My life has had a little more variety since my Heart Attack. I’ve met some interesting people, discovered healthy eating, caught the exercise bug, been educated in control and tried to introduce balance into my life.
This week, I had the honour of attending the North of Scotland Cardiology Conference. The conference was open to all Health Professionals in the Region. There were a number of sessions on prevention and treatment of Heart Conditions throughout the day.
I had been invited along to speak about my “Heart” experiences in a session entitled “A case that has influenced my practise”. I don’t think there was anything particularly special about my case however they were keen to introduce a patient’s view into the room to provide a different perspective on things.
I’ve spoken in front of groups of people lots of times over the years. While I wouldn’t say it’s something particularly enjoy, I don’t mind it. I was happy to “volunteer” when asked if I was interested in speaking at it, although the whole experience turned out to be a bit more nerve-racking than I had anticipated.
The overall Conference Title was “The Patient journey to 2020”, so I decided to speak about my personal life journey, the impact my Heart Attack has had on it, the important role the people in the room have played in it over the past few months, and how important I think it is to keep focusing to the future. While I recognise that it’s important to operate within your limits, I think it’s all too easy for people to become overly cautious and wrap themselves in cotton wool. Having survived a Heart Attack, it’s important that you still live!
I arrived a little early for my session (the last one of the day). I wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught in traffic. I also wanted to make sure I knew the format and what was expected of me.
Upon arrival at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, I was slightly perturbed to discover that the Conference was taking place in the Main Auditorium, a room that seats over 400 people… what the hell had I volunteered for!!!
As it turned out, I arrived a little earlier than anticipated, so I made my way to the back of the Auditorium to listen to the penultimate session of the day entitled “A broken heart. Are women more vulnerable than men?”. (Fortunately the room was relatively sparsely populated… and I recognised a few friendly faces from the Cardiac Rehabilitation team)
There were three cases presented in my session:
- One about a rather head-strong character with diabetes who gave the doctors the run-around for a couple of years before having a triple heart bypass (a happy ending);
- The second about a 46 year old with two young daughters who had a malignant growth in one of his Heart Chambers and fought bravely before his body succumbed to the disease (a very sad ending); and
- Me (a story about a journey that is yet to end).
So, what did I learn in my few minutes at the North of Scotland Cardiology Conference?
- Women are more difficult than men
in relation to diagnosis and treatment of Heart Conditions at least, I’m sure this doesn’t apply in any other situations!
- I really am very lucky
I knew this already, but it’s always good to be reminded!
- I am still capable of standing and speaking to a relatively large audience without my Heart letting me down
I figured this was probably a good crowd to test this out in front of!
- Listen to your doctor’s advice and follow her / his instructions
Thinking you know better is unlikely to positively influence the eventual outcomes
- If you think you have a tough job and have to make difficult, important decisions, you have no idea!
I have so much respect for the Health Professionals who make life and death decisions as a matter of course, day in and day out. It must be so hard to live with the consequences when things don’t work out.
So, I did my little talk and left feeling good about myself but much smaller than I felt when I arrived. I think it did me good. Maybe next time I’ll see if I can attend for the full day!