Not many people survive a blockage of the LAD artery – the cause of the heart attack commonly known as the widow maker. So, when Bunbury business owner Rob Marshall found himself in the throes of the mother of all heart attacks – he didn’t realise the odds of survival were not on his side.
Marshall’s weekend had begun like any other, he’d kissed his wife and kids goodbye and headed off to the local cricket pitch to play a match with his team. He’d just come off the field from batting and was heading to the change rooms when the pain hit. Excruciating, crushing, debilitating. Marshall described it as though someone had dumped a concrete block on his chest and driven off.
Instantly he knew it was a heart attack and that he was in terrible trouble. Staggering back outside to his teammates, Marshall recalls collapsing into a chair as all hell broke loose
“It was like a Monty Python movie – they were all running around like crazy, trying to call triple zero, trying to find someone with some aspirin. One of the guys runs up and says to me: ‘Robbie, I did a first aid course last week and I think you’re having a heart attack’. And I thought d’uh…” he laughs.
“Meanwhile the cricket match is still going on behind us and I hear the sounds of the willow crack and the shout of ‘howzat’. My friend Jerry, the person I think is going to help me through this crisis, turns around sees what’s happening. He turns to me and says ‘Robbie I’m the next batsman in – I’m gonna have to go’.
“No worries Jerry, I say.” What about I just stay here. Don’t worry. I’ll probably be dead when you get back,” Marshall chuckles.
As the match plays on, Marshall’s teammates continue to try to get through to emergency services to no avail. Eventually, they make the decision to bundle him into a car and drive the 20-minutes to the hospital. Marshall says by this time, he had passed out and didn’t revive until the doctors had been working on him for over half an hour. It’s when an ECG is done of his heart that the enormity of what he has survived is realised. But it also unveils a small miracle. For Marshall’s LAD vessel was completely blocked. But the x-ray had revealed three additional arteries to his heart. Arteries not regularly seen in human anatomy.
Emerging from the hospital, five stints and three angioplasties later, Marshall was told to go home and enjoy life.
“That’s when the questions of why started to come about.”
Marshalls tells KBB he is no stranger to hardship, he and his wife had been through tough times before.
“Back in the 90s, we lost two million in a venture that brought us to our knees. We lost our son, our house burnt down then our other son as in a car accident, my father passed away and my mother was diagnosed with CJD. Life had caught up with me.”
Marshall acknowledges he’d lost control of his life and lost sight of what was valuable.
“I’d lost control. Working and becoming effectively a slave to my own client base. I had lost all sense of control.”
Following the heart attack, Marshall says he took stock, regrouped and postponed going back to work in order to find his focus on what truly mattered to him.
“It made me really conscious of what mattered. I began to value the personal successes. So, I took three months off work then gradually phased going back in. Now I work four days a week and I have a long weekend every weekend.”
And rather than make less money, Marshall’s WA firm, Ebiz, has seen the dividends.
“In the last nine months we’ve made more money and had greater profits than the history of our business, yet I’m working half the hours.”
Marshall tells KBB everything turned around when he realised he had to make personal changes and he says he’s grateful for the widow maker that almost took his life.
“It made me realise the importance of simplifying success. Why I need to rediscover those connections and why it’s important to love your work – but love your family and kids and spouse so much more!”