Friday, 19 August 2016


Today has been a good day - I've been to my cardiologist appointment and I'm happy to say that he has discharged me.  My heart function and exercise capacity are normal for a person of my age, and although there is a small narrowing of arteries at the very bottom of the left side of my heart they don't really put me at risk, and should be stable on medication.  No need for any further treatment and the prognosis is good as long as I keep taking the tablets, and making the lifestyle changes needed for good cardiovascular health.   I am very relieved, and hopefully this will give me the confidence to start feeling more like a normal person as I'm not technically a cardiology patient any more.

 I've still got 5 more sessions of rehab left - good news today on that front too as they are not running the rehab sessions in the bank holiday week which also happens to be the week when I'm on holiday so I will be able to have all 10 sessions, as I can do the two sessions when I get back.  It will be lovely to finish at the same time as those that started with me - although I doubt I'll see many of them again, the camaraderie at the sessions has been lovely.  I will be sad when it finishes as I've enjoyed it.  There are lots of reluctant people doing the rehab, but I'm definitely not one of them, and I can now jog for a full minute, which I couldn't do before I had the heart attack!

The challenge for me will be to have the determination to make the lifestyle changes needed.  There will be increasing demands on my time, as things get back to normal and it is my job to ensure that I don't get into that mess again!  Regular exercise and spa sessions I think will be part of it, and I will be hopefully getting some free slimming world sessions and 3 months gym membership as part of a scheme running at the local leisure centre.

S and the boys are very pleased - I think this is quite a milestone for them, although the boys just think it means we can go abroad on holiday rather than being limited to the UK due to travel insurance issues!  Time to get looking at holidays and see where we might like to go!

Well, I think I will enjoy a glass of fizz tonight.... Cheers!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

They tried to make me go to rehab I said yes, yes YES

I guess it is fairly obvious from the reduction in frequency of my posts that life is getting busy!  Thins seem to be going well, and I'm hoping that when I see the cardiologist on Friday he will discharge me, and that things are looking good for the future.  I've still got a lot of work to do to address some of the lifestyle issues that got me in this mess, but I'm working on it - slowly.  I think I do need to up the ante a bit and improve my diet and also put a plan in place for continuing the exercise started in the cardiac rehab classes.

I've been really impressed with the cardiac rehab - it has definitely done what I wanted it to do in terms of giving me the confidence to exercise and get out of breath.  My bp has generally been behaving itself and my heart rate has been really good.  It is slightly lower than it would normally be due to the beta blocker, so my maximum heart rate for exercise is slightly lower than it would otherwise be.  I've met some really nice people all going through similar experiences - some have had heart attacks like me, others have needed bypass surgery, valve replacements and some are learning to live with things like heart muscle spasms.  What has surprised me is that all are capable of some sort of exercise, and all seem to improve as the sessions go by.  What has also surprised me is I can now jog for a minute!  That doesn't sound like much but I definitely couldn't do that before I had the heart attack.  I'm going to miss the camaraderie of it when it finishes. 

We do 2 circuits with 10 stations per circuit.  We warm up and cool down and we work at each station for a minute.  Some are much easier than others, but what one person finds easy others find hard and vice versa.  My nemesis is the one where I have to step forward and lift a 3kg ball above my head repeatedly for a minute - my arms kill at the end of that minute.  I find the stepper ups my heart rate more than most of the other exercises.  I'm on level 3 exercises for most things now after starting at level 1.  All of the exercises can be done at home and don't require expensive equipment, which I think is a really good idea.  

I've been doing a lot of walking around too - some of that is playing Pokemon Go, which I have got myself addicted to, but also taking the boys for bike rides to the common.  Hopefully I'll be allowed to get my bike out after talking to the consultant on Friday!  I'll report back then... Fingers crossed some fizz will be in order and I can put this scary episode even further behind me.  

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Channelling my inner lazy b&*tard!

I could get used to this phased return lark.  4 hours work and the rest of the day at my leisure until the kids get back from their holiday club with S.   Today I planned it so that I went back to bed after they left this morning at 8, and had a blissful 2 hour lie in.  Then spent an hour playing Pokemon and Sim City and surfing Facebook and BBC sport to find out what has been happening in the Olympics.   We seem to be doing rather well in the medal haul - we won gold in the Mens 3m synchronised diving, which was amazing to watch - how they manage to negotiate all of those twists and tumbles before going into the water is just incredible.  Many of the divers are quite easy on the eye too....  

I'm now in the middle of my 4 hours work for today, and just taking a break.  Today I'm finding lazy very appealing indeed...  not really my forte usually but I was tired after the first 3 days of this week (combination of starting work, perhaps doing a bit too much in the time I'm not working, unlike today, and not sleeping brilliantly), and this morning I felt really up for a lazy day.  Of course being a mum, I have sorted out the kitchen, put the dishwasher on, done some of the washing and drying, tidied up... 

Tomorrow I will be half way through my cardiac rehab - it is going well, although we are struggling to find things that get my heart rate up enough at the moment - I'm upping the level I'm working at each time but it is only the stepper that gets my heart rate over 100, so another increase in level on the rest of the exercises tomorrow.  At this rate I'll be running by the end of the programme, and I couldn't do that before.  

After the cardiac rehab tomorrow I am going to have my eyes tested and hopefully get some new glasses as I'm not keen on the frames I have at the moment and I'm really hoping I can find some that I like the look of.  I generally hate wearing glasses and I think I look rubbish in them - I wish I was one of those people that could rock the speccy look, but I think they just make me look old and fat.  I am old and fat, but I don't think they do me any favours lets say...

Right, back onto report writing for the rest of the afternoon, and then chaos will resume in the house when the boys get back - they want to go for a bike ride this evening, but it will depend on if we have time.  

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Back to work! Weeks 1 and 2

I am back at work!  On a very gentle phased return to start off with - I can't believe how wonderful everyone at work has been, and how much they are supporting me.  I feel very lucky, as I'm sure not all bosses or employers are like that.  I am finding starting back quite tiring, but I have been told that this is entirely normal after doing bugger all for so long.

I'm also on Week 2 of cardiac rehab - twice a week I'm in the hospital gym for an hour and then have a talk to go to about lifestyle/heart related issues.  So far so good and I'm responding well to the exercise.  There is a real mix of people there - from people who have had heart attacks, bypass surgery, valve replacements, to those with problems brought on by muscle spasms, and genetically high cholesterol.  It is interesting talking to people who have been through similar things, and I think somehow therapeutic, and I realise that I am one of the lucky ones - some of the people there are still quite unwell, whereas I'm pretty much fine.  My heart function and exercise tolerance is normal for my age after the heart attack so my treatment now is more about lifestyle management and learning to cope properly with stress.

I think I can do more exercise wise than I did before, I'm now jogging for a minute - and I don't think I could do that before!  Sounds pathetic but I have to build up slowly, but I couldn't run/jog at all before I was ill.  Maybe I'll be taking up running.... my karate is under threat as I'm not allowed to do any of the contact because of the meds I'm on.  I'm on blood thinners so bleed/bruise easily and therefore it is best for me to avoid things that cause me to bruise/bleed where I can!

My boss summed up my situation beautifully when we met for our return to work chat - it is clear that I have a lot of stress and a lot of demands on my time, and in the past I've just muddled through and the things that I have sacrificed have all been things for me - so I didn't go out, I snatched meals/snacks through the day as and when I can, I didn't make time to exercise. So basically I tried to take care of everything/everyone else whilst not taking care of me - and that had detrimental effects on my health.  But... as she says, the things I do to take care of myself are the foundation on which the rest of the stuff is built - i.e. they enable me to take care of everyone/everything.  I totally get that but I think some of the changes I need to make will be hard at first, mainly on other people as they will need to support me.  She is much wiser than I think she knows.... and lovely with it.

Ah well... so tomorrow I am working from home writing reports - should be a nice chilled day.  Perhaps also catch a few Pokemon!  Oh yes, I am thoroughly addicted to that game, but it does make going for walks a lot more interesting - I find just walking for the hell of it quite boring, so having something to do is good. Today I caught my first wild Pikachu - very cute...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Not dead yet!

I haven't blogged here for a little while - it suddenly occurred to me this morning that if anyone who doesn't know me in real life has been reading my updates, they might just put 2 and 2 together and get 5 and assume the worst has happened.   But... I'm not dead yet!  Nor am I nearly dead in any way shape or form.  I am absolutely fine - I started to feel like I was boring people by blogging every day, so took a small break from it, but now I feel like putting some more of my thoughts etc out there, drivel or not.  So perhaps a crisis of blogging confidence.

Also, I have been busy, there is quite a lot to report since I last posted.  

I had an echocardiogram on 15th July, and an Exercise Tolerance Test where the cardiac nurses tried to kill me with exercise.   I did feel like I was dying at the end, but not for any heart-related reason.  I managed 9 minutes on the treadmill, with the speed and incline going up every couple of minutes.  I was proud of myself for keeping going - it was scary as I was afraid that something bad could happen, like a bit of angina, or even worse another heart attack.  But everything seemed to pass smoothly.  I was very disgruntled by the fact that they couldn't tell me anything at all about how I'd done, or what they found on the echocardiogram, as I was expecting more information to be forthcoming, but that has to wait until I see the consultant on 19th August. 

In the meantime I've been allowed to start on the cardiac rehabilitation programme.  I had my pre-assessment today, and had to give my consent to being made to exercise twice a week for 5 weeks.  I start the actual programme next Wednesday.  

In many of my earlier posts I think I mention twinges and the psychological worries that occur when you get any kind of pain between your chin and your belly button.  I had an adventure to A&E last Friday after the twinge in my shoulder that I've had a few times before persisted, and I couldn't be sure it wasn't heart related.  As my anxiety levels were soaring I decided (with help from S) that going to A&E and getting checked out was the best way forward.  So I had a heart trace done, bp checked - it was high but I was feeling anxious so they let me off.  The trace was fine, and they examined my shoulder and I have a 'wear and tear' injury to the joint. It has a very long name, but that is basically the crux of it.  The good news is all of those twinges I was having are from that, and are not heart related.  I felt a bit of a hypochondriac as normally that level of pain wouldn't get me near a doctor, but I couldn't take the risk.  Thankfully the doctor at the hospital agreed I had done the right thing, and equally thankfully, despite it being late on a Friday afternoon with York Races going on, A&E was relatively quiet.

So basically I am doing fine, things are progressing.  The biggest deal is probably that I am starting back at work on Monday, on a phased return.  I'm waiting for contact from Occupational Health which should happen in the next few days, but I have a phased return plan that I worked out with the Cardiac Rehab nurse and hopefully they will be ok with that.  I'm half looking forward to being back at work (I love my job and my colleagues basically) but half of me is a little apprehensive.  

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Plantar Fasciitis

So my lovely podiatrist confirmed that the reason I have pain in my heel is most likely due to plantar fasciitis, basically inflammation of the ligament that runs across the base of the foot.  I have had it before, really badly and this is mild in comparison, and thankfully I've caught it early.  So I am now sporting some attractive bright blue strapping on my left foot (I chose the blue strapping as it is M's favourite colour), as well as having beautifully soft looked-after feet!  

I also now have tidy eyebrows... not particularly bushy as is the fashion at the moment, and certainly not drawn on!  OMG I have such a problem with drawn on eyebrows - some seem to be drawing on really dark thick lines where their eyebrows should be and it is really distracting!  I find I talk to the brows and not the person which is really rude but I can't take my eyes off them. 

Tomorrow's activity is a trip to the Nuffield Hospital, to have my forgotten hand looked at.  I say forgotten because 3 weeks prior to the heart attack I had surgery to relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left hand.  I was supposed to go and get it checked about 5 weeks ago, and wasn't able to make it.   Hopefully all will be well with that, but frankly it has become the least of my worries hence the forgotten tag...   Actually the scar still hurts at times but I suspect that that is normal.

Just watching politics on TV - weird times with Labour imploding, and we have a new Tory PM as of tomorrow, which will be interesting.  A female PM - I just hope that she is more compassionate and less right wing than I get the impression she is.  She certainly seems formidable - I wouldn't want to cross her and get the Theresa May Death Stare.  I wonder how things will turn out.  Will we indeed Brexit (hopefully not), will the Labour party split in two?  Will UKIP disappear now that Farage is stepping down (hopefully), and what is going to happen to our economy?  The NHS clearly needs more resources, as does the education system, but I doubt we will get that with this Tory government. 
Hey ho...

In terms of my heart - all seems quiet today and I have felt ok - still no word about the cardiac rehab, and I am going to phone up tomorrow and find out where I stand as far as starting the rehab course is concerned.  I need to have some idea so that I can plan work around it as I'll be starting back in a few weeks time - hopefully on a phased return so that I'm not back in full pelt.  I hope in the next few weeks that I can look at ways to change my working practices so that I am not rushed all the time and don't leave everything until the last minute.  Lots to do and still lots to think about - the time seems to have passed so quickly and I still have lots of plans to make and things to work out.    Perhaps more to talk about in the coming days and weeks.  

Questions questions questions...

It is fair to say that as time goes on since the heart attack I've got more and more questions.  It is true that once you leave hospital you are to a great degree, on your own.  If you want support you have to ask for it, which is something that I find really difficult - I don't want to waste people's time, and also don't want to put people out.  It seems that this is something I'm just going to have to adjust to and get used to.  So after my post on Friday, I managed to get myself just about together, I spent the rest of Friday pretty much torturing myself - why wasn't I feeling right, was it going to happen again etc etc.

Saturday and Sunday passed by quite uneventfully.  The boys had a good weekend - M got a bronze medal in his archery shoot, and they both enjoyed the karate party and got a little award to recognise them being at the club over the last year.  And we will have our pictures in the paper - there was a photo of all students at the karate club and that includes me.

I still have had a few iffy moments where I've felt scared that the twinge I've had in my arm/tummy/chest is something sinister - but it is hard to know what is anxiety driven and what is a real symptom and what is to do with the heart attack.  Not good obviously because I don't want to be stressed.

On Monday morning it was time for another blood test, as they are still titrating my dose of Ramipril up, and need to check my kidney function before increasing the dose to ensure that my kidneys are coping with it ok.  I chatted to the nurse about the anxiety, having twinges etc and she was lovely and urged me to ring them or come and see someone if I am worried - in my situation they wouldn't see it as being a nuisance.  She also sneaked a thyroid blood test on there, as I've got a sneaking suspicion that my levels are over what they should be - I could be wrong, but I wondered if that might be contributing to me feeling jittery and anxious.

But questions... what are my chances of having another heart attack, what am I likely to be able to do - will I be able to work full time again, what exercise am I allowed to do.... they are perhaps the big ones along with what is my life expectancy and things like that.  Others are things like how do the different meds work, when might doses need to be adjusted, what side effects should I just put up with.

It is hard to put all this to the back of my mind, but as I don't have a health professional on tap, that is what I must do.  Today's activities include getting my unkempt eyebrows waxed and shaped, and going to the podiatrist because I have a sore heel.   I may report back later...