Heart Attack Diary: #4

Death by Daytime TV

 

  • Homes Under The Hammer
  • Street Auction
  • Bargain Hunt
  • Jeremy Kyle
  • Loose Women
  • Cowboy Builders
  • The Wright Stuff
  • Four In A Bed (not as exciting as the name implies)
  • Escape To The Country

The list of mediocrity that is Daytime Drudgery TV goes on and on.

Let’s be clear, I haven’t sat through these.

I sampled a couple, briefly, and then hit the off switch before you could say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Thanks, daytime TV, but I’ve had a heart attack, not a brain attack.

Annoyingly I feel fine.

Normal.

Normal for me, obv.

So I’m finding all this ‘slow down, take it easy, do *gentle* exercise, don’t rush, I told you to take it easy, stop doing the washing up, don’t make tea, no really why don’t you bloody take it easy, don’t do the laundry, stop doing that thing now!’ really difficult to cope with.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a good patient.

This one time at band camp RAF Hospital Wegberg, a few days after an emergency admission from my squadron, I slipped out of the ward late at night and went to a disco up the road at RAF Rheindahlen.

I got in to some trouble over that.

Oh, the neighbour’s dog has stopped barking. We had a chat, the neighbour and I, yesterday afternoon.

There’s a tentative offer from me to take the dog for a walk, if that might help?

This hasn’t been taken up yet.

And I had a long phone call from the Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit.

The bottom line is that I have a follow-up appointment, back at the hospital, in a few weeks.

And Ruth, the friend who edited Crossing The Line, has suggested that if I’m bored I could go back to writing, to fill the time.

Which is really nice of her.

But man, I just wish I could be out there *points to out there* doing something.

Heart Attack Diary: #3

Post doc hoc ergo propter hoc

 

The visit to the GP went well.

We discussed many things including (but not limited to) sex, drugs (but not rock and roll), driving, washing up, working, and G-Clamps.

The bottom line is that I’m going to be kicking around the house for a while.

Taking my drugs (of which I have many).

Enjoying gentle exercise.

And attempting to get on to Popmaster (which I smashed today with a first-round score of 24 points, and a game-, set-, and match-winning round two score of 39 points.

And the three-in-ten question was a doddle (for a change).

But my God Zoe Ball is… well… not up to snuff. Come back soon Ken.

The good news is that I can start riding the ZX10R, sensibly, from this weekend.

Though the practical side of my head says that my right wrist is going to start hurting after ten minutes.

Let’s face it, I can’t even type for ten minutes without my wrist starting to give me hell.

Still, I guess I can go ahead and renew the bike’s road tax from the end of this month (yes, I’ve had the Ninja for six months already!).

All I need is a plan to get me through the next few weeks.

*thinks*

Heart Attack Diary: #2

Dogging

 

My neighbour has a dog that barks all day long.

It isn’t continuous.

The dog started barking at 09.15 this morning.

Round about 10.30 it ceased – just long enough for me to hammer the two Popmaster contestants who, unlike me, made it on to Radio 2 – before resuming at 11.15.

Just before noon it stopped barking.

It is now 13.30 and the precious little darling has just started barking again.

The lovely little darling will continue barking, in this fashion, off and on, all afternoon.

There’s nobody home, next door, because they both work.

This asks so many questions.

Who would buy a dog, and leave it alone all day long, while the householders are out at work?

How could anyone even consider this to be a good idea?

And if someone did this thing – and by this I mean if someone had to do this because of a change in circumstances – would you expect them to figure out that the dog would be unhappy, and take action to prevent it?

Especially if a neighbour (that would be me) has told them that their charming little darling barks all day?

Wouldn’t you?

Let’s have some context here.

The neighbours aren’t to know that I’m at home, resting in peace and quiet, after a heart procedure.

But they have been told their dog barks all day.

And they have done the square root of nothing to prevent/mitigate against this.

So what should I do?

  1. Tell them (again) about the all-day barkathon? Or
  2. Just get the RSPCA or Dog’s Trust to come and have a word with them about being responsible owners? Or
  3. Do nothing

Thoughts?

Heart Attack Diary: #1

The Heart Attack Diaries: an occasional series of witterings from the fevered mind of a heart attack survivor

 

So.

I had my cardiac event ten days ago.

And I came home from hospital four and a half days ago.

As two of those days at home were a weekend, when the house was full of girls, those two days don’t count as solo days.

So that’s two and a half days I’ve been home alone.

During the angiogram the surgeons made an incision to the ulnar artery of my right wrist, in order to get to my heart.

The incision didn’t hurt (much), but the radial clamp which is (basically just a plastic G-Clamp) applied with such continual pressure, to heal the incision after surgery, hurt more than the incision.

And still does, FWIW, bizarrely.

Eventually the radial clamp was removed, before I was allowed home, but the list of restrictions – just because of that healing wrist incision – was significant:

  1. No driving
  2. No riding
  3. No washing up
  4. No DIY
  5. No gardening
  6. No work for a week
  7. No pressure of any kind on the right arm and this means
  8. No making tea
  9. No baths (and no swimming, obv)

I’m sure there were others on the ‘do not’ list, but these are just the wrist restrictions that come to mind right now.

BTW, I will get the list of heart attack restrictions from my GP tomorrow.

Lovely.

Anyway, I wish I could say that my two and a half days home alone have been eventful.

But they haven’t.

I’ve been told off a lot for infringing rules 3. and 8.

I was also told off for taking too much exercise.

I have become adept at showering one-handed.

I’ve done a massive amount of thinking.

And I’ve been deeply touched by all the good wishes from friends and work colleagues.

I’ve also been told that I’ve gone stir crazy which, in just two and a half days of recuperation at home, must be some kind of a record.

I’ve also been driving the girls bonkers, but that’s just me.

Or maybe it’s just them.

Anyway.

There may be another Heart Attack Diary tomorrow, after the GPs appointment.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 7

Friday 23rd September

Well, I guess this is the last update against this thread/category.

It’s now Friday and exactly one week, to the hour, that I began experiencing symptoms that would later be diagnosed as a heart attack.

I plead guilty to treating it all so very lightly, right up until 2.30am Wednesday, when I gave myself a stern talking to, and had a long hard think about things.

And about people.

I am humble and grateful for the care and attention that I received from the NHS during my unscheduled hospital stay.

I am equally humble and grateful for the care and attention that I have received from my nearest and dearest over the last week.

This has all been wonderful, brilliant, thought-provoking, and scary, scary, scary.

And I have much to think over.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 6

Thursday 22nd September

I’m home.

My right wrist hurts like hell from the pressure clamp (even though the clamp was removed late yesterday afternoon).

The list of restrictions is longer because of the wrist thing, than because of the heart attack thing.

Bonkers!

The heart attack restrictions are simple. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t drive, don’t ride motorbikes, don’t work.

The wrist restrictions runs to pages, and all involve not doing things that one normally does with one’s right hand.

Flushing the toilet is even on the list.

So to is doing the washing up.

And gardening.

And DIY.

Anyway.

I am home.

Sitting on the settee, gazing longingly at the garage, and the lovely weather, and looking about me at all the jobs I could be doing around the house.

And being unable to do all of them.

Frustrating.

But I am home!

I shall be bored out of my head in 3, 2, 1…

Sheer Heart Attack: update 5

Wednesday 21st September

After a few false starts the angiogram occurred at 09.00 today (Wednesday).

I got bumped off the surgery list a few times, to make way for proper ‘ambulance pulls up outside with blue lights flashing’ emergencies.

Yesterday lunchtime I was brought down from my ward to pre-op, prepped and ready to go, when there were two blue-light emergencies who bumped me back to this morning.

I’m not complaining.

If someone is strolling about their business in a shopping centre, and then they keel over with a heart attack, they obviously take precedence over me!

Anyway.

As I was saying.

I had my angiogram this morning.

It is amazing that this surgical procedure happens.

In a nutshell, they make a very small incision in one’s right wrist, insert a very long catheter-type tube in to the heart cavity, pump a small amount of dye in and view the results, in real-time, on a 58″ monitor.

And the patient is fully conscious throughout (but with a little injected help to assist with keeping calm).

Unfortunately I couldn’t see much of the display, because the angles weren’t favourable, but there was quite a lot of chat between the various folk in theatre, which was interesting.

The heart is fed by three arteries; one main and two subsidiaries, but they each have a key role to play.

My main artery and right-hand subsidiary were both fine and healthy, but my left artery had a tear in it.

Unfortunately, the human body being what it is, my blood cells were trying to stem the damage from this tear, and in so doing had narrowed the artery, and restricted the flow of blood.

Silly buggers.

After a bit of a chat, the surgeons decided that they would be able to fix things then and there.

So they did.

Through the catheter-like tube they inserted a tiny piece of metal (called a ‘stent’), and manoeuvred the stent in to position where the narrowing was occurring.

Then they inserted, in to the stent, a tiny balloon, which they inflated, pushing the stent in to the right size and shape  for the artery.

The balloon was then deflated and removed, and the stent was embedded in place.

Then they removed the catheter and stone me, I was done!

A plastic wrist-clamp was put on the incision, and tightened to a seriously painful level, to close the wound.

And I was wheeled back in to recovery, a repaired man.

The relief?

I can’t even begin to describe the relief.

At 2.30 this morning I had a massive self-inflicted knock-back.

It was an internal monologue, along the lines of Ian’s earlier comments, but with Sam’s words thrown in.

The bottom line is that I told myself that things have to change.

So I sit here on my ward bed, at 4pm on the day I have had, let’s be honest, heart surgery.

And I’m so lucky.

And grateful.

And I know these things.

I don’t know how my life is going to change, but there will undoubtedly be changes.

And if you want another person’s perspective to the last few days, Sam wrote a very touching blog post here.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 4

Monday 19th September

The morning started off usually, with the BP and temperature obs, followed by a cup of NHS-T (see what I did there?)

Breakfast, by the way, is a couple of weetabix and two rounds of toast.

And a handful of tablets that do various things to my blood and to my heart.

Until I have the angiogram nobody actually knows what damage (if any) has been done to my heart, what remedial action (if any) needs to occur, and how long I need to have for recuperation.

So I am unable to answer any of the usual questions to which people want answers.

And I include myself in that ‘people’ category.

The nurse I saw earlier from the cardigan cardiac rehabilitation unit said that I should expect to be signed off for up to four weeks.

This was obviously a shock, but then I realised that she – like me – doesn’t know what the specialist is likely to say; doesn’t know what my angiogram results will show.

Managing my expectations, obv.

A complicating administrative factor in all this hoo hah is that I haven’t yet registered with a GP practice local to home.

I’m still registered with one in Rugby.

So we are trying to get me transferred to a local GP while I’m still in hospital.

When I say ‘we’ I mean that Sam is helping; she came armed with many forms for me to fill in this evening.

In other news, I am bored.

More bored than I was yesterday.

I have spent much of the day reading helpful articles on ‘How to restore a classic motorbike’.

Sam’s Triumph 3TA might be in line for some long overdue remedial work, if it’s not too careful!

Anyway, boredom aside, let’s talk about the angiogram.

I have no idea when it’s going to happen.

It was hoped that I would have one today, but there have been emergency admissions over the weekend.

Yes, I know that I was an emergency admission on Friday, but these others have been severe emergency admissions.

Those folk who got admitted over the weekend haven’t been in the ‘not terribly emergency admissions’ category, such as I was.

So it is now Monday evening – fast approaching 9pm – and I’m ready for bed and ready for sleep.

Sam’s been to bother me again and it was lovely to see her, even though it has been less than 24 hours since I saw her last.

She amused me with cat anecdotes.

These are tales of the Rescue Kitties slaughtering most of the wildlife in the village and neighbouring farmland/countryside, last night.

Bless the cute little murdering darlings.

She says they miss me.

Miss me clearing up the corpses of the fallen critters, more like.

But I miss them.

I want to go home.

The cardiac rehab nurse, when she was here earlier, made me set goals.

Reduce my hours, work in a more controlled environment, work from home at least one day a week, lose some of the stress.

But the thing is any of those things would reduce the job that I do from what it is – from what I love doing – to something else.

Something smaller.

Something less fulfilling.

And I’m not sure if I want do a ‘less’ job.

Maybe, if I need to think about ‘managing’ my health better, just maybe it’s time to start thinking about working differently.

I don’t know what differently looks like.

Not yet.

But perhaps now is the time to start thinking about what it could look like.

Perhaps.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 3

Sunday 18th September
I wake at 4am.

There’s a Bonnie Rait song that seems to have moved in to my head.

I could do with a hot chocolate but make do with a small bottle of water.

My work phone has some messages on it.

I consider emailing the recruitment consultant who has lined up two candidates for me to interview for a vacancy.

After thought, I decide not to.

There could be someone who might deputise for me.

We need to fill that vacant post, it’s getting urgent.

I plug my iPod in, in an attempt to evict the Bonnie Rait earworm.

No sex for four weeks!

No ZX10R for possibly the same amount of time!

And no work for who knows how long!

I would normally be devastated by any one of these, but to have to face up to all three at the same time?

That’s just cruel.

Oddly, the iPod seems to be laying a level of musical work over, but not quite masking Bonnie Rait.

I google who wrote ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ and am astounded to see it was co-written by Mike Reid.

But relieved to learn it wasn’t that Mike Reid.

Nor the other one.

Elbow has a good crack at driving the Bonnie Rait song out.

But I find myself wanting to wave my phone in the air and sing along to One Day Like This.

Probably not a good idea.

I have had a tremendous amount of good wishes from Twitter and FB.

Try to sleep.

Later in the morning I meet the Cardiac Registrar.

He lays it out for me.

I have had a heart attack (so all thought that I’d had a mere ‘warning’, or had a vagina angina attack have been put to bed).

It wasn’t a ‘lucky to be alive’ heart attack though; it was less serious than that.

So on Monday (or on Tuesday, or on Wednesday – depending on backlogs and things) I’m going to have an angiogram.

And if they find heart damage that needs attention, I will also have an angioplasty.

And then, probably the next day, they’ll let me go home.

How long I stay at home (which means how long I have to rest, and how long before I can drive), will be determined by what the angiogram reveals.

There need to be questions asked about what I do about work in the long term, but right now I just want to get home.

Time passes.

Sam has been brilliant.

She came to see me again this afternoon, bringing many supplies and treats.

I don’t want the supplies and treats.

I just want to see her.

She still looks tired.

I want to go home.

I’m bored and I want my bed and I want my family and I want my cats.

I’m going to watch an episode of Buffy, then I’ll shower, watch a film, have my 10pm meds and then try to sleep.

Sleep isn’t coming as easily as it could.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 2

Saturday 17th September
After breakfast a cardiac specialist rocks up with a cardiac nurse.

They’re very jolly types and I immediately like them.

The last couple of heart traces have been good, but the blood test results weren’t brilliant.

I resist the urge to say I’ll try harder next time.

I’m going to be transferred to the Trent Cardiac Unit over at Nottingham City Hospital.

I’ll have more detailed tests there.

And an angiogram.

There may be an operation, if the angiogram finds things that need to be attended.

A couple of hours later I’m moved to Nottingham City Hospital.

The Trent Cardiac Unit is a totally different experience to Ward B at QMC.

For the better.

I text my Director to update her.

Her reply is full of concern.

There are other enquiring texts and voicemails from colleagues who knew that I’d gone home feeling unwell late on Friday morning.

I respond, but I’m wondering how and who I can get to cover the meetings I have on Monday if I’m not allowed home tomorrow?

Sam arrives with many things of goodness for me.

She’s spoiling me so much.

She looks tired.

A nurse arrives to check me in.

This procedure includes a test of my mental powers.

I don’t know if the purpose of the test is to see if I have any mental damage, or just to see if I’m an idiot.

I think I pass.

Later Sam and I go out for a walk around the hospital grounds and Oh My Goodness it’s so good to get out for some fresh air.

As we walk and talk I wonder where my Will is, and try to remember whether I’ve signed the latest version that arrived from my solicitor a few weeks ago.

Sam has been googling heart attack stuff.

She tells me how long I’m likely to be off work and frankly I am absolutely horrified.

She tells me how long it is before I’m likely to be allowed to ride the ZX10R and this news stuns me.

She tells me that I won’t be allowed to have sex for four weeks and the news devastates me.

Four weeks!

I may as well become a nun or something.

Later, during a nursing shift change, I ask about the angiogram that I’m due on Monday.

The incoming nurse expresses surprise.

She feels that it is more likely that I’ll be having the angiogram on Tuesday. Or possibly on Wednesday.

I begin to feel that time is slipping away from me.

Later Sam asks me if my situation could have been brought on by the hotel fire klaxon.

I’m not sure, but I do recall a prescient Facebook post I wrote after the alarm, whilst I was trying, unsuccessfully, to sleep again.

Sam goes home.

There are tears.

I fall asleep watching Live, Die, Repeat.