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Recovery Going Well

Anyone of us, including you reading this, could be in their grave by Friday. That’s a very sobering thought! For life is fragile and can literally change in a heartbeat.

My father was 65 when he dropped dead of a heart attack on a Monday and was lowered into his earthly grave the following Friday. When I took my heart attack on New Years Day this year, which happened to be on a Monday, I survived and on the Friday I walked out of the hospital and was driven home. Like the film ‘Sliding Doors’ that Monday could have ended so differently for me, and that wasn’t lost as I left the hospital with tears blinding my eyes with gratitude that I was still here and given another opportunity.

As I wrote in a previous blog The NHS Saved My Life On New Years Day there was a moment, as I was lowered back onto the theatre table in the CathLab, that I realised I could die during that procedure. In those moments the greatest peace I ever experienced in my life swept over me. As I lay there, fully awake, I could only surrender into the hands of the surgeon and his team as they did what they could to save my life. That peace was so great that it also touched my soul in the knowing that if I were to die, I would have nothing to fear. I share this with you because I have never felt close to the end as I did that day. Most people I know never experience such a moment in their lives, but when it comes it does change you forever and hopefully for the better.

In the days and weeks that followed, processing what happened took a lot of time and energy. I can remember lying on my hospital bed, going over what had happened and wondering what my future would hold, at times emotional and crying, at other times contented and at peace that I was still here. Yet, amid all that I was feeling I was determined to see what happened on New Years Day as a blessing and not one of the darkest days of my life. You might think I’m nuts with what I’m about to write here but – I’m thankful for what happened that day because it saved my life and I sense it has altered it for the better.

People who came to see me in the hospital and at home in the days and weeks that followed, were surprised at how well I was looking in the aftermath of what had taken place. When I looked at myself in the mirror it looked as though nothing had happened until I went to do the smallest of tasks. Like a car that had lost the power of its turbo, I found myself limited in how far I could walk, how much I could do as I battled complete exhaustion. The trauma of having a heart attack takes some time to get over, but day by day you slowly get stronger both mentally and physically.

In February I had to undergo a second procedure for three hours in which a very experienced cardiologist went in through my wrist and with a drill bored through a calcified artery that they had discovered on New Years Day as they were removing the blood-clot from my heart. The arteries around your heart are not as big as I had imagined and are about as wide as the ink-cartridge of a bic-pen. It was very surreal lying there and feeling the vibration of a drill operating inside your heart as a surgeon talks away to you while he’s watching the live-feed images of your heart on the screen before him.

 The cardiology consultants and nurses that have treated me ever since have been amazing. Their care and support have helped me come to a point where the heart pain has greatly subsided and is expected to cease once the inflammation from having two procedures all settles. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of aftermath care is the team who work with me in cardiology rehab, for they have been very attentive and are always available should I need to talk to one of them. They are also great for bridging the medical side between myself and the surgeons who are dealing with my case. From struggling to walk a short distance on that Friday when I left the hospital, I am now able to walk several miles with little difficulty and all my major vitals in terms of blood pressure, pulse rates and bloods are all within the normal range for a man of my age.

Perhaps the greatest change since the heart-attack has been a realignment in life’s priorities. For things that once seemed important, they are not that important any longer. Aspects of my life and relationships that I should have taken much more care of have now become greater priorities. For the rest of my life, I have the little scars on my wrist that will forever remind me of what happened, what could have ended so differently and to appreciate all that truly matters in life.

People have been so kind to me with messages on my social media accounts and cards and gifts delivered to my home. Such acts of kindness meant a lot and really helped in my recovery, none more so than the prayers people offered for me and the masses that were said, for in the darkest days after my heart-attack I felt lifted and carried by them. So, if you are reading this and wrote to me or reached out to me, thank you from the bottom of my heart, because it showed that you cared. x

My recovery is going well, and four months after that day I can see the changes and the progress that has taken place. As someone who dabbles in a bit of writing now and again, I can only do what I know best and that is to write about my experiences in the hope that someone somewhere finds them of use or comfort, and perhaps it might even save someone’s life one day by raising awareness to never ignore chest or jaw pain.

Until next time,

Damian (who will never look at a bic-pen in the same way again.)


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