Tag Archives: Recuperation

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!

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!

An athlete’s pulse and “little” walks (FD +13)

The drugs are working.

The combination of medication has reduced my blood pressure (to a “perfect” level) and also reduced my pulse to under 60 while resting… “an athlete’s pulse” according to the community nurse… unfortunately an athlete on performance enhancing drugs.

Not my heartbeatThe medication is laying the foundation for my recovery, and for my future health.  Some of it reduces the work my heart needs to do.  Other pills reduce the “stickiness” of my blood and the arteries, reducing the chances of plaque build-up and / or blockage in the future.

While a major component of my recovery, medication alone is not enough.  I also need to get myself fit and healthy.  The first goal has to be to get back to some sort of physical normality (whatever that means now?!).

Physical recovery initially meant small, slightly humiliating steps.  “Little” walks, twice a day.  Five minutes to start with.  Under supervision.  Wrapped in lots of rest.  The bruise on my wrist, a constant reminder not to push too hard too soon.

So far, supervisors have been willing… well mostly!  Our little walks have given us a chance to catch up on the events of the day, to get some air into our lungs, or to plan the day ahead, while monitoring my condition – breathing, heart rate, signs of fatigue or distress (none to report to date!).


We do not typically dress or walk like this

We do a minute extra each day to build strength and stamina.  This challenges us to find new, longer routes… how many times a day can you walk past someone’s house before it starts to become impolite?

I’m pleased to report that I should graduate from “little” walks to walks on Monday (we have decided 20 minutes is the official threshold).  Hopefully the supervision will continue to be keen despite the exercise “upgrade”.  I won’t need it forever… in time I’m hoping to be able to leave the house on my own… in time!

Should I stay or should I go? (FD +2)

I was at the point where I wanted to go home, return to some sort of normality, but slightly concerned it may be a little early. What would happen if something went wrong?  Will I be tempted to do too much?  Will we all cope without the nurses?

untitled (3)The one test I still had to have was the Heart Echo – critical as it’d provide an insight on how much permanent damage had been done to my heart.

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long… my number came up first, just as my toast and marmalade was being polished off.

It was strange being able to see my “broken” heart working away inside me.  I knew they were measuring different dimensions, capacities, throughput rates, pressures, etc. I could see everything on the monitor, but I had absolutely no idea what anything meant.

imagesCA3T6FW3I couldn’t stop thinking of people I’ve known at work that were “OK” at their jobs, or new to their roles, learning as they went.

It felt to me like the Sonographer had quite an important role for me at that point in time.  I hoped she was good!

I didn’t have to wait long for the results…

The diagnosis was that the permanent damage was  low to intermediate, “to be expected” apparently.   This meant that I would not be able to drive for 4 weeks (there was an outside chance it could have been only 1) and, if I wanted, I could leave hospital today… but leaving tomorrow was fine too.  My call…

Right… decisions… (I’m getting out of practice!)

  1. If I can, I will stay an extra night.  This will give us all time to get our heads around the idea of having a cardiac patient in our house
  2. Given it’s 4 weeks till I can drive, I may as well tie-in my return to work.  It had been bothering me.  Initially, the tendency was towards “the sooner the better”, but I don’t have to rush and I want to be able to do a proper job when I return.  I could start after a couple of weeks, but who knows what shape I’d be in.  Being able to commit to a date is important.  14th July it is!

Having made the decision, I’m told they need the bed.

“We need the bed.  Could you leave today?”
“Oh, OK.”
“This afternoon would be good.”
“Oh, OK.”

I texted Louise.  Much excitement (panic?!).  Arrangements to be made (school pick-up, snacks, etc.).  As soon as everything had been sorted…

“It’s alright.  I’ve spoken to the doctor.  You are staying another night.”
“Oh, OK”

Thank goodness for SMS and understanding relatives!

Carlsberg Recuperation

If Carlsberg* did Recuperations, they’d probably be the best Recuperations in the world…

  • Royal Ascot (18/6-22/6)
  • British Lions Tests (22/6 – 6/7)
  • Champions Trophy Final (23/6)
  • Wimbledon (24/6 – 7/7)
  • Tour de France ((29/6 – 21/7)
  • British Grand Prix (30/6)
  • Ashes (10/7 – 25/8)
  • The Open (18/7 – 21/7)

Timing is everything!

* No alcohol will be involved in this Recuperation.