Can’t think of a title, so I’m making one up

I finished my cardiac rehab program a last week…amongst other things I’m now a master in laughing at old people doing thai chi.

But on the more serious side, I found it to be worthwhile and if nothing else, it’s got me back into exercise, which I was very nervous about doing. I mean how long should you exercise for after a heart attack? How much can you exercise? I wouldn’t have a clue (and I’d be terrified) of doing too much and making myself have another heart attack. So it was beneficial for me to at least do some of that whilst I was supervised and my pulse was being taken every few mins.

I tentatively got back on the treadmill last week – I barely managed 5 mins – but slow and steady is the name of the game.

One thing that did come out of the rehab program is that they said I’m showing signs of high anxiety and stress. Which isn’t exactly unusual after what I’ve been through, but they think some of it could be attributed to some underlying problems.

I told them about a few things in past (which I’m not sure I’ve wrote about on here or not) such as being stabbed and my mum passing away not long after (about 10 years ago). Neither of which I’ve never really talked about to anyone. Then adding to the heart issue, they said having no one close over here to talk to probably isn’t helpful as I don’t have a ‘support network’ (although even back in UK I didn’t speak to my ‘close’ friends or family about how I was feeling). But the long and short of it, is that they have referred me to a psychologist.

I sent an email back to my family and told them this and my brother phoned me (for the first time in the 2 years I’ve been in Australia) asking me what was wrong. I think he thought if I’d been referred to a psychologist it meant I was about to top myself…it took a while to convince him otherwise!

I’m very indifferent about going to see someone though. I don’t feel like I need to, but it’s also not the first time someone has told me I should talk to someone, so maybe it’ll do some good. What’s the worst that can happen?

But fuck all that nonsense off, for now. It’s Thursday, the sun is shining and I’m going to see The Prodigy tonight. As the Kool Kidz would say…BOOM!

Living

I’m going back into work on Monday…after being off for the past seven weeks.  Seven weeks!  Thankfully I’m going back three days a week for the rest of the month so I’ll be taking it easy…and making the most of being able to say no to things for a while.

“I can’t do that, I’ve got to take it easy…doctors orders” will become my most used phrase.

The cardiologist I seen this week said he has no concerns at the minute, not even that I feel my heart flutter/do a mini jump a few times a day – which is a bit unnerving when it happens – but he wasn’t bothered about it so it must be normal.  I go to see him again in three months to do a shit load more tests when he’ll be able to tell if the heart has repaired itself.

On top of adjusting to my heart being a bit rubbish, I went to see the hand surgeon again on Monday and I need to have a second operation on my wrist. Last years surgery didn’t work.  So he’s cutting me open again and doing some other ‘bone graft attached to blood vessels’ thing in my wrist next month. Joy of joys.

Although I feel good in myself, I could do with going out and getting shit-faced, but I can’t.  Like the rest of the world, I’ve been advised against “binge drinking”, but in my situation having more than a couple could course problems at the minute. “Everything in moderation: a couple of units are ok”…which I translate to: it’s not even worth it. I’d drink them before the barmaid had had a chance to give me back my change.  Weekends just aren’t the same…but I’ll be back!

Before Christmas, when I’d send an email to the family in the UK telling them I’d done something brilliant over here, I’d always sign off ‘living the dream’.  Now I’m just signing off with an alive/dead status: “Living…”

Yes, I am that funny.

(I realise that last paragraph doesn’t fit in with anything else in this post, but sod it. It just popped into my head and made me laugh).

Recovering, slowly but surely

So nearly three weeks after the heart attack I’m recovering, slowly but surely.  I’m still a bit out of breath doing simple stuff…walking around or going up stairs is hard work if I go quicker than my heart will let me – but that’s only to be expected at the minute.  I’m off work for another 2 weeks then I’ll probably look at easing back into work (maybe part-time hours for a few weeks).

My blood test results came back and they were all clear…so there’s sod all wrong with me. I’m literally that person you read about where someone has a heart attack and no one knows why.

Just to complicate things on top of all the heart stuff – I need to go back and see the hand surgeon in a couple of weeks (I’ll probably need another operation on that bone in my wrist because it hasn’t healed)!  Work have been good with me though and my boss said they’d be ok with me working around whatever I need to do.

I start cardiac rehab tomorrow so hopefully that’ll help my recovery too.  Maybe I’ll make some new friends there…Edna and Stan will invite me to Bingo nights (or whatever old heart attack people do).

All the consultants, doctors and nurses keep telling me I’ll start feeling a bit down about the heart attack and part of the rehab is to get you to speak to someone about it all.  I can’t see myself feeling down about it…I haven’t been thinking about it in a depressing ‘why me’ way at all.  I’ve been very blasé about it (apparently it’s common for people of similar age to be blasé).  But I’ll just go with it and take what they offer…every little helps I suppose and it’s there for a reason.

The way I look at it is that I’ve fell off my bike.  I just need to get up, brush myself off and, with the stabilisers attached for a while, carry on.

That wasn’t part of the plan

I didn’t make it to Brisbane, Fraser Island or Whitsundays.  Our planned road trip didn’t happen.  I didn’t even make it out of Sydney airport.  Instead, I spent four days in hospital.

When we got to the airport I started to feel nauseous and because I’d drank quite a bit over new year I put it down to a hangover.  I couldn’t remember the last time I was sick from a hangover but these things happen, so I didn’t think much of it.

After checking in, I vomited again and thinking that was the last of it we went to our departure gate…to find out our plane had been delayed by 2 hours.   Then I had to vomit again and it all started.

I had sweat pouring off me and I was dizzy, nauseous and had some pains in my chest and after being in the toilet for about 20 minutes eventually made myself get up, find my friend and find some first aid as I knew something was up.  

My friend thought I was having a panic attack due to the plane being delayed and we’d been rushing about earlier to get to the airport.  I wasn’t convinced, but whilst I was sat with the first aid person I was getting worse, I was short of breath, the pains weren’t going away, I was still nauseous and even with an oxygen mask on I was struggling to breathe – so they called an ambulance. 

The ambulance came and they hooked me up to an ECG and took me to hospital.  Once I got there, the first couple of doctors said to me that I was showing signs of a heart attack, but “it can’t be a heart attack, you’re too young, fit, healthy etc”. They thought it was an inflammation/virus of the sack around the heart – like a flu virus – so they done more tests; ECGs, echos, ultrasounds, ultrascans…everything. 

Eventually another cardiologist came in and stood there with about 8 people around him waiting to whisk me away.  They were going to do a angioplasty procedure to rule out a heart attack.  They took me upstairs to the cardiologist unit and slapped some resuscitation pads on me “in case you do anything silly during the procedure”. 

They gave me a local anaesthetic and they cut into my groin and sent a tube up to have a look at the arteries.  Whilst they were doing that they found I had a blood clot in one of the main arteries of my heart – which they cleared and put a stent in the artery to keep it open.  I was awake whilst they were doing this and felt them doing it inside of me – even heard my heart monitor stop for a second too.

The blood clot had caused me to have a heart attack.  

The doctors still don’t know why it happened.  They’re still waiting on results of blood tests to see if I’m prone to blood clots.  My blood pressure and cholesterol levels were a bit higher than normal but not remarkable so.  The doctor said that nothing I’ve done in the past or have done caused this to happen.  It was all in my genes and it was like this from when I was born, it’s just been waiting to happen and I was lucky it happened when it did (with people around/close to hospital etc).  If that plane hadn’t have been delayed and I’d been on the plane, he said I wouldn’t have made it to Brisbane.  

I’m back home now and I will make a full recovery.  I’ve already been out and about for a few (very) slow walks.  I’m like a pensioner at the minute and I’m wondering if I can nab one of them mobility scooters from somewhere (I’d love a go on one of them).  But aside from all the tablets I need to take I’ve got to go and see a cardiologist in a month and to attend a cardiac rehabilitation program for 6 weeks (starting next week).  Have just been told to take it easy for the next 4-6 weeks – and as long as I don’t exert myself I’ll be fine.   I’ve got to reduce the risk of it happening again, so I’m off the booze for the foreseeable future (if not indefinitely).  The doctor said I couldn’t have sex for two weeks, to which I replied “that’s ok, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, it’s all the same”.  He didn’t find it as funny as me.

I’m just relieved it happened when my friend was here, she’s been amazing and I don’t know what I would’ve done if she hadn’t have been around.  We’ve got the same sense of humour, so we’ve found the humour in everything – from me off my face on morphine in the ER, to walking around like a pensioner.  When something like this happens it makes you realise how far away from family and friends you are.

Because it’s so rare for this to happen to someone of my age, the doctors have took my charts to use to teach other doctors and they’ve also put me on a research program as well.

I still haven’t got my head around it yet, but it’s all been very surreal week.  I’m 33 years old, no history of health/heart problems, relatively fit and healthy and I’ve had a heart attack.  It just goes to show, it could happen to anyone, at any time.

It’s time to put my feet up and get through a shitload of movies and TV.  What a start to 2013.