When 83-year-old Olive Tatler woke up one morning feeling a little under the weather she had no idea her life was at risk. She had an emergency operation that day, and now, determined to redress some of the negative press she feels the health service and police often receive, she wants to thank those who helped her through a harrowing ordeal. She talked to CHARLENE MITCHELL about that day and the events that led up to it
GREAT-GRANDMOTHER Olive Tatler has a heart as tough as an old boot - according to the surgeon who saved her life. The 83-year-old, who lives in West End Road, South Ruislip, has had a rough time recently.
She was diagnosed with bowel cancer 12 years ago, and had to spend six weeks in hospital after an operation to remove it.
Then, last September, she woke up one morning and was going about her usual business, getting ready to head off to Perivale Sports Centre, when she noticed something wasn't quite right.
"I went to put my skirt on and noticed my legs were like elephant legs and my whole body was swollen," she said.
"When I got to the sports centre I called my doctor and he told me to go to Hillingdon Hospital.
"When I got there the doctors examined me and told me I was full of fluid.
"They got rid of the fluid, but they said my heart was in a very bad condition and should they ever need to operate on me they doubted they would because my heart wouldn't be able to cope with the anaesthetic."
Mrs Tatler went home and everything was fine for a few months, but on April 14 she woke up feeling rather unwell.
She said: "I called my doctor and he said he would send an ambulance straight away.
"He must have had my record in front of him because he didn't waste any time in sending it.
"I got into the ambulance and the last thing I remember is one of the paramedics waving some keys at me saying he had locked up. I must have passed out after that.
"They took me to A&E at Hillingdon Hospital and they had to do an emergency operation on me.
"After the operation, the surgeon came to see me and said I had a twisted bowel and they had to take a bit of it away. They also had to remove gallstones.
"He said they only had three minutes to decide whether to do the operation but they went ahead with it because they have to give everyone a chance - even though my chances were slim because of my heart.
"If they hadn't made the decision in three minutes I wouldn't be here now.
"Luckily I pulled through the operation and I think they were very surprised that I did. The surgeon said I must have a heart as tough as an old boot."
Mrs Tatler was in hospital for five weeks recovering and the first week of that was spent in intensive care.
She now wants to thank her doctor for calling the ambulance as quickly as he did and also the surgeon, Mr Kelly, and his team, for using their expertise to save her life.
She said: "I praise the hospital staff because they were brilliant and I was very well looked after."
Mrs Tatler also wants to thank the police for their efficiency.
She said: "My birthday was on April 28 when I was still in hospital and my friend who lives in Australia had been ringing my house phone to wish me a happy birthday.
"When she couldn't get an answer, she called Ruislip Police Station and they came round to my house.
"When they found there was no one here they made some enquiries and found out I was in hospital and they called my friend back to tell her.
"My friend said she wished their police were as efficient as ours.
"The police are always getting bad press so I just want to show how grateful I am to them."