When infomercial queen Suzanne Paul woke up after fainting during a Zoom call, it was typical of her to think that she had just been on the floor playing with her dog Matty.
“I thought for a minute, ‘What am I doing down here? It’s not very comfortable – oh, I must have been playing with Matty,’” says Suzanne, recounting her blackout.
“There couldn’t have been anything wrong with me because I’m one of those people who has a cast-iron British constitution and I never get colds, coughs or the flu.”
On September 22, Suzanne had been doing a motivational talk to 250 people for 50 minutes on Zoom when things started going horribly wrong.
“I have no memory of it now, but apparently I face-planted onto my desk in the middle of talking, and was down there for a few seconds before I sat back up and said, ‘Now, where was I?’ Then my eyes rolled back in my head and I went backwards right off the chair.”
Suzanne is laughing as she tells this story, but while it was happening, she was very scared.
“Ryman Healthcare, who I was doing the speech for, thought I was having a stroke, so they switched the Zoom off and started trying to get in touch with me on the phone.”
Suzanne woke up on the floor after a few minutes and found her phone. It was ringing, but she had set it on silent while she did her talk.
“I said, ‘Oh, hello, I don’t know what happened there, where has everybody gone? I think my computer has gone off, so let’s carry on, shall we?’ All they could say was please call an ambulance.”
Suzanne’s fiancé Patrick Kuhtze was outside in his office, so had no idea what was going on inside the house.
Finally, Suzanne agreed to ring an ambulance and she was off to hospital, without Patrick because of Covid restrictions in Auckland.
“I was still in the emergency room when I got a message from Anthony Ray [Suzanne’s former co-host on the TV show Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?], who lives in the States, saying, ‘OMG, how are you? I just heard you had collapsed.’ The jungle drums were going off.”
Suzanne spent two days in hospital and was diagnosed with very low blood pressure, high cholesterol and a leaky heart valve.
Meanwhile, social media went into overdrive with false reports of Suzanne’s illness, including a cancer diagnosis, which was awful for her family and friends to read, or she had Covid, or that she had just had the Covid vaccination and was having an extreme reaction. None of which were true, but Patrick spent days online at home while Suzanne was in hospital attempting to put out the facts, and call and message all the friends and family who had got in touch from all over the world.
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