Category Archives: Illness

Anger Management

I used to get angry, very angry.  I could get disproportionately angry at little things.  I could feel the frustration growing in my belly, bubbling up inside.

I didn’t ever really have mechanism for venting my feelings. Some people shout, others slam doors or hit things.  One of my former bosses had an elaborate array of ways to express his anger, all unpleasant and highly visible.  He had proper grown up temper tantrums.  I just used to get wound up and moan at people close to me, people that really didn’t deserve it.

My frustration would fester throughout the day, re-emerging every time I thought about the triggers.  I’d regularly get home in a bad mood, and have a drink to help “chill out”.

Angry? Me?

I had a run-in with someone about 48 hours before my Heart Attack.  A short, bad tempered interaction that left me fizzing.  I was busy, trying to juggle too many things.  We had a difference of opinion that quickly got heated.  I’m not sure if, in itself, it was that exceptional an event.  However, it’s significance increased when I ended up in hospital having undergone a Cardiac Procedure.

The individual actually sent me an email the following Monday, about 24 hours after my Heart Attack, wanting to continue our “discussion”.  I just apologised and told him he was right.  I was wrong.

Since my Heart Attack things have been different.  I don’t see the Red Mist in the way I used to.  I just don’t get the feelings in my stomach that I used to.  I seem to find it much easier to let things go, to move on.

I have recently read a few articles on the detrimental health impacts of anger.  It certainly couldn’t have helped me.  Whether it was a symptom or a cause of my Heart Disease, things seem to have changed for me since last summer.  I don’t know exactly why, but there are at least three factors that may have contributed to this change:

  1. Medication:  My medication keeps my blood pressure artificially low.  Would this influence how I would react to frustrations or not?  Perhaps it’s just a positive psychological factor.
  2. Exercise:  I am doing a lot more exercise which itself helps to relieve tension and stress.  My regular sessions perhaps help dissipate any latent frustration so I just don’t get the build-up that I used to.
  3. Perspective:  The Heart Attack provided a me with a different scale of what’s important and what’s not.  Some of the things that used to wind me up make me cringe thinking about them.

I’m assuming that I still generally get myself into similar situations as I used to.  The world didn’t suddenly become cleansed of unfairness, free of idiots or clear of ignorance.  Things still wind me up (all too frequently I’m afraid), they just don’t have the same short or long term effect on me.


So in summary, I concur with the view that anger is bad for your health.  Personally, I feel much better without so much of it in my life!

Things that go bump in the night

What is happening to me!?  I’m beginning to feel like I’m featuring in a low budget sitcom, being exposed to life’s “amusing” twists and turns.  You’ve got to laugh! (I’m not sure what the alternative would be!).

Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

Yesterday’s tooth trauma was followed up by an even more comical middle of the night incident…

Since the Heart Attack I have been prone to dizziness when I stand up too quickly.  Usually this means feeling a bit wobbly, a sensation that typically passes in a few seconds.  However, on two occasions now, middle of the night bathroom visits have resulted in comedy collisions.

One of the problems is that it’s only after I have started moving that the dizziness hits – It takes a couple of seconds to kick in.  During these night incidents, I’ve been able to maintain my balance, my momentum and my course.  Unfortunately however I lose my bearings, my perspective and as it tends to be dark, my vision.  The net effect is that I keep walking until one of the following happens:

  1. I regain full consciousness and control; or
  2. I hit something.

Unfortunately our bedroom is not that large!  So, option 2 it tends to be,

The first time this happened I had a minor collision with a door frame.  Nothing serious, Quickly forgotten.

Last night, however, it was a large, heavy bookshelf that interrupted my night-time stroll.  From what I can piece together, I hit it with three parts of my body almost simultaneously.  My head, my right hand and my left foot.  I managed to dislodge something sharp and then proceed to stand on it.  Quite hard.

I’m sure it would have looked hilarious on camera. By this time I was disorientated, in pain and bleeding profusely from the underside of my big toe.

On the positive side, it was a huge relief to Louise that the ruckus was not directly Heart related.  The last time we had a night time “incident” the outcome was a little more traumatic.  (See Father’s Day (Approx. 00:30))

To cut a slightly long story short, I ended up in A&E (Accident & Emergency) first thing this morning being checked out and patched up.  Fortunately Louise’s night-time treatment using Daughter #1’s “Foot Treatment Kit” was spot on.

This little piggy went to market…

While flip flops are likely to be my preferred form of footwear for the next few days, there shouldn’t be any lasting damage.

Golden Rule #1:  Stand still for 5 seconds after standing up to allow any dizziness to disperse.

Golden Rule #2:  Don’t drink cups of tea within an hour of going to bed.

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!


Not news, but I’m feeling good

I’ve realised that I have a tendency to write about days when I’m not feeling great.  Sorry!  I guess it’s a way of sharing my thoughts… I am still very much in the “coming to terms” phase of being a Heart Attack Survivor.  There are a lot of new things that go with it; medication, dietary control, regular exercise, anxieties (my own and other people’s) etc. etc.  I guess illness is one of the more worrying!

images (8)

Well, I’m pleased to report that for the past few days I’ve been feeling good!  I feel like I’ve fully recovered from whatever was hanging over me.  All signs of malaise and tiredness have gone.  All is good with the world!

I guess one of the reasons feeling under the weather is newsworthy is that I’ve been feeling good most of the time since I left hospital.  I recognise that’s a good thing… just not newsworthy.

I did a couple of good rides over the weekend.  Having struggled during exercise generally last week, it was great to get back in the saddle and resume my training.

On Saturday we went over 25 miles for the first time.  There’s a long way to get up to the distances I’ll need to cover during my Charity Ride, but it feels more doable now, particularly as my recovery is getting much faster as well.


This week sees my first business trip since the Heart Attack.  In fact, I’m sitting in my hotel room as I speak, having successfully negotiated the tricky drive from Manchester to Lancaster.  The drive was built up as a potentially treacherous route (people have been known to go missing for days attempting it), but it turned out to be fairly straightforward.

Travel has been a feature of my work life for as long as I can remember.  This trip requires a short return flight and two nights away.  Absolutely run of the mill under normal circumstances, but normal circumstances went out of the window a while ago!  So it’ll be good to get it out of the way.  Another “first” ticked off the list!

Not today’s destination I’m afraid…
maybe next time!

I’m also pleased to report that my Stents do not set the Security Alarms off at the Airport (at least not on this occasion!).  Another relief!  Happy days!  🙂

Candy Crushed

I’d describe myself over the past few days as being “Candy Crushed”.  After a hectic and highly enjoyable weekend I’ve been wiped out over the past couple of days.  Not ill as such, but  under the weather.

images (6)I went on the bike on Monday and really struggled.  It may be partly due to the calibration of the Turbo Trainer, or a hangover from the weekend (figurative only!), but I could only manage a short session, and much lighter than I’ve been doing.  (I’m sure you’ll all be glad that I listened to my body and have been taking it easy!)

It turns out that people at work have been feeling similar.  Not ill but worn out.  Some of their symptoms match how I tend to feel on a day to day basis – a little light headed and slightly out of it (Welcome to my world!).  They’ve also experienced a sore throat and other symptoms which I won’t go into.  So I’ve maybe got off lightly!

It’s the first time I’ve felt ill since I was ill, so it’s all been a bit strange.  The immediate reaction is to worry that everything’s heart related… Had I made a mistake with my medication?  Surely I hadn’t overdone it at the weekend!  Is there something new wrong with me?  etc. etc.   Even if it’s not my heart, it must figure in the equation somewhere.  I guess it’s all part of the rehabilitation process.  Part of living.

Anyway, I’ve been taking it easy.  I’ve had a few days rest from the bike and I’m starting to feel a bit stronger again.

untitled (35)In my downtime, Daughter No. 2 introduced me to Candy Crush for the first time.  If you’ve not seen it, it’s a highly addictive electronic game (or Phone App), a little Solitaire on Steroids.  The kind of game that I personally find hard to put down once I’ve picked it up.  So, I’ve spent the past few evenings feeling a little sorry for myself, immersed in a fantasy land of exploding Candy (Sweets).

I’m sure I’m very late to the party, but it doesn’t look like I’m the only one… see “Candy Crush Is like Crack”.

I can’t wait until I can get back onto the bike properly and focus my energy on something a bit more constructive!  Happy days!

Over 40 Health Check

There have been a number of stories in the UK Press recently about the value (or lack thereof) in “Over 40 Health Checks” (example  Given my recent experiences, I feel that I should have an opinion on this.


Cheeky! It tends to be too cold in Aberdeen for this sort of nonsense!

The argument for the tests is that the programme could prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes, avoid at least 650 premature deaths, prevent over 4,000 new cases of diabetes and detect 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease earlier.

The argument against is based on the fact that most people who need the test the most are the least likely to volunteer.  As a result, people that are perhaps lower risk go through the stress of the tests and may get offered medication they don’t necessarily need.  The money could perhaps be spent targeting higher risk groups for more direct interventions.

I’ve had a few days to think about this, and I’ve struggled to reach a conclusion.

From a personal perspective, I have never had a test, and wasn’t planning on getting one in the near future.  If I had undergone the test a few days before my Heart Attack, what would it have told me?

untitled (28)I suspect my Cholesterol would have been high, and I would have been told I would benefit from losing some weight.  Maybe it could have told me more, but we would have been dealing with degrees of risk (as far as the Heart Attack was concerned anyway) rather than absolute certainties.  The tests may have been more conclusive.

Who knows?!  I didn’t give it a try.

Having survived my Heart Attack it’s easy to forget the fact that 1 in 3 people in the same situation don’t even make it to hospital.  Avoiding Heart Attacks is a very good thing!

I’m not sure what would have prompted me to take the test in the first place.  I guess that’s the bigger issue.  Perhaps I’m missing the fact that I was one of the difficult to reach, high risk individuals!

Given the tests are available, if you’re over 40, I would suggest you take a deep breath and get yourself checked out.  You don’t have an excuse for not doing it… I’ve told you to!  We can leave it to the policy makers to worry about whether it’s good value for money or not.

Health Check

Back to School

I have never had 4 weeks off work.  I had an extended break when I became independent, but I’ve never returned to the same role after more than 3 weeks of away.

I’ve had 3 week vacations twice; once for our honeymoon and once for a family trip to St Lucia.  Both were fantastic breaks, much needed and thoroughly enjoyable.  Special times.  I know it sounds silly, but 3 weeks is so much more than 2 weeks, as far as holidays are concerned anyway (I would highly recommend it!).

4 weeks is a long time!

Can you remember what you were doing on 14th June?  No, neither can I!

To compound things, I hadn’t exactly planned to be off work.  I hadn’t wound anything down, handed anything over or prepared in any way.  I just didn’t turn up on the Monday.  Yes, there are extenuating circumstances, but life has to move on.

So, it’s back to school for me tomorrow;  my clothes are laid out, shoes polished,  pencils sharpened, lucky stress ball looked out (ironically in the shape of a heart!), bag packed.  Everyone’s a little bit on edge.  Ready to move on.  Uneasy about what the future holds.

I’m sure everything will be fine.  One way or another it’s going to be more than a little bit strange, for me and everyone else around me.  Another journey into the unknown.

Onwards and upwards!  Wish me luck!

Am I in denial?

“The books” say that it is normal to experience psychological issues following a heart event… relief, worry, fear, anger, anxiety, dread, depression.

I feel fine.

Am I in denial?

“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
– George R R Martin, A Game of Thrones

This is a big question, so I started by looking online for guidance…

I was amazed to discover that it’s possible to perform one of many Popular Denial Quizzes!!!  Somehow it seems reasonable to have “Denial Quizzes”, but this is a serious matter and adding the word “Popular” trivialises it somehow.  Anyway, after some time I discovered:

  1. Yes, I am really over her  (Are you really over him / her?)
  2. I am “Quite Normal”  (How insane are you?)
  3. I’m in “Acceptance”  (What stage of sorrow are you?)
  4. My soul shines “Red”  (What colour light does your soul shine?)

  5. Sorry… No more!  I’m losing the will to live, and not feeling like I’m getting closer to an answer… please feel free to explore the other quizzes and let me know if I missed anything insightful!

The thing is, I don’t feel like I’ve been through anything particularly major.

Yes, I know having a Heart Attack is a big deal.  If someone I know had been through the same experience I would be concerned for them.  I have first-hand experience of this – I think my feelings were a little pity and a little fear.  For them, not for me.

Am I in denial?

“The thing about denial is that it doesn’t feel like denial when it’s going on.”
– Georgina kleege, Sight Unseen

I was ill for a couple of hours – the time between having the Heart Attack and completion of the angioplasty procedure.  I was clearly at risk before this (and definitely in denial at that stage!).

I didn’t need to have an Operation.  There were no stitches.  At no point were any procedures performed on me while I was unconscious.  I was able to play my own (very small) role as and when required to do so.

It might sound strange, but I wasn’t scared.  Uncomfortable, yes.  In distress.  But I didn’t feel like I was particularly in danger.

Am I in denial?

“Denial is an essential part of my existence. Without it, I am nothing.”
– Jason Krumbine, Just Dial 911 for Assistance

Am I now more aware of my mortality?  Probably, but it’s not a new concept for me.

I think about things… a lot.  I think about what the future might hold – bad as well as good.  I don’t obsess about it, just think from time to time.  I guess I’ve always worked on the basis that thinking through lots of potential scenarios will make me better prepared when something does happen – like having a Heart Attack, for example.  For me, it was a shock but not a huge surprise.

For most of us we will never know when we faced our greatest risk.  These moments pass, leaving us safe and blissfully ignorant.

Am I in denial?

“I wasn’t crying about mothers,” he said rather indignantly. “I was crying because I can’t get my shadow to stick on. Besides, I wasn’t crying.”
– J M Barrie, Peter Pan

I have Coronary Heart Disease.  I always will.  As a result I have a higher risk of having heart problems in the future.  However, the medication I take, and a living healthy lifestyle, will help prevent it inconveniencing me, but I know I’ll never be “cured”.

There is nothing I can do about the choices I made in the past.  As far as I’m concerned my health is down to me and the choices I make in the future.

Am I in denial?

“Everything was perfectly healthy and normal here in Denial Land.”
– Jim Butcher, Cold Days

I feel good.  I feel strong.  I am sleeping well.  I am really looking forward to the Rehab sessions so I can set some new goals and start to build a new routine.  I feel ready to return to work.

I have already made changes.  I am ready to make more.

The more people I talk to or hear about the more I realise how lucky I am.  There are lots of people in far worse positions than me.


Personally, I don’t think I am in denial, but I would wouldn’t I!