Even as he lay on his side, breathless and semi-conscious, Michael Spooner was lucky.
The former ABC Radio morning and breakfast show announcer had suffered a clot on his lungs - a pulmonary embolism, or PE - that straddled both sides of his pulmonary artery and infested all four lobes of his lungs.
If the 63-year-old had been anywhere else - behind the wheel of a car, at home alone - he would have been dead.
But there he was, prone on the ground in the rehearsal studio with his bandmates from the very popular 60s revival band The Day Trippers gathered around him.
The clot, a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT had formed in his leg, moved up his body, passing through his heart, and was now draped over the top of his lungs.
He was short of breath and dizzy. His oxygen levels were critically low.
"I was aware of the situation but I saw our drummer's face and he looked stricken with panic," Michael says.
"They called an ambulance; I could breathe but it was difficult.
"Apparently the clot had started to move and was reducing my oxygen intake. and was capturing more blood clots when it stopped at the artery.
"I was lucky because when I slid to the floor, I ended up on my side - which I thought in retrospect, was probably a good thing, I was not alone and I was reasonably healthy," he said.
"All those things combined to save my life."
In hospital, the medical staff didn't have to look to hard to find the clot. The CT scan clearly showed the easily visible dark mass.
Initially the clot developed after Michael suffered a slight tear to his calf muscle about three years ago - a DVT typically forms in the thigh or the lower leg.
Fortunately - or perhaps luckily - DVTs often form more easily in smokers. Michael is a non-smoker.
"Simply being my age - that is, in my 60s - places me in the higher risk category though," he says.
"It turns out my heart - because of my general good fitness - was in good shape.
"I aim to play nine holes of golf once a week - although it's been more like once a year lately; and I cycle with the U3A cycling club too - in the flat and easy class," he says.
"As well, I was always a bit on the slim side throughout my life which was now working in my favour."
As well, I was always a bit on the slim side throughout my life which was now working in my favour.- Michael Spooner
Michael had noticed changes to his breathing since around January and accepted that "something was wrong with my chest".
"I have been a bad asthmatic in my childhood, but had outgrown it as an adult; nevertheless, I felt like I had bad asthma, but without the distinctive wheezing noise that accompanies asthma. So I just upped my preventative medication and thought that would fix it."
He visited his GP a couple of times, while a chest x-ray came back all clear.
The former breakfast and morning show announcer arrived at the ABC Mid North Coast after being a late bloomer to the radio industry.
A lifelong guitarist since leaving school in the late 70s, Michael had worked for the National Australia Bank for a decade - "a suitably undemanding job that enabled me to follow music but still get through the next day half-asleep".
He met and married Narelle: "Meeting her was the best thing to ever happen to me," he says
The couple's daughter Zoe was born soon after, and they lived a charmed life in a one-bedroom unit overlooking Sydney's Dee Why beach for a decade.
In the mid-80s he earned an honours degree in Australian literature from Sydney University.
Despite enjoying a good lifestyle of work and family life, Michael decided to stretch his wings and started cutting his teeth in community radio.
In 1997 and already aged 40, he joined the ABC in Rockhampton, which eventually saw him return to Sydney in 2001, working for 11 years at the ABC's Sydney headquarters at Ultimo.
Just over a decade into his ABC career he took a chance to do a short stint as mornings presenter with the ABC in Port Macquarie.
Despite the urgings of Narelle, he did not push too hard for a more permanent position at the station, sensing that the door had not yet slammed fully shut.
His instincts were right; the position did open up again, and Michael jumped at the chance.
He would spend five years in the chair until his retirement from full-time broadcasting in 2017, though he remains on the books as a casual presenter and producer. The bushfire crisis over the last six months saw Michael presenting many Emergency Broadcasting shifts.
"The decision to retire was really easy to make. At the time my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could," Michael said.
But he does have some concerns about retirement: "The problem with retirement is that you never get a day off" said Michael, a line he admits he stole from his former boss and current breakfast presenter Cameron Marshall.
He undertakes various activities to maintain a steady level of physical and mental fitness.
Running parallel to his working life though, Michael has always had a guitar nearby.
He has played in a number of bands in Sydney and around the country.
"I've played in theatre restaurants, hard rock bands, stage shows, corporate showbands, Beatles and 60s tribute bands, along with currently playing in The Day Trippers - with bass and vocals Dave Smith and drummer Mike Oakley - in venues in and around the Port Macquarie-Hastings area.
A highlight was playing at Circular Quay when Sydney was awarded the 2000 Olympic Games in 1993
"When the announcement was made at 4.30 in the morning, the place went berserk with 40 to 50-thousand people flooded down to the Quay in a jubilant mood as the sun came up; we went onstage to play at a quarter to six in the morning; the euphoria from that gig lasted a week."
Michael has played guitar productions of 'Grease' and 'Spamalot' for the Players Theatre, and hopes to be involved in the upcoming production of the Queen musical, We Will Rock You.
"I started playing guitar in school; music has been a big part of my life - my main passion. If people can find a passion, they are lucky.
"Fortunately I was never dependant on music because I had day jobs. I wanted to enjoy music and not get panicked or stressed about rolling up to gigs for a living.
"Music's been a godsend; I can pursue my passion as I get older and greyer," he said.
Michael is also involved in creating a video for Sea Acres about the TV series Castaway made in Port Macquarie in 1973, which should see light of day this year hopefully
Despite his health scare, and becoming emotional thinking about how his daughter Zoe would cope if he died, Michael says he remains philosophical about his experience.
"I'm not saying I don't want to die, but surprisingly, I realised I wasn't scared of dying either - at least, not last weekend," he said.
"I also thought: what have I done, what have I achieved and what have I not yet done.
"But the big takeaway for me is what a fortunate life I have had."
He will take blood thinners for the rest of life and could experience further DVTs. He will also be wearing compression stockings.
He says everyone should take time to listen to their body and be aware of any changes, no matter how slight.
Specifically, he says, be watchful of swelling that may occur and then disappear in the leg, particularly if you are in the older age bracket.
Now recuperating at home, Michael says he is looking forward to getting back on stage with the boys in the band.
But with COVID-19 seeing all entertainment jobs essentially stopped, The Day Trippers are having a well-earned, and well-timed, break.
You can follow the band on Facebook - search 'day trippers port macquarie' - to find out more about their gigs.
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