Without the aid of pacemakers, I might not have been here today
LITTLE John Hayworth loves to listen to the tick-tock sound in his dad's chest – it sends him to sleep.
The 23-month-old is too young to understand about his dad's special heart and his three life-saving pacemakers.
But, one day, 54-year-old Michael says he will sit down with his son and share his remarkable story.
"When John was a baby I always knew he could hear the tick," said Michael, a nurse at Royal Derby Hospital.
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"When I was 29, I had to have a pacemaker fitted and my mitral value replaced. When John arrived, I knew he could hear the sound in my chest.
"It soothed him when he was a baby. I suppose it was a comforting rhythm when he laid on me."
Michael, who lives in Hulland Ward, feels lucky to be alive. Without his three pacemakers, things would have been very different.
"I've been told that I might have been quite poorly," he said. "Worse still, I might not be here today.
"My son makes me feel grateful for what I have. He's a live wire, just like I was."
Michael was born in New Zealand and was a "blue" baby. He had a hole in his heart and his mum, who had given birth to twin boys, was warned about his condition.
"It healed quickly and I didn't need surgery," said Michael. "But I couldn't do sport at school. I had a normal childhood and no one really spoke about it."
But, at the age of 29, he became one of the youngest patients in Derby to have a pacemaker fitted.
He noticed that his pulse was slow and went to see the doctor.
"He wasn't concerned at first," said Michael, who lives with wife Ruth.
"He agreed that it was slow, but said I was fit. Two months later I went back. I'd developed a chest infection and I was in severe pain.
"I was sent for an ECG. It's a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. I was told I had total heart block. My natural pacemaker wasn't working properly and I was referred to a cardiologist. He also discovered that the mitral valve in my heart was blocked.
"I'd need two operations – a mitral valve replacement and an external pacemaker fitted."
In total, he has had three pacemakers, saving his life and giving him the time to have his son.
For years, Michael and Ruth tried to have a baby. When they had almost given up hope, Ruth discovered she was pregnant.
"I'm an old dad, but I don't care. We have John and he's amazing. He's wonderful.
"When we wrestle on the floor, he pretends to do CPR on me. He places his hands on top of each other and tries to push on my chest. I've never taught him this and he doesn't know about my heart surgery.
"It's like he knows what to do. Of course, his CPR efforts wouldn't save me because he doesn't have the strength, but it makes me smile. When he's older, I'll tell him all about my special heart."
Michael's first operation was at Glenfield Hospital, in Leicester. He was there for three weeks while surgeons replaced his valve and fitted the pacemaker.
Ten weeks later he was back at work. "It was very straightforward and I felt really well," he said.
But, when one of the wires came loose, Michael was rushed back in for surgery to fix the problem.
That pacemaker lasted until 2006, when doctors found the battery was running low and he needed a new one.
"And then, in 2010, I did it all again," he said. "I'd started to feel a swelling in my breast. I'd developed a small infection and the pacemaker had to be removed again."
This time, Michael's operation took more than eight hours. The pacemaker was replaced and relocated to another part of his chest.
"I have annual check-ups and everything is fine. I can't thank the cardiologist enough. My life wouldn't have been as normal as it has been. I could have been extremely poorly.
"But I've been lucky and having John has been everything to me. We waited a long time to get him and now he's here. He's wonderful."