Saturday, 1 June 2013

So, tell me what happened.....Heart Attack Part 1

Since my heart attack I've heard these words so many times.  From friends, nurses, my GP, the surgeon, consultants, the cardio rehab team..... and if I'm being honest my friends the answer is 'not very much'.  

My heart attack was not of the dramatic kind. It took it's lead from it's victims personality; it didn't make too much fuss; it was level headed, quite understated, and just got on with it.  It was not a chest clutching, knee dropping, word gasping event and it certainly wouldn't have made good viewing on any TV soap opera.  In actual fact it was quite the opposite and has been described by my husband as 'very graceful'!

So, what did happen?  Well, after seeing the New Year in at home with the kids (we had a take-away, watched Dante's Peak and  played charades just to pass the time - boy do we know how to party since becoming parents!), we were all lazing around in our PJ's on New Years Day.  Come 12 noon I was very half heartedly contemplating getting showered and dressed and wondering what to rustle up for lunch.

Suddenly, (and this is the only dramatic thing about the whole event), a great big wave of 'feeling really ill' washed over me.  By the time I'd said to Mark 'I don't feel well', I had a pressure pain in my chest right in the the middle of my boobs.  Funnily enough a sixth sense told me I was having a heart attack but of course as this couldn't possibly be true I got up and went to the kitchen for a couple of Rennies. By the time I walked back into the room my left arm felt like a bag of cement and I knew for sure what was happening.  

I sat down, calmly told Mark I thought I was having a heart attack and to ring an ambulance. But before he did I asked him if he knew how to do CPR.  'Not really' was his reply, so I gave him instructions just in case - did I mention I was level-headed?  Mark was beginning to look worried but I'm sure the fact that Amy and Thomas promptly nominated themselves for resuscitation duties and set about practising on each other, was of some comfort to him.

Ambulance rang, we sat and waited for it to arrive. Thomas and Amy had quite got the hang of CPR within a couple of minutes and 'Staying Alive' rang out loud and clear at Number 38.  But truth be told as calm as I seemed, I was becoming more agitated.  The pain in my chest was actually bearable but the pain in my arm was horrific.  The crew arrived within 15 minutes, not as quickly as I thought to be honest, but considering it was New Years Day, they had to get over a ridiculous amount of road humps to get to us and they'd been drafted in from Leeds so didn't know the area, I think on reflection it probably wasn't too bad a response time. And the emergency services had rung back meantime to see how I was getting on.

I was wired up pretty sharpish and within a couple of minutes was told I had indeed had a heart attack. The official diagnosis sent me into a complete panic.  I was 45 years old, I had 2 kids and I wasn't ready to die.  I also had the most bizarre thought considering what was happening -  I hadn't shaved my legs since Boxing Day and I was about to go into hospital.

I was given an aspirin and a nitroglycerin tablet and within minutes felt pretty much back to normal. Those two little tablets were miraculous.  No chest or arm pain, in fact I felt perfectly well again and questioned whether I really needed to go to hospital at all.  (Mentally, the hairs on my legs had now grown from a slight stubble to gorilla length).  The two ambulance ladies quite rightly insisted on wrapping me up, strapped me into a wheelchair and bundled me into the back of the ambulance where we waited to be told which hospital to go to. Luckily Wythenshawe, the nearest one to us, could take me so off we set.

I do remember thinking on the way how surreal the whole thing was.  It was New Years Day, I'd had a heart attack and I was being rushed to hospital down the M62 with sirens blaring. 

We were met at the hospital doors by the surgeon and a male nurse brandishing a defibrillator.  Both were rather handsome and I was really beginning to worry about my hairy legs now.  The nurse holding the defibrillator looked quite young and a little gung-ho so I made sure I talked to him all the way up to pre-op.  I didn't want him thinking my lack of communication meant I needed jump-starting.

I arrived in pre-op and that's where the fun really started.  I'm finally willing to admit I wasn't the best patient in there, nerves had kicked in big time by now, but more of that to come later.

                                               * * *

Over the next few weeks I'm going to write about the treatment, the physical and mental after effects of a heart attack and the job of trying to get back to a normal way of life.  I hope some of it helps people who've experienced the same thing.



  1. This answered all my comments in post one!

  2. That's the scariest thing, there were no warning signs and I was just sat there minding my own business. It took a long time for me to stop constantly thinking 'any minute now it could happen again'. And by a long time I think probably only the past few months. Some days it doesn't even cross my mind and that in itself is a relief. Thinking you could die any minute is really quite stressful in itself lol. xx