One year ago today…

At exactly this time (13.07) I was in Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, A&E.

I was being told that I’d had (and was still having) a heart attack.

It was a Friday.

I knew I didn’t feel very well when I woke up, but put the relatively mild symptoms down to a cold, or manflu.

All my joints ached, I felt a bit vomitty, and I was heavily sweating.

Sam and I had had a row the night before, there was still an air of awkwardness in the house, so I went off to work.

By 9.30am my symptoms were unchanged, but I felt so much worse.

I did nothing about it because I had a big meeting at 10.30 with my team and my Director.

Around 10.15 I experienced an extra symptom. I felt as if someone was pushing with all their weight against my chest.

I figured out what was wrong.

I texted Sam that I thought I was having a heart attack and went in to my meeting.

The meeting ended at noon.

Sam had called every phone I have, and emailed every account.

I took my Director aside and said I was very unwell and going home.

I drove home.

Sam met me at the house, and drove me to hospital breaking every speed limit, and driving like she was auditioning for a part in The Sweeney.

At QMC I was hustled through A&E and underwent tests which quickly confirmed my self-diagnosis.

After a four day stay in hospital, an angiogram revealed I had a torn artery – the main artery that feeds blood in to my heart.

This was repaired on the spot through the fitting of a stent, and I went home later that afternoon.

The moral of this story is fourfold:

  1. Don’t be stupid about your job. It’s only a job. Life goes on without it, and the job goes on without you
  2. Look after those who love you, no matter how prickly or how big a pain in the arse they might sometimes be, they might help save your life one day and be a tremendous comfort to you
  3. Look after yourself. The buck stops with you
  4. The NHS saved my life. Please buy a nurse, a doctor, a porter, a surgeon a drink from me

We’re going out this evening to celebrate my Not Deadaversary.

Sam even had a card made up:

Not Deadaversary

Not Deadaversary

Revolution!

Sam is away on business.

She’s supposed to be in Myanmar, before heading on to Vietnam, but Dubai airport was too busy to dock her arriving aircraft, so she missed her connecting flight.

Frankly, Emirates, it’s not much of a connection if the outbound flight won’t wait for passengers who are booked on it, when they’re sitting on another of your flights waiting to dock.

Anyway.

As a result of the Emirates/Dubai airport screw up, Sam has had to spend 24 hours in a Dubai hotel, at Emirates expense, and lose a working day of her itinerary.

Awesome.

Not.

But as you might expect, while the cat’s away the mice will play!

And oh boy has this mouse been playing?

Has he?

*sigh*

No.

This mouse is too diseased to do any playing.

Apart from a brief couple of laps around the village this evening, I haven’t even been up to taking the Ninja out this weekend.

Seriously.

It’s that bad.

There is the possibility that, tomorrow, after doing Prem (who is still called Prem and not yet named Bob), I shall pay a visit to the excellent chippy in the next village.

For some delicious potato-based foodstuff.

And perhaps some vomit Vimto.

If I’m well enough, obv.

But it is the Law of Sod that sayeth that a fine-weathered weekend with a free pass will be frittered away on illness.

Amen.

Anyway, what is this revolution of which you speak, I hear you ask?

It is me, my friends.

I am revolting.

In her absence I am shunning Sam’s instruction to use the dishwasher.

I AM WASHING THE DISHES BY HAND!

Revolution and rebellion are rife in this house.

Er.

Until she gets back,obv.

Crook

When one has spent a significant amount of a 48-hour block of time sitting on the toilet, one’s bottom tends to become, er, numb.

But my concern isn’t that I have eaten precious little since lunchtime Wednesday (which I haven’t).

Or that I have a numb bum (which I have).

My concerning thought is about the barrowload of meds that I take, twice a day, to bed my heart surgery in.

Meds

Meds

For example, have all the internal goings-on affected how the all of the drugs are supposed to be absorbed?

The End of the Road?

Some uncomfortable truths

 

You are dying.

In memoriam

In memoriam

I am dying.

Your nearest and dearest are dying.

We are all dying.

Since the day we were born (some might say ‘since the day we were conceived’) we have all started out on our final journey.

For some of us the mortality end-game comes along a lot sooner than for others.

This year – 2016 – has seen a large number of departures from the field of popular culture.

The fields of TV, film, music, literature, and even pop-academia has seen many notable checkouts from this mortal coil.

Yet it is a sad fact that this unfortunate trend will continue in 2017.

When radio and television popularised itself in the 1960s, and drew in to focus the publicly-driven worlds of social and pop culture, the media was programming us (us being the population of the early 21st Century), for an upward, and steeply increasing, bell-curve of widespread, heart-felt losses.

I predict that 2017 will see far more checkouts from the world of popular culture.

And 2018 many more again.

We don’t know when we’re gong to checkout.

But a brush with the checkout desk changes us.

I have been told that I have become more self-centred.

I offer this without comment.

I acknowledge that I have become more emotional, in a ‘heart on my sleeve’ kind of way.

And I now look at things (people, situations, events) in much greater detail than previously.

This isn’t unusual, apparently.

A significant number of heart attack survivors report heightened, post-event, emotional and critical states.

I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring.

There are plans.

But plans are subject to change.

And I can’t share all of the plans here because secret.

But I can say that I plan on being here all through 2017.

And 2018.

And that I plan on being here far, far in to the future.

I have people to love.

And people to annoy.

And fast motorbikes to ride.

And many, many other plans.

So I’m going to be here.

A little emotional around the edges, maybe.

But I’m still going to be inhabiting this mortal coil.

And loving people.

And annoying others.

So yes, as this post started out saying.

Some uncomfortable truths.

Get used to them.

I’ll see you around.

Busy doing… well, everything really

It is a truth universally acknowledged that…

 

I  have been stupidly busy.

My aspiration to do less remains just that.

An aspiration.

I have many demands on my time, yet the amount of time I have available to service these demands seems to be on a diminishing curve.

Work continues to be busy, which is great.

But being busy at work isn’t helping with the ‘do less’ thing.

Not having horses in my life should be – and is – helping, but I actually found myself looking at a rather tasty 5yo mare last week.

That would be totes bonkers.

*steps away from the horse-buying thought*

Motorbike time has been limited, due to the awful weather.

But I did trundle out and about for three hours on Saturday, in the freezing cold, and as a result I was given this:

Enhanced Rider Certificate

Enhanced Rider Certificate

I think this means that I am now officially licensed to scare professionals, or something.

Actually it means that I am now a Blood Biker.

I have already passed the Controllers training; now I’m able to go out on the bikes too.

Umm.

I have a new guitar.

Well, actually I have almost two new guitars.

After encouragement from top muso and ace bloke Ash, I sent my SG away to be professionally set-up.

It came back, a week later, feeling like a new man guitar.

Seriously, it’s a different guitar, in terms of playability.

But Ash started me looking for another guitar, something with a different neck design, to the SG.

I’ve been looking at Fender Strats, having played one of his.

But after an unplanned visit to a guitar emporium in Leicester, I accidentally bought this:

G&L Legacy

G&L Legacy

The Legacy is a different animal to the SG, and it feels very Fender Strat-y.

But in terms of playability, it’s a significant step up from the SG (even from the newly-feeling, professionally set-up SG).

Unfortunately, the new-and-a-half guitars haven’t lifted my playing ability from the crap zone, but I have got a lot of practice in this week.

I have got a lot of practice in this week because Sam has been in Dubai, UAE; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Yangdon, Myanmar; Bangkok, Thailand; and Saigon, Vietnam.

She’s on her way back from Saigon to Yangdon, then to Dubai, then EMA, then home.

So while she’s been away I have played guitar.

I have also babysat the two rescue kitties and the two rescue kittens.

I have done a bit (not much) of laundry.

And cooked and eaten like a singleton.

And worked.

When not working I have fallen asleep during TV watching.

Actually there’s a topic.

I don’t seem to watch ‘live’ TV any longer.

I have watched the first two episodes of The Grand Tour (or, to give the show its real name: How To Look And Act Like Top Gear Without Actually Calling Yourself Top Gear).

My three word review: Trying too hard.

I fell asleep during both episodes.

I have also successfully fallen asleep during three episodes of The Man In The High Castle.

And an episode of Lucifer.

I quite liked Preacher, and didn’t fall asleep through any of that.

There are other TV programmes that I have fallen asleep through, but their titles have been as memorable as the watching experience(s).

I recently got a Fitbit (there will be a more detailed post about this, soonish).

It is interesting, wearing a piece of medical tech.

I have become slightly addicted to checking my heart rate, but this shows me that I have an odd pattern of fluctuation.

I checked my heart rate before taking the ZX10R out for the three-hour test on Saturday.

90bpm.

I checked my heart rate after the journey up to the Blythe meeting point.

78bpm.

So, when slobbing about at home, my heart rate is higher than yours (probably), but is in the average zone for me.

But, contrastingly, a fairly swift trip in, frankly, some pretty hairy weather, and on one of the world’s most rapid Superbikes, actually lowered my heart rate to what is (probably) average for you, and is below average for me.

All of this is a bit bonkers.

Indeed, sitting here typing this (and watching the Blessed Sandra Bullock in ‘Gravity’ at the same time), my heart rate is currently 99bpm.

Which is also a bit bonkers, obv.

Anyway.

I shall try to be less busy, and make more of an effort to hang around here.

Heart Attack Diary: #11

Getting really emo

 

I thought it was just me.

But a recent foray in to an appropriate group on Facebook gave me a lot of reading on this topic.

There were a large number of posts that informed me that what I’ve been experiencing is ‘normal’.

I watched The Lake House over the weekend, and cried my eyes out.

Not over Keyarnoneenoo’s actoring.

It was the story.

Or possibly the blessed Sandra Bullock.

Either way, I cried like a girl.

It is quite common, apparently, for people who have had a heart attack to be emotionally susceptible.

So that sortov explains why, when I woke up this morning and heard the US news, that I felt so sad.

Cold

My dog’s got no nose.
How does he smell?
Quite fragrant really.

 

One particular side effect of having had a heart attack is the sudden unavailability of OTC medication I had previously taken for granted.

Around Thursday last week I began to notice the onset of some unwanted but seasonal symptoms.

By Friday the cold was in full swing.

In a non swinging kind of way.

Obv.

The sudden sneeze attacks, the gradual opening of the sluices on the upper levels of the River of Snot (leading, with relentlessly efficient rapidity, to the inevitable downward deluge of mucus), and all of these goodnesses accompanied by a cough so violent it could stun an elk at 25 paces.

That kind of full swing.

Normally I would just load up with a perch or two of Paracetamol, take on board a bushel or several of Lemsip, and continue ploughing through my duties like a slightly underpowered ice-breaker.

Except it seems that I have to learn a new ‘normally’, in some areas of life.

Lemsip, for a start, is now a banned substance.

It contains a substance called phenobarbitone (nb, this isn’t the correct ingredient, but it’s the closest to the correct name that the spellchecker on this phone will allow).

Short of, under cover of the darkest of dark evenings, me donning a hoody pulled hard down over my face, slinking in to the village Shell petrol station, and illicitly buying some contraband Lemsip, those particular meds are now just distant memories; the recreational drugs of my recent past.

So too the aforementioned quantities of Paracetamol.

Gone.

Instead I have to grin and bear it (though the discovery of having a sultry young maiden vigorously massage industrial quantities of Vic’s in to my chest, back, and shoulders, led to some unexpectedly pleasurable sensations).

There has been experimentation with some fringey, alternate drugs.

A bucketful of a honey, lemon, brandy combination led to a deep, dreamless sleep.

Not so much drugged, more medicated as a newt.

The chest needs to be kept a close eye on.

I am keeping in practice by becoming ever more familiar with the chest of the most accommodating sultry young maiden.

Hers being easier to study than mine.

Obv.

Anyway, at the first sign of a possible chest infection I have to head straight to the doctor at a rapid canter, so she can throw even more drugs at me.

Something to do with the infection causing all kinds of problems for my already-working-at-full-pelt-post-heart-attack-chest-recovery-unit.

Yes, it’s a thing.

Apparently.

Anyway, as these things do, even though the cold is not a virus, it has spread.

To the unfortunate but still very attractive sultry maiden.

This evening the poor lass is plainly stricken by the same symptoms from which I am still recovering. From.

So tonight I shall apply the honey, lemon, and brandy mix.

And then I shall wait upstairs, ready with the vat of Vic’s.

To her back, shoulders and, of course, chest.

All in the name of medical science.

Obv.

Heart Attack Diary: #10

It’s a small world after all

 

At 2pm this afternoon I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my Cardiac Clinic Follow-up.

The purpose of this particular follow-up clinic is so that the cardiac specialist nurse can check on the health and well-being of the patient, check on the patient’s recovery strategy, and make sure that the meds we have to take aren’t interfering with life, the universe, and everything.

‘Hello chap!’ said a voice.

It was AD (not his real name, obv).

I used to work with AD in my previous job, where he was a senior manager in IT at a FTSE top 10 company.

It turns out that AD had a heart attack on the same day I had mine.

He had a few more stents put in than I.

That two senior managers in IT should have a heart attack on the same day is perhaps not much of a coincidence.

But we both live in Nottingham.

And we both worked for the same company.

Now that’s a bunch of coincidences.

Heart Attack Diary: #9

It’s not all sex, drugs and rock and roll

 

I continue to climb the walls and chomp at the bit.

Although that sounds like a near-impossible piece of multi-tasking.

Anyway.

I feel fine.

I feel ridiculously good.

I am bored rigid.

And yet by the time the early evening comes around, I feel really weary.

Is that an after-effect?

Or is that just me getting knackered towards the end of the day?

I’ve been told that I can no longer donate blood.

This makes me unbelievably sad.

Giving blood has something I’ve been doing for many years.

I know I’m a common as muck O Positive, but that’s not the point.

I’m on the national organ donor’s database.

Which is something.

I keep getting phone calls from Taylor Swift.

I wish she’d just stop.

I know it’s the beard.

And the motorbike.

But Jesus, Taylor, enough is a enough.

Give it a rest eh?

Heart Attack Diary: #8

It’s not just the heat. It’s the drums. The drums and the heat. Make the drums stop, Caruthers. Make the blessed drums stop!

 

I now have three appointments at the cardiology clinic.

They add up to two consecutive afternoons of back-to-back appointment fun.

I’m reading up on all my best jokes to keep the nurses entertained.

They love that.

Erm.

Yesterday, in the company of a work colleague, his partner and her 7yo son (and their mentile as anything dog), I walked five miles along the bank of the River Trent.

We walked around the National Watersports (no, not that kind) Centre for a bit, and then headed along the Trent in towards the Lady Bay Bridge.

I really enjoyed the walk, but we covered the ground much slower than if I’d been flying solo.

I might have a proper crack at that walk tomorrow.

My colleague had (probably) been briefed not to talk about work, so we didn’t. At least we didn’t in any great detail, just one or two generalities.

But we had a little tech chat or two (about non-work things), which was nice.

I have spent some time, over the last week, debugging a hacked website.

Mostly that involved just reading code, and googling some pretty esoteric .php and SQL.

The hacked website (one of mine that I left languishing for the last two years on a shared-by-many GoDaddy server) is now back online.

It’s not only been debugged, but I’ve gone to great pains to harden the security: validate all file permissions, remove the legacy users, put a new user in place with upgraded access requirements, delete the FTP user, migrate the MySQL database to a new MySQL database with a new root user and updated root access.

Then I updated the design, and modernised some of the functionality.

So it might be that the podcast could be making a return appearance.

There are some logistical problems that need to be solved, in order to make a return truly viable, but these are being worked on.

There are a couple of very good security plugins for WordPress now.

I’ve tried the iSecurity plugin, which is quite good, but Wordfence is very much my favourite.

Anyway.

Today I didn’t undertake any significant walking.

But I did take the ZX10R out for the first time since the ‘event’.

I was not reckless.

And was very careful.

My pulse may have quickened slightly when the garage door rolled up and I saw the pristine ZX10 waiting for me in all her Ninja blackness.

And my pulse may have continued to beat slightly quicker as I wheeled the ZX10R out and started her up.

But actually I felt fine.

And I took my pulse rate, just to be sure.

The good news is I haven’t forgotten how to ride a 1,000cc Super Sports Bike.

There is no bad news 😀

I grinned the whole time I was out, though I was only in the saddle for 90 minutes in total (two stops en-route).

And when I came back my pulse rate was unsurprisingly in the 72-74/BPM range, which is my ‘normal’.

So that’s alright then.