Category Archives: Heart Attack

Cardiologist says “You’re good to go!”

Today, 235 days after I was discharged from hospital, I had my follow-up Cardiology Check-up.  Having waited for such a long time I had mentally built it up to being a big deal, and I was apprehensive as the time of my appointment approached…

Aren’t hospitals are strange places!  As I ran the gauntlet of smokers alley and approached the Main Entrance, it occurred to me how different this visit was from my last one.  Are there any other buildings where the various users can have such vastly different experiences?  As an individual, each visit can have such dramatically different purposes and impacts; births / deaths, delight / despair, mundane / eventful, excitement / dread, etc..

Fortunately for me, this visit was short and positive.  I had an ECG on arrival, again bringing back memories of my previous visit as my chest was shaved to improve the contact points.  One big difference this time, however, was that everything was a little more relaxed!

After only a few minutes, the Cardiologist was ready to see me.  He reviewed my notes, took my Blood Pressure and asked a few questions:

“Everything’s Perfect!”  Dr, Noman (My Cardiologist)

I took this to mean “Thing’s are as good as they could be.”  Which is also pretty good!

Again, everything was more relaxed, so I had a chance to ask some questions:

Dizziness?  Due to medication.  There are some options, but I am on the optimal dosage and should stick to it if I can.  The best approach is to take my time when getting up (See Golden Rule #1).

Sensations in my chest area?  Consider them normal, as long as it doesn’t feel like I did before I was admitted last time (i.e. as long as I don’t feel like I’m having a Heart Attack!).

Exercise?  To be encouraged, as long as I don’t feel pain in my chest.  Make sure I eat properly to minimise the dizziness.

How hard can I safely exercise?  The drugs should prevent me from going “over the top”, but keep an eye on my Heart Rate (120 is a sensible upper limit). 

My sponsored cycle, 300 miles over four days?  (This prompted a little more thought…)  I hadn’t previously had a Physical Stress Test, so we went back to the images of my Angioplasty.  [I should have realised, but the whole procedure had been recorded.  Not me on the hospital bed being brave, or the attentive staff, but the business end of proceedings (i.e. my Heart).]

My Heart (LAD)

My Heart post insertion of Stents

Last time I saw the images, I had a lot on my mind!  I’ve spent so much time thinking about what’s going on inside me since last June, it was amazing to see them again!

The conclusion was that the damage to my Heart itself was minor and the narrowing of my other arteries was not sufficient to restrict blood flow, so I’m good to go!  So good in fact that there’s no need for any further follow up visits unless something happens at my end.

So, the final “thumbs up”, I can really start training rather than exercising now, as long as I obey the rules…

Golden Rule #3:  Make sure I am properly fuelled before (and while) doing exercise.

Golden Rule #4:  If I feel dizzy while exercising, stop and refer to Golden Rule #3. 

Golden Rule #5:  If I feel chest pains while exercising, STOP!

Falling apart (literally)

Yesterday saw my latest visit to the Doctor’s Surgery.  Unless anything unexpected happens, regular visits are scheduled every three months.  Recent appointments have been spectacularly uneventful, and I’m pleased to report that yesterday’s was too.

The only measure that’s regularly taken is my Blood Pressure, which was “perfect”.  My medications are at the “optimal” level and I feel fine.

Happy and Healthy!

We discussed some minor “issues” that under normal circumstances I wouldn’t give a second thought to, but that take on greater significance having recently experienced a Heart Attack.  Apparently they’re all “normal” too:  Light, but fairly regular nose bleeds are due to the anti-clotting drugs I’m taking, occasional dizziness is due to the artificially low blood pressure, again due to the medication, and the “sensations” in my chest are likely to be a combination of aches from exercise and an overly active imagination, they certainly didn’t appear to cause alarm.

So, it’s all good!

For the past 7 months I’ve been taking care of myself and doing all the things necessary to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle… well, almost!  Until this morning I had not visited a Dentist.  In fact I hadn’t visited a Dentist for a while… a long while.  This morning this oversight (technically more of an avoidance I guess) bit me on the behind!

Having been to the pool for an early morning swim, I was enjoying a breakfast of Muesli and All Bran when one of my teeth disintegrated.  Not so good!

It could have been worse!

As it turns out, I have 29 teeth that appear to be strong and healthy, and 1 that is an absolute basket case.  I wasn’t in pain, but even I could recognise I didn’t have much of an option other than to visit the Dentist.  Fortunately they were able to see me immediately – I don’t know how lucky I am! (apparently)

The good news is it’s just a tooth.  It’s not a hugely prominent one either; it would more naturally feature in the “big cheesy grin” line rather than the “Smile” line.  I have a few days to decide what to do next but this whole “falling apart” thing does take a bit of getting used to.

At least it’s forced me to get all my teeth checked out.  On the plus side, it also allowed me to complete a medical form without having to tell any white lies, in particular about the “Units of alcohol consumed per week”… a big fat zero!

Hopefully this will be the final stage of the healthy new me, and my newly formed support team:  Optician. Dentist. GP. Cardiologist.  Fingers crossed that will suffice… for the time being at least!

Not very Festive

My wife says thinking about Heart Attacks isn’t very Festive.

I agree.

I also think that having a Heart Attack isn’t very Festive.  In fact, I wouldn’t recommend one at any time of the year.  They can be inconvenient.

Unfortunately Christmas is a risky period.  Apparently Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are the three days on which you are most likely to experience a Heart Attack.

I’m no medical expert, but when you read about the contributory factors, there appear to be some fairly basic things you can do to reduce your level of risk:

  • Keep moving:  Make a conscious effort to keep up with your exercise.  Take the dog for a walk.  Go for a swim. Do something.  Don’t let the poor weather or the warm fire stand in your way!
  • Avoid excess:  Enjoy all the trappings of the Festive Fare, but be aware of when enough is enough.  Eating too much places strain on your Heart.  Do not eat and drink so much that you run the risk of “that heartburn feeling” being something other than “heartburn”.
  • Chill out:  Unfortunately the Zen Meditation Book you receive on Christmas Morning is unlikely to be immediately effective in relieving the stresses and strains that the Festive Period can bring.  Create some “me” time.  Maybe a breath of fresh air and a little light exercise?
  • Don’t overdo it!:  Exercise is good, but too much exercise can be dangerous.  For example, (and much to my wife’s annoyance!), shovelling snow is not great for the Heart.  It’s basic stuff, but warm up properly and don’t overdo it!
  • Keep taking the pills:  Keep up your good habits, like taking medication.  Don’t let changes to your routine or environment distract you.
  • Keep warm!

Possibly most importantly… do not ignore the warning signs.  Apparently it is common for people to ignore pain or discomfort, not wanting to “cause a fuss”.  As a result, they wait rather than seeking medical attention.  This can make the difference between life and death.  Don’t!

Reminder of Heart attack symptoms:  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Heart-attack/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

OK.  Sermon over.  Now, where are the Mince Pies?

Seven day hang over

Last Saturday Louise and I were invited to a Christmas Dinner Dance by one of my clients.  It’s an event we’ve enjoyed for the past few years, and has become a highlight of our Social Calendar.  I’d like to say our “busy Social Calendar”, but as the saying goes, we really don’t get out much!

Christmas-PartyThis year the event was a little bit different.  A “Work” Christmas Party without any alcohol was a new experience for me.  Usually I would expect the night to follow a predictable course, with me reaching a comfortable state of inebriation and spending the evening “in the middle of things” (or that’s how it felt!).  It isn’t unheard of for us to be the last to leave the Residents Bar of the hotel following the “after party”… whether we were staying or not!

This time was a bit different.  I drove and stuck to water.  I was going to have an Appletiser as a treat, but the moment never arrived (what a waste of a free bar!).  I spent the evening on the periphery, looking on at all the shenanigans.

Despite not drinking, and slightly to my surprise, I had a good time!  Louise even got me on the dance floor a couple of times!  Another strange experience for me… for some reason my “Dad Dancing” was a bit more sedate and under control than normal, my natural “fluidity” deserted me, but I felt like I fitted in OK.

We even rounded off the evening by leaving at a sensible time… before we were asked to!

***

Annoyingly, I woke up on Sunday morning feeling rubbish.  I had a stonking headache, and felt generally pooped.  Depressingly, I felt like a had a good old-fashioned hang over.  I initially put this down to having had a late night, but as Sunday rolled on I deteriorated.

Since then I have experienced many of the symptoms of flu.

  • A runny nose     Check!
  • A sore throat     Check!
  • Headache     Check!
  • A fever     Check!
  • A cough     Check!
  • Muscle aches and pain     Not so much actually,

imagesCA2QW4WZI had a flu jab a few weeks ago, another first for me.  It’s also another reason why it’s frustrating to get ill.

Despite my illness, I have valiantly battled on all week.  Each day I woke up feeling rubbish, improved a little during the day and then collapsed in the evening.

As a result of feeling rough I didn’t even attempt to exercise last week – the longest time I’ve “rested” since I was in hospital.  I just didn’t feel up to it, and knew it really wasn’t worth pushing myself.

I’m sure there are plenty of exercises and activities that I could have been doing to strengthen my core, or my legs, or other targeted areas, however my focus is primarily on building the strength and endurance of my “engine”.  Without it I’m nothing, and I started from a fairly low starting point.  So, I recognised that I needed to rest, get better, get strong and then get back to it.

***

After a week without exercise and a nagging cold my insides needed a good clean-out!

As the week went on, I slowly progressed through the various stages of the bug, headache, sore throat, cough, runny nose… and after a full day of relaxation yesterday I felt strong enough to get back in the saddle this morning.  I’m still not ready for anything serious, just a few miles on the bike to blow the cobwebs away and ease myself back into it.

About 45 minutes and 15 miles later I was done.  Hot and sweaty, but alive and feeling strong(ish).  An easy session to start a new week in the right way.

I’ve hopefully left enough gas in the tank for the major challenge of the day… some serious Christmas Present shopping.  Wish me luck!

***

It’s all about me

I originally wrote the majority of the following on 28th June, within two weeks of having my Heart Attack.  At the time I wasn’t comfortable publishing it.  A post I recently read, written by the wife of a Heart Attack Survivor (Wherein the Sh*tty-A$$ Heart prevails), reminded me of it.

Life is good for us now.  We’ve come a long way since June.  So, no particular reason for publishing this now, but I thought I’d share it to help complete the story.

***

It’s all about me

Actually it’s not.  Not even remotely.

When everything is going well and life is “tickety-boo”, it too easy (for me at least) to get caught up in my own world.  Oblivious to most of the goings on around me, at least those that don’t impact me directly.  I look after myself, deal with my business, and expect everyone else to deal with theirs.

Up until now, this is how I’ve tended to operate.  It’s how I am.

I don’t feel so independent any more.  My bubble has been burst.  The whole Heart Attack episode has given me a heightened awareness of the many personal dependencies, connections and influences there are in my life.

Of course, there are the children; totally dependent, innocent, scared.  There’s never a good age, but my girls are too young to see their Dad in a hospital bed.  They are too young to have to deal with something like this, I felt terrible for putting them through it.  They have been very brave. They provide support and make us laugh.  Just being around introduces a sense of normality to proceedings.

Louise, my wife is now more of a Nurse, Carer and, of course, Mum.  She holds things together.  She is generally cautiously positive, planning my recuperation and beyond.  I’m sure there are times when she is scared too.  It sounds silly when you write it down, but me dying would have a much bigger impact on her than on me.  I don’t really think about it… she does, a lot.

Then there’s our Family and Friends, Business Partners and Clients.  The news of the Heart Attack will impact each and every one in a slightly different way.  For some the news will generate the biggest impact… Why?  How?.  For others it’ll be the consequences, immediate and longer term… So what?, What now?  What will change?.

After the surprise or even shock, with most people there is genuine concern for me combined with a hint of selfish curiosity; “What could this mean for me?”.  I totally understand.  What else would you expect?  Apparently the 40-somethings are concerned… sales of salads are rocketing in the office.

Even strangers pay more attention than normal.  They want to understand how it could have happened, how can they prevent it from happening to them.  I wish it was simple…

Me:  “I had a Heart Attack because I used to eat 15 Snickers a day.”
Them:  “Oh, that’d do it.”
Me:  “I’ve given up Snickers so I should be fine now.”
Them:  “Oh, that’s a relief!”
Me:  “Do you eat too many Snickers?”
Them:  “No.”
Me:  “So, you should be fine then.  You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Them (Smiling):  “Yes, thanks.”

I wish it was that simple.

It’s tough because there are few easy answers.  I want to be able to get my head around it all.  I want to understand why it happened.  I want to know what the implications are.  I want to be able to explain it to everyone.  Then I want to get back to normal.

Unfortunately that’s not going to happen.  Some things may become clearer in time, others will remain a mystery.  That’s life I guess.

So ultimately it is all about me… but not just me me, it’s about you me, and her me and him me too… it’s all about us!

Dinner suit disaster!

Yesterday we discovered that my wife used to be married to a fat man.  It might sound strange, but it was as much a shock for her as it was for me.

It all happened quite innocently…  a work Dinner Dance offered a rare opportunity to wear my Dinner Suit or, more correctly, one of my Dinner Suits (as I have accumulated several “emergency” suits over the years).

I’ve always thought I looked good in a Dinner Suit too!

I’ve always felt good in a Dinner Suit.  I’ve enjoyed getting dressed up ever since I bought my first one from a Charity Shop to attend my first “Ball” when I was at school.  Yes, it is easy for men; we always get to wear the same outfit, no particular thought is required, and we can accumulate accessories over time.

Generally the key pre-requisites have been to (1) remember to get the suit cleaned after particularly heavy / boisterous nights out and (2) make sure the Dinner Suit is in the right location for the Bash (this has been the primary contributor to me owning multiple suits).  On top of this, there is the concern of whether the suit will still fit – the irregularity that the Dinner Suit is usually donned means it provides a good commentary on the (usually expanding) waistline.

My latest Dinner Suit was my favourite.  A simple, single breasted Ted Baker Suit with a light grey lining.  Nothing special, but it was a good fit and I always felt very comfortable in it.  I looked after it, and it looked after me.

Organised as always, at around midday on the day of the Dinner Dance, I got out my favourite suit for a last minute readiness check.  I knew I had lost some weight but I anticipated a belt or, in the worst case some braces, would be all that was required to make it “fit”.

This used to be a snug fit!

When I tried it on I was shocked!  Louise was shocked!  The suit was HUGE!  How could it ever have fitted me?  It looked absolutely ridiculous!

With growing desperation, I tried on the other suits in the wardrobe… they were all way too big!  Even a made-to-measure suit I had made about 5 years ago, when I thought I was fit was way too big.  A disaster!

It takes a lot to get me to visit a shop, particularly a clothes shop, but even I had to (reluctantly) admit that an emergency visit to the Menswear Shop was required.  Fortunately, thanks to the help of a very understanding Assistant Manager, I found a suit that would meet my immediate need.  It’s not quite my old favourite, but I think he’s history.

Now all that’s left is for me to do is to pluck up the courage to go through the rest of my wardrobe and get rid of the clothes that in all probability I’ll never be able to wear again.  Even packing some of the clothes away “just in case” is too depressing a thought… that would mean all my hard work has been in vain, and wouldn’t augur well for my future health.