This much I know: John Mayhew

By Sarah Daniell

A few words from the Warriors doctor and heart attack survivor.
Dr John Mayhew. Photo / Getty Images
Dr John Mayhew. Photo / Getty Images

I didn't have an epiphany. There were no pearly gates. A psychologist asked me afterwards, if I had seen anything on "the other side" and I said, well, I can make it up if you like. It's disappointing from that point of view.

It hasn't changed my views on life, not in a paradigm sense. But there are practical differences, like not being able to drive for six months. Not to be be dramatic, but it's made me realise how lucky I am to have the support of friends and family.

Have I ever witnessed a miracle? Absolutely. You can give someone who has cancer a prognosis they'll live two years. And some people live 10 years. Jonah Lomu defied the odds. What he was able to do in Test rugby is an example of someone who defied accepted wisdom.

I'm not one to invoke supernatural beliefs. I don't pray. Mum was a Catholic. I guess I'm agnostic.

I find my heart's rest at our beach house in Tutukaka. It's a different world. I won't be able to go diving now.

The thing I love doing is watching sport and reading. They are my vices. Watching my sons play rugby, and my daughter play netball. And wine. I just finished Fahrenheit 451 and I read Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. I loved Saturday, by Ian McEwan. I have five of his books but I get a bit depressed reading them. I'm not sure that's a good idea for someone who's had a near-death experience.

The thing that drives me to distraction is unfairness. The idea of any sort of harm to my family, or injustice in any way, drives me mad.

What is unwell about society? Financial inequality. There are people who can't buy a house or rent. When I graduated I had no money, but I had no debt. But if you are willing to work hard, there are still great opportunities in NZ. We focus on the bad but I work with a lot of young people and they are doing incredibly well.

It's hard, despite being a doctor, to come to terms with some things you see. When I worked in obstetrics, there was a 16-year-old having a baby. No one knew who the father was. There's this healthy, lovely child. You think, what's going to happen? The welfare system doesn't support them. But it's the injustice to the child I think about. There's no social medicine. There are kids not getting fed.

I feel comfortable in both worlds - rugby union and league. There's more analysis in New Zealand of rugby and there's a national crisis if the ABs lose. There's a lot more pressure on them, because they are expected to win every game. It's stressful for the Warriors, but there's not quite the same sense of loss if they lose. New Zealanders are better now; the knives might come out in some media but then talkback, for example, has always thrived on misery.

- Canvas

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