to get a copy of the performance to watch back to jog my memory – and of course, the bit I was most intrigued by was the bit that I had seen many times on the news – the bit where I walk past Murray as he is putting his guitar down, and collapse to the floor.
So, I cued that up, and watched it. I rewound it (sorry for using old fashioned language!), and watched it again – but no, I didn’t remember walking off stage and collapsing. It was on the third time that I watched it back that I heard something – a low, humming, or grunting kind of sound, and my ears pricked up. I remembered that sound. It was me – I remembered lying there making that noise as I was trying to breath. My microphone was still on – I hadn’t hit the “off” switch as I left the stage, and my mic was still “live” or “hot”, and the sound engineer hadn’t muted it at that point – because we were usually right on top of when to turn our mics on and off as needed. But this time, I had no way of turning it off – I was dying.
I was incapable of doing anything. As I drew those last breaths, nothing was flashing before my eyes. I don’t remember feeling afraid, scared or fearful.
But as I look back, I feel grateful, amazed and humbled, that people who were there, just going about their everyday business, recognised that I was in trouble, and that I needed their help. I wasn’t ready to go.
No way was I ready to leave this life. So, to those who wonder if they should step up and have a go at performing CPR on someone who is in need of help, the answer, I would say is a huge YES! So please, do something to empower yourself to be that angel by someone’s side – because you never know when you might be called upon to keep someone alive – someone who has people who love and care about them, and who they love and care about too.
Please – learn CPR and how to save a life. It is most certainly, a priceless skill.
Join me online for a heart saving live stream on September 19th – Register for Heart of The Neighbourhood, a free life saving online seminar at nextdoor.com.au/heartoftheneighbourhood