It was in the early morning hours when Wayne Maxwell awoke in bed to what he thought was bad indigestion.
"I felt uncomfortable, but tried to go back to sleep."
He dozed off thinking he'd come right in time and there was nothing to worry about.
Four hours later, as the sun was starting to rise, he rolled over and the nagging discomfort started again.
His wife Amarjit, who had noted he had been wriggling around, asked if he was okay, to which he replied he was feeling a bit off colour.
Later he would learn that "the symptoms I was experiencing didn't match the severity of what was happening".
She looked at her husband, thought he didn't look right, so went online for some health advice.
But then Wayne, 57, started feeling slight pain along the inside of his arms so she immediately rang Healthline before they connected her to Wellington Free Ambulance.
Within a short space of time two women paramedics were in their Paraparaumu home and had hooked Wayne up to medical equipment to get some health readings.
"One of them looked up to me and said 'you are having a heart attack'."
The confronting assessment triggered a wave of emotions including feeling he had let people down.
Wayne, who is chief executive of Kāpiti Coast District Council, which employs over 400 staff, was driven to Wellington Hospital, with pads on his chest in case he needed to be shocked, and taken straight into an operating theatre where two stents were inserted into an artery in his heart.
Analysis showed an artery at the back of his heart had become blocked, but he was lucky because if it had been a front artery, which is more critical, things could have been worse.
He spent two days in the hospital before being discharged early and sent home to recover with a lot to digest mentally and physically.
"I'm on some pretty strong tablets for the rest of my life, but they did say there was no reason why I shouldn't have a perfectly normal life going forward."
Wayne doesn't smoke, drink alcohol much, and eats well, but he realised he hadn't been exercising much and his job involved stress at times.
And while he can't control hereditary history of heart issues – his father had a heart attack – he can control aspects of his life.
Daily walks are part of his routine now, especially along the beach, and he wears a smartwatch that tracks his heart rate and exercise.
He's enjoying getting into the habit of exercising and remembered how much he loved doing it when he was younger.
Yes his job offers challenges, but "if I don't look after myself then I'm just making excuses".
"There's a bit of a joke around work that my colleagues better bring walking shoes because our meetings will be out walking.
"I'm not contemplating it, but it's an interesting idea," he said with a grin.
Wayne has had six weeks to switch off from work, but also to think about council staff who had a lot on their plate especially in the lead-up to Christmas.
"I've got to do everything I can to make this organisation a place where people can feel happy when they're here and can keep a balance to their lives."
Wayne, who is back at work and is a picture of health, was humbled by the support from family, friends and work colleagues.
"People are awesome.
"I've really appreciated the genuinely warm greetings I've had from staff and friends."
He's especially indebted to his wife for her quick actions on that Sunday, December 12 morning.
"According to ambulance staff, and we're not overstating it, but my wife saved my life."
While it's not in his nature to highlight what happened to him, he was happy to chat when approached by the newspaper, especially if it helped save someone from a similar life-threatening situation.
Last year his brother-in-law had prostate cancer, caught it early, spoke about it to work colleagues via a short video, and as a result a colleague went for a checkup, found he, too, had cancer, and was saved.
Wayne, who had high praise for Wellington Free Ambulance and hospital staff, encouraged people to "pay attention to your body".
"Shortness of breath is normally when you're absolutely knackered after a long run, you've overcooked it and you're sucking it in.
"What is shortness of breath on an everyday basis though?
"I realised that I've got a steep drive, I'd take the bins down, but walking back up the driveway completely knackered me and I would have to stop and get my breath back.
"I just put it down to being unfit, but should have thought a bit more seriously about it.
"If you're seeing these things build up, what's the harm of getting yourself checked out?"
Don't be afraid to tell others how you're feeling and keep a good work-life balance in mind too, he said.
"Is it really worth putting all that stuff off until tomorrow?"