Friday, 19 August 2016

Discharged!!!!

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...


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...


Friday, 8 July 2016

Twinges and other scary things...

Again, I'm afraid this is going to be another slightly negative post - I haven't had a great day today so far.  I had a crap night's sleep courtesy of an active mind, a bird in the house (thanks cats) and a cat fight outside.  I've woken up feeling a bit weak and feeble today and I'm not quite sure why.  Nothing I can completely pinpoint, but I just don't feel 100% - nothing hurts, bp and pulse are great (bp a bit on the low side - 113/66 for example, pulse around 55).  I've taken all the tablets I'm supposed to, but I just feel a bit waffy, and I don't like it.

Of course, this sets one's mind into paranoid mode, so you are constantly on the lookout for signs, symptoms that might indicate heart trouble.  I had a twinge at the top of my left shoulder, not the same ache as the pain that took me to hospital, but it was enough to send me into panic.  I literally had the GTN spray open in my hand at one point, but decided I'd wait.  I haven't tried the GTN spray yet, and if I'm honest I'm scared to.  It can give you a throbbing headache and make you dizzy, both things that I'm really not keen on - light headedness is probably my big hate, but then again it is better than another heart attack.

I tried to rest, but couldn't settle so in the end I decided being busy was perhaps the best way to distract myself, so I've done some housework, I've got the tennis on (Raonic vs Federer in the Mens' Semi Final at Wimbledon) and here I am updating this blog.  It has helped to take my mind off the fretting I was doing, so I think it perhaps was the best plan.  I feel ok, but just not as good as I have on other days.  I know that that is how life goes - even if you haven't had a heart attack you have days where you feel good and days where you feel not so good, but getting used to days where you don't feel so good in the context of having heart trouble is scary.

On a lighter note, J won the cup at school this morning and it was lovely to be able to be there to see him get it.  He was a little shocked and very pleased, no doubt he'll be asking for extra pocket money when he gets home.  I am really pleased as it was for putting great effort into all his work, especially in literacy - and over the last few days I've noticed a change and he seems to be getting the reading bug, which is great to see.  He's really progressing with his reading and writing, and seems to be enjoying it which is good.  No doubt M will be feeling hard done by because he didn't get an award today, so I'll have to deal with the fallout from that.  S is taking the boys to Energi later which is a new trampoline park that has opened in York this afternoon.  I'm really anxious about it because S is going on the trampolines as well - I can't remember the last time he did strenuous exercise, and given what has happened to me recently I'm very jumpy (*excuse the pun).  I've told him my worries and he's basically dismissed them, so thanks for that!  I'd have preferred it if just the boys went but it does look like fun so I can see why S wants to have a go.

Anyhow, tomorrow is another day and lets hope I feel better than I have at times today.  My PMA seems to have deserted me a bit at the moment, it all seems too big, scary and daunting.  Must do better....

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Losing my direction

OK so this focussing on recovering and changing aspects of my life that put strain on my body and cause stress is proving harder than I thought - I'm ashamed to admit that I feel as though I have lost my way somewhat.  Always being the one driving everything, taking the initiative, and being disciplined is hard and I can't decide if I'm simply not up to the job, can't change the things I need to change because they are too deeply instilled, or need some support from somewhere.  Much as I'm inclined to believe the first and second ones of these, I think I'm going to choose support - not sure where to access that, but I need a bit of someone telling me what to do to keep me on the straight and narrow.  I think otherwise I'm at risk of frittering away this recovery time and not getting the best out of it so that I make the changes that will keep me healthy and happy.   I seem to be very good at the analysis of my situation and behaviour but not so good at setting objectives and sticking to them.  Perhaps that has always been a problem of mine - I've tried many times to lose weight, and always fell short of the target, mainly because of a lapse and then not getting straight back on with things, or not having the time to plan my meals and things.

It is hard to know exactly what to tackle and in what order.  I think at the moment though I don't feel that much has really changed.  Yes I'm a stone lighter (thanks to a fortunate side effect of some of the meds I'm on), and I am gradually increasing my activity, but not perhaps in the way that I need to.  I really feel that next week will help, when I get my exercise test and echocardiogram which will give me more information about my capabilities and how to build my strength up.

I'm finding looking after the boys quite stressful and that worries me - I feel constant pressure from them to do things for them, get things for them etc - and sometimes from all sides.  S doesn't get the same at all.  Nor does he get two boys landing on him when he sits down on a sofa to relax - whilst the cuddles are nice, sometimes I just want to sit and maybe watch something on tv.  I hate it when they argue, it is impossible to play games with them at the moment because J in particular (but M as well to some extent) is such a bad loser, and can't hack it if he doesn't get the hang of something immediately.  Sometimes I wish I could say to them ok, now we are going to do xxxx and have them both just go along with it with no argument.  No chance.

On the positive side - I've still had no definite symptoms from my heart - a couple of suspect moments but nothing that I can definitively say is something happening there.  My blood pressure is good, and I've taken every tablet I've been asked to since I was first admitted to hospital - and believe me that is a lot of pills.  Also, I am not having any reaction to increasing my activity level so far, but I'm too scared to really test myself to the point of breathlessness, which I think is perhaps what I'm meant to be doing.

I also have two extremely happy and excited boys as I have managed to get Dan TDM tour tickets for his Sheffield show on 17th September.  I wound them up by telling them it was sold out, then revealed that when I went on the website this morning at 10am it wasn't sold out, and I bought 3 tickets.  There is still one extra big surprise that I haven't told them about.  S doesn't want to come with us, so I will just have to ogle at young Dan (whilst remembering that he is young enough to be my son).

I'd better go before M sees what I've just typed - he keeps coming over and trying to read what I've written on here.  In terms of my reflections on getting over the heart attack, I will sleep on it and come to some decisions as to how to take things forward tomorrow.  Am I procrastinating?  Probably but I need to do some thinking and info gathering as well.  Hey ho...


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

DRIVING away from home.....

Today I did my first driving after the heart attack - I wasn't allowed to drive for 4 weeks, as the DVLA stipulate that after a heart attack, but after that you are fine to drive.  Of course, not doing things by halves, I planned an epic journey to IKEA and Costco to do some shopping.  OK not the most interesting trip but I have missed getting out just to do my own shopping and just generally having a mooch round.  

As is normal for these things, I managed to spend £62 in IKEA on storage boxes, plastic bags, pens and paints (that we didn't really need), and got some Maribou Chocolate, which you seem to only be able to get from IKEA.  I also had some meatballs, but I have to say I didn't enjoy them at all, and I left most of the chips.  I know my appetite is slightly below what it was, which is a very good thing, but I also seem to have developed an aversion to eating really bad stuff like chips and sweets.  

It was just nice doing something fairly normal and boring, and getting myself back (literally) into the driving seat.  Actually I was a bit apprehensive beforehand, but once I got going it was completely fine.  Tomorrow's plan is to go up to York to look for birthday presents for M, he wants a replica FC Barcelona 16-17 Home kit, and some goalkeeping gloves.  

I have started reading a book on stress management - for some reason I'm finding it hard to force myself to try relaxation techniques, like meditations and listening to the cd that the cardiac rehab nurse gave me.  I think that I feel a bit silly doing stuff like that so I feel a bit self conscious, but I guess I need to grow up a bit and realise it is for my own good.  I'm also nervous about exercising - I really need those supervised sessions to get going, but I don't have a date for those as yet.  So far, much of what I have read is about the effects of stress, not really how to deal with it and how to adapt so that you don't get stressed to the point where you have a heart attack!   

I know that recently I have identified two things that I do that could be adding to my stress - one is definitely overthinking things and worrying about what might happen before it happens.  I think this comes from an upbringing where I was always expected to be prepared for every eventuality - a sensible strategy in some ways, but it has perhaps led me to worry about things unnecessarily (and automatically).  The other thing is stepping in when I think my in laws need help - in a way I've got to let others get on with it to some degree, but I find it difficult when I can see things that need sorting.

It is scary how something like this affects your confidence, I find that I'm looking at things in a different light - am I, or will I be capable of doing this?  Like going trampolining with the boys - will I ever be fit enough to do that? Will I ever be able to jog/run?  Do weights? Play tennis?  And in terms of work, will I have the stamina to do my job full time?  Will I need to/be allowed to go part-time if I can't?  It is tricky when you don't really know exactly how much the heart attack is going to constrain things, and also we don't know yet how well things have recovered - I have an echocardiogram and an exercise test on 15th July which will look at how my heart is working - hopefully all will be well and I can get on with things, and putting my life back together, perhaps slightly differently to how it was, a bit more laid back and planned perhaps....

We also need to have a family holiday and at the moment I'm kind of at the mercy of hospital appointments really - I don't want to slow anything down by not being available.  Hey ho, I'm sure it will all come out in the wash... I just feel that a little more certainty in my life would be helpful, and would help me to feel a bit more secure.   

Overall though, today was a good day - I drove, I shopped and I felt fine with it.  I was out of the house for 5 hours and I don't feel too shattered afterwards.  I guess I will have done a fair bit of walking too, but I need to up the pace a bit.  I'll leave that for tomorrow.....

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Troubled....

A busy weekend comes to an end - it seems to have galloped by, but in some ways I am ready for the thinking time that being off work is giving me. We have had good times and bad this weekend, but yet again more illustrations of situations where I get really stressed and need to change the way I deal with stuff.

Saturday the boys had auditions at PQA, for parts in the musical that they will be performing in London in May 2017. J dealt with it with his usual confidence - he knows he's brilliant so no need for nerves! M on the other hand was worried and teary, but both came out with big grins on their faces, so it wasn't such a bad experience.

The school Fayre was on Saturday afternoon, looked like it was a big success and very well organised. I spent way more money than intended, as the bank of Mum kept being drawn on.

The stressful stuff this weekend concerned my mother in law, with her dementia she is having spectacular delusions and hallucinations - people at the side of her bed trying to get her, 3 dead babies, several different Bobs (my father in law) and then crying for her mum (who died 60 years back) and worrying that her mum would tell her off for being late home. She was aggressive, kicking my father in law repeatedly, refusing to get up and dressed etc.  I had popped round to see what they wanted to do for lunch and I ended up lying on her bed with her trying to convince her that everything was alright and nobody was trying to hurt her. I seem to be a good calming influence on her.

We had a surprise visitor, S's older brother who came up to see his mum and dad, it was good to see him and good for him to see what his mum was like on a bad day. Despite the circumstances it was nice to see him.

What  concerns me is how I manage to end up doing exactly what I am not really supposed to be doing which is gettininvolved with my mother in law's care, and also being the one organising things. I guess the one positive was that Steve came and took over caring for mum in law because he knew I shouldn't be doing it, which got the messagetacrossthatI can't keep stepping in. I feel another call to social services coming on, to sort out some respite care. We spent the afternoon at the cinema seeing TheSecret Life of Pets - not bad but the trailers had given me veryhighexpectations and they weren't really met. I thought it was going to be more observational but it was more of adventure story. The boys enjoyed it though which was the purpose of the trip.

So another week begins with the added bonus that I am now allowed to drive, so I can go places! However I think tomorrow will be spent in the company of self help books to look at how I can deal with things better and without getting stressed. Could be a long day...

Friday, 1 July 2016

Worrying developments

My post today continues from where I left off yesterday really - I am getting really concerned that I don't know how to change some of the behaviours that have led me to have a heart attack.  I've had a few worries over the last couple of days and have been unable to stop myself from getting wound up about them, and also from dwelling on them.  I've had various suggestions about how I might stop myself from fretting about things, and I guess I need to work through them.

Basically I've ended up involved in sorting out part of my mother in law's care again because I can't just leave her when I think she is suffering and she really did need checking over by a doctor, and my father in law was reluctant to take her until next week.  I just can't keep out of things - but does that mean I'm doing something wrong?   I then ended up having to go with her to the docs, and look after her while she had a blood test while my father in law popped home to get something.  Easier said than done I have to say, but I managed, but I'm sure it wasn't the best thing for my blood pressure!   I had to grab her hand to stop her from grabbing the needle because it hurt when it went in.  Good job I'm not squeamish!

Then today I've been worrying about school and what classes the boys are going to be in next year.  They keep delaying letting parents know which makes me think that there is going to be something likely to upset parents.  I'm really concerned about M, he'll be Year 5 and I think he is way underachieving because school don't challenge him and their expectations seem low to me.  I know he is capable of so much more.  I wish we were loaded so I could send him to private school sometimes, but failing that I think next year I will have to look at options for getting him some extra tuition.  I just want people to see his potential - I am not expecting him to be top of the class or anything, but I just want to see them get the best out of him, and inspire him. He is coasting and he is bored, and has no interest in schoolwork.
For J, I expect he'll probably end up staying in Class 2, because he is one of the younger ones, while the others move to class 3 with older children and a better teacher. If that happens, he'll be absolutely gutted.   I'd also like him to be moved away from a couple of children in that class who's behaviour is lets say... suspect.  Of course they are also in the younger half of the class.

We were told in a newsletter that we would be told today about the classes, but we have had no communication so far.  Rumour has it that the Head doesn't want to release it until after tomorrow's school summer fair.  I guess he wants to be well out of the way when the s**t hits the fan....  Aaarghh!

Health wise, I feel fine although I did feel stressed earlier, and I don't know what I can do to deal with it differently.  Writing about it has helped, and I know I can't do much about the school situation, but I also don't know how to switch off the worrying - and I need to learn how to do that and fast.   Any advice would be much appreciated - one thing I need to do is look at Stephen Covey's 7 habits book as one of my friends who is also a psychologist has suggested I work through something in there.  Worth a try I guess....  

On the plus side - the cats seem to be getting along a little better - still the odd hiss, but they are not stressed out by each other's presence any more.  Here's a picture taken earlier - pretty good!


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Stop the world...recovery in progress

Sometimes in my little bubble it feels like life should just hang on a bit while I get my recovery time. All stress should be unable to land on me during this time and when I am better I should then emerge back where I was. But...life doesn't work like that.  Dementia in loved ones does not go away to allow one to recover from a heart attack,  and that is perhaps the biggest source of stress in my life with both mine and S's mums in the advanced stages of it. Today S's mum was having a really bad day, confused, distressed, seeing and imagining things and in terrible pain when she sat down. She has barely eaten for the last 2 weeks and now weighs less than 6 stone. A lot of the time she is unsettled and agitated, or feeling sick and barely able to stand.  Today she thought that one of the carers was trying to have her wicked way with my father in law, and also thought she had a chicken stuffed up her top. You have to kind of laugh at the bizarreness and randomness of it all, but it is really upsetting to see someone you love in that condition. Anyway I was really worried about her today because of the pain she was in, the fact that she seemed on the verge of collapse and also because my father in law seemed to think it could wait until next week. In the end I could not rest and S suggested I ring the doctor, which I did. The doc wants to see her tomorrow and also wants me to go along for the appointment, oh joy.  And I am the one supposed to be keeping out of it all! I can't leave her in pain though, and also looking so frail without getting her checked over. Does that make me my own worst enemy?

Another source of concern is school - we find out tomorrow what classes the boys will be in next year. I am hoping and praying that both boys go up a class and don't get held back because of their ages - they are both ready for a change.  Being born in June andAugust sucks because school seem to think it is ok to keep the younger ones down with the year below when they split classes and M gets really bored because particularly at the end of the school year he isn't being challenged. I hate that I feel powerless to change anything in school when I don't think it is right for the boys. The head doesn't seem to take parental concerns very seriously, or if he does there doesn't seem to be much action. 

Today has worried me a bit, it scares me that I could so easily end up back in the same position that got me to the stage when I had a heart attack. Sometimes though it is a balancing act, it would stress me more knowing that mum in law was in pain and nothing was being done about it. But I shouldn't have to be the one that acts when something is amiss, especiallynot at the moment.
 Aaarghh!

On the positive side I got some sorting out done in the house and my cats seem to be starting to get along again, maybe that means peace and harmony is restored! I watched some great tennis on tv and one of my friends got the brilliant news from her MRI scan that her cancer has shrunk to the point where it can't be seen on the scan. Way to go Ali!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Escaping the village!

Today I plotted and carried out a daring escape from the village.  I boarded the No 18 bus and headed for the giant metropolis that is the city of York.  My mission - to boldly go and investigate the sales in my favourite clothes shops, and also to call in and surprise them at work.   



Well I learned lots - firstly the bus drivers in our area are a bit crazy, hurtling down the narrow country roads at alarming speed - best not to focus on what is going on.  Second that I can actually walk a fair distance without stopping, and without feeling any discomfort whatsoever.  I must have walked at least a couple of miles, which is way more than I've done on any other day since the heart attack.   Third, the weather in this country is unpredictable and today turned out wet and cold, and I wasn't dressed for it.  Fourth,  that I don't look like someone who has recently had a heart attack.  I guess my own expectation would be that a recent heart attack victim would look grey and haggard and frail, and I don't look any of those things.  I would say that I look quite a bit healthier than I did before it happened, and my colleagues echoed that when they saw me today.  The new hair helps I guess, but I can see that I look better complexion wise.  So much so that I'm not wearing make up at all at the moment, whereas I was slapping it on before I got ill, to try and make me look vaguely human.  Perhaps I looked more like the perceived image of a heart attack victim BEFORE it happened.  I know I owe a lot to the skill and knowledge of the doctors that have treated me, and also the tablets I'm on!

I was quite moved by the reception I got from colleagues at work - I guess that it had been a shock for them to hear what had happened to me, and I was surprised by how much people had worried about me.  It was nice to talk about a few things going on at work and catch up with developments.  There is a major restructure going on within the University at the moment, so lots of comings and goings, new appointments and role changes.  There isn't much that affects me directly, and I'm looking forward to us being a School of Languages and Linguistics which will be great for everyone in the department.  Nothing against the Business School (which we were part of before the restructure) but there isn't really much synergy there, and being part of that faculty really didn't work for us - it was more like we were kind of tagged on because it fit in terms of numbers of students and staff etc and made our faculty a similar size to the others. 

It was nice seeing a couple of friends today - unplanned too.  I had lunch with one as we met in Pret A Manger.  She's been having a stressful time, and was shocked to hear what I'd been up to.  I think it does tend to put things in perspective, although I wish I wasn't the example having that effect on people.  Another friend was on the bus for both journeys so we chatted on the bus, and took our minds off the crazy driving!  I'll be glad when I can drive myself places from Sunday, although I've got to make sure that I plan things carefully so I'm leaving enough time to get places without stress.

So after my bold and daring adventures I was quite tired, so had a nanna nap when I got home, and got a nice cuddle from Ossie the cat.  She still isn't recognising her sister although things are improving - they have touched noses, although that was closely followed by a hiss and a growl just to make sure Elsa knew where she stood.   

Now I've got the tennis on and we have Marcus Willis (world number 772) playing Roger Federer, and loving it.  He is losing, and that was always going to happen, but what an amazing experience for someone who had almost given up on a tennis career prior to having this run in the qualifying and now getting through to the second round at Wimbledon.  You can see the joy in his face at what he is experiencing.  Just another example that anything is possible... Leicester City won the Premier League after all, oh and Iceland beat England in Euro 2016 (perhaps try and forget that one!).  I wonder what is possible for me in the future?  Maybe I'll run 5k one day??  Play tennis again?  Become a Senior Lecturer or more at work?  Write a book?  Sing in a choir?  Act?  One thing I do want to do is inspire my kids, and that is something that I haven't done up until now - make them proud of their mummy rather than having them wishing I was fitter, slimmer, more energetic, etc etc. 


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Single handedly keeping the pharmaceutical industry in business....

Something I perhaps haven't said much about is the cocktail of drugs that you get put on after you have a heart attack.  I feel as though I am single handedly keeping a pharmaceutical company in business.  Yesterday I had to collect my repeat prescriptions from our GP surgery (living out in the sticks our GP surgery also dispenses medicines), and they were given to me in a carrier bag!!  The prescription went over 4 prescription sheets.



And there it is... my little collection of tablets...

First we have levothyroxine, which I was on before all of this, Sertraline, Zelleta (the progesterone only pill), and I also took 5mg Amlodopine for my blood pressure which was slightly raised after I had my eldest son and never came down, so they have kept me on that.  Since the heart attack they have added:

Ticagrelor (Brilique) 90mg twice a day - that is to prevent clots forming
Ramipril 2.5mg +1.25 mg twice a day - this lowers blood pressure and has other cardioprotective properties as well
Atorvastatin 80mg at night - reduces cholesterol but also prevents arteries from getting furred up.
Bisoprolol 10mg in the morning - a beta blocker, reduces blood pressure and makes the heart pump more effectively
Aspirin 75mg in the morning - reduces clotting and has other protective properties
Lansoprazole in the morning - this is to try and stop my stomach from reacting to all of the above.

I think that is it.  So I have 11 tablets to take in the morning and 3 in the evening.  All except the Ticagrelor and Lansoprazole are likely to be for life.  The Amlodipine may go, but only if they can get me on a higher dose of Ramipril.

So all this to keep me at low risk of any future heart events - a lot of tablets to take, but a small price to pay to stay well.  I'm used to taking tablets every day because I've been on thyroxine for nearly 9 years, and that is for life anyway as the part of my thyroid that has been killed off by antibodies isn't going to regenerate itself!!  (For those that are interested I have autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimotos)).

I think what shocked me was just how quickly I was put on all the medication - I was started on all of these within a couple of days, and I was on the full dose of the beta blocker within 24 hours.  They are still trying to add in more ramipril, but that seems to be the one that I'm struggling to tolerate, mainly because of my stomach.  They want my bp as low as I can tolerate basically.

The meds have made some really big changes to my heart rate - I used to typically have a heart rate of 75-85, and now it is 50-60!  My blood pressure today when I checked it was 109/63.  When I was in hospital it was 160/100 - I'm not sure if that was a consequence of the heart attack as I don't think it was habitually that high before, except for the end of my pregnancy with J, when I had some major problems with my bp.

The statin is supposed to lower my cholesterol - it wasn't high to begin with at 4.4, but they would like it 2.5 or below, and a higher proportion of 'good' hdl cholesterol rather than the ldl cholesterol that furs up your arteries.

All that said, I'm very glad that I'm on thyroxine, as otherwise I'd be paying for all my prescriptions - and at £8.40 per item that would be a bit steep.  I could probably get a prepayment certificate that would keep the costs lower, but even so free is better.




Work Wobbles...

So last night I had my first work wobble - I'm surprised it has taken so long to be honest!  I really enjoy my job, and I had some really exciting stuff on the go before I was taken ill.  I know I am not indispensable, but also worried that people may not know exactly where I was with things before I went off.  Anyway,  after getting in a tizz about a couple of things I had started making arrangements for, I sent a couple of emails, and managed to put my mind at rest - and was kind of pleased with myself for addressing what was worrying me so quickly and directly.  I do miss work, especially my colleagues, but I also know that I'm not ready to get back just yet.   

Yesterday also saw England leave Euro 2016, after an embarrassing beating by the mighty Iceland.  Cringe! As instructed, I went upstairs and didn't watch it and thank goodness I did that as I don't think my blood pressure or stress levels would have stayed low...  I got a commentary from downstairs anyway, and then went down for the last 5 minutes and the disbelief that followed the final whistle.  Iceland!!!!  S and the boys have now switched allegiance to Wales, but I don't have the luxury of being part Welsh!

A bit of good news today was that I got my appointment for the Echocardiogram and Exercise test, and they are on 15th July, so not as long to wait as I'd feared.  I am really glad that it isn't too far off as I'm nervous about exercising, so I'm finding it hard to push myself with the walking etc.  It is nice to see that things are moving in the right direction though, so having that appointment is good.  I also rang our insurers and can drive from Sunday, which will be a big step forward.  

Slightly less good has been starting the increased dose of Ramipril.  I'm back to feeling waffy (not sure if that is a word but it expresses what it feels like!) about an hour after I've taken it, and back to having an upset tum.  On the plus side, I think I may be back to having a poor appetite again, lets hope I lose a bit more weight.  My BP is already low with all the meds I'm on, and a couple of times today I've felt a bit wobbly when I've got up - I'm not sure how low they want my bp, but I was 109/63 earlier according to my home monitor.   

I'm exploring how I can get help with stress management - a friend of mine has recently embarked on a coaching qualification, and I'm interested to see if that might be a worthwhile approach to take with this.  I don't want pressure but I think I do need some sort of guidance and someone to help me set some goals and things to aim for.  I'm also going to see if Occupational Health at work have anything that might help.  Failing that I'll buy a book... 

In other news, yesterday I got my hair done - much needed cut and colour.  It was the first time I'd had it done at home, and actually I'm really pleased with it.  I haven't styled it myself yet, which will be the big test, but at least I look vaguely human now, my hair was starting to take over! 

First a before shot taken a week ago..



and here is a shot of the new hair...



It definitely feels a lot lighter - ready for summer now, although the great British weather is not playing.  

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Frustration Central....

Fed up, fed up, fed up, fed up, fed up.

The dust is starting to settle as far as Brexit is concerned and we can now see the carnage that this horrid result has caused to the UK as a whole, and also just in the way that people view each other.  I have never felt so frustrated and disappointed by a political decision - I guess I've never cared quite as much before.  It feels like the xenophobes and the racists have won, and are going to be taking charge of our country.  I read a comment that really rings true - not all OUT voters are xenophobes and racists, but all xenophobes and racists are OUT voters, so I can't blame all of the 52% for that I guess.   I am encouraged by the fact that the PM hasn't activated Article 50 to start the exit from the EU, and that over 3 million people (myself included) have signed a petition requesting a repeat referendum once we know the terms of any exit from the EU.   It is hard to believe that people would vote in the way they have if they had truly considered all the facts.   I am really struggling not to feel anger and bitterness towards anyone that voted to leave - I just can't understand why anyone could feel that Brexit was the best choice - normally I can see others' point of view, even if I disagree with it, but on this issue I can't, and it makes it hard to respect the decision.   For the first time in my life I am seriously considering going to a political rally, to protest against exiting the EU.  And in my condition.....

The other thing that is frustrating me is this whole recovery business.  I felt after I left hospital that there was a plan, that I would be home for 4 weeks R&R, then starting on a rehab programme, which I would complete before going back to work gradually.  The rehab programme was going to involve two weekly 2 hour sessions, with an hour of exercise and an hour of 'informative talk' about lifestyle management - and that there would be stress management included in that.  Now, after my appointment with the cardiac rehab nurse (who was lovely) it seems that I am coming to the end of my 4 weeks, I've just been referred to the rehab programme, and they will let me know when they have a date and can accommodate me, but there are a lot of people needing to do the programme.  Also, I need an echocardiogram and an exercise tolerance test, and according to my discharge notes, this has been booked, but I have no date for this, and apparently again there is a waiting list, and I will hear in due course when my appointment will be.   In terms of stress management, I was told to talk to my GP about doing a stress management course, and when I did she knew nothing of such a thing, and they have a counsellor that they can refer me to but there are currently 200 patients on her waiting list.  So it could be months/years before I make it to the top of that.  Her recommendation was to go private and I think that is what I'm going to have to do.  It is too important to mess up and end up in the same situation as before - I certainly don't want another holiday in the Coronary Care Unit, lovely as the nursing staff are.  I guess my frustration comes from feeling that people said things were going to happen in a certain way, and that didn't come to fruition.  I understand that the NHS is severely underfunded and demand is huge, but I'd rather that people told me the reality rather than what ideally would happen.  Also although you are the poorly one, it is you who still has to make all the decisions and a lot of the running, and in some ways I just want someone to tell me what to do at this stage.  Perhaps I'm being a bit of a baby in that respect, but hell - I've just had a bloody heart attack, surely that is allowed!!!

My other concern at the moment is how to change the things that cause me stress.  The two issues that I  have highlighted at the moment, I feel powerless to change - the only silver lining was that S did listen to me about them.  We need to come up with a plan, to make life a bit more chilled and a bit less frenetic, and where everyone's needs are treated equally, rather than me feeling like I'm at the bottom of the priority list.  Also, I do think that the kids at the moment are in charge and that needs to change, but that needs a united, consistent and sustained approach from S and I, and I am not sure whether the two of us can work together like that.  It hasn't worked before, but perhaps in this situation there is more at stake.  


Frustration Central....

Fed up, fed up, fed up, fed up, fed up.

The dust is starting to settle as far as Brexit is concerned and we can now see the carnage that this horrid result has caused to the UK as a whole, and also just in the way that people view each other.  I have never felt so frustrated and disappointed by a political decision - I guess I've never cared quite as much before.  It feels like the xenophobes and the racists have won, and are going to be taking charge of our country.  I read a comment that really rings true - not all OUT voters are xenophobes and racists, but all xenophobes and racists are OUT voters, so I can't blame all of the 52% for that I guess.   I am encouraged by the fact that the PM hasn't activated Article 50 to start the exit from the EU, and that over 3 million people (myself included) have signed a petition requesting a repeat referendum once we know the terms of any exit from the EU.   It is hard to believe that people would vote in the way they have if they had truly considered all the facts.   I am really struggling not to feel anger and bitterness towards anyone that voted to leave - I just can't understand why anyone could feel that Brexit was the best choice - normally I can see others' point of view, even if I disagree with it, but on this issue I can't, and it makes it hard to respect the decision.   For the first time in my life I am seriously considering going to a political rally, to protest against exiting the EU.  And in my condition.....

The other thing that is frustrating me is this whole recovery business.  I felt after I left hospital that there was a plan, that I would be home for 4 weeks R&R, then starting on a rehab programme, which I would complete before going back to work gradually.  The rehab programme was going to involve two weekly 2 hour sessions, with an hour of exercise and an hour of 'informative talk' about lifestyle management - and that there would be stress management included in that.  Now, after my appointment with the cardiac rehab nurse (who was lovely) it seems that I am coming to the end of my 4 weeks, I've just been referred to the rehab programme, and they will let me know when they have a date and can accommodate me, but there are a lot of people needing to do the programme.  Also, I need an echocardiogram and an exercise tolerance test, and according to my discharge notes, this has been booked, but I have no date for this, and apparently again there is a waiting list, and I will hear in due course when my appointment will be.   In terms of stress management, I was told to talk to my GP about doing a stress management course, and when I did she knew nothing of such a thing, and they have a counsellor that they can refer me to but there are currently 200 patients on her waiting list.  So it could be months/years before I make it to the top of that.  Her recommendation was to go private and I think that is what I'm going to have to do.  It is too important to mess up and end up in the same situation as before - I certainly don't want another holiday in the Coronary Care Unit, lovely as the nursing staff are.  I guess my frustration comes from feeling that people said things were going to happen in a certain way, and that didn't come to fruition.  I understand that the NHS is severely underfunded and demand is huge, but I'd rather that people told me the reality rather than what ideally would happen.  Also although you are the poorly one, it is you who still has to make all the decisions and a lot of the running, and in some ways I just want someone to tell me what to do at this stage.  Perhaps I'm being a bit of a baby in that respect, but hell - I've just had a bloody heart attack, surely that is allowed!!!

My other concern at the moment is how to change the things that cause me stress.  The two issues that I  have highlighted at the moment, I feel powerless to change - the only silver lining was that S did listen to me about them.  We need to come up with a plan, to make life a bit more chilled and a bit less frenetic, and where everyone's needs are treated equally, rather than me feeling like I'm at the bottom of the priority list.  Also, I do think that the kids at the moment are in charge and that needs to change, but that needs a united, consistent and sustained approach from S and I, and I am not sure whether the two of us can work together like that.  It hasn't worked before, but perhaps in this situation there is more at stake.  


Friday, 24 June 2016

Life goes on....

Well, today much to my dismay I woke up to the news that Britain has decided to leave the EU.  In my opinion this is a very bad decision, and I truly hope that people casting their votes did so for the right reasons, and not as a protest vote, a racist vote or because they disliked any particular politician.  I have been shocked by the level of vitriol on the internet aimed at those who voted to leave - everyone is entitled to their opinion, and whilst I wholeheartedly disagree with the outcome, I totally agree with people's democratic rights.    I would dearly love to see a repeat referendum carried out - if the outcome is the same then I would believe that it was the true will of the British people, if it was different then that would demonstrate the number of disenfranchised voters who perhaps voted one way or the other as a protest, or didn't understand the impact of the decision, or didn't think their vote was worth casting.  Also, perhaps if we now have a period without the misleading campaigning from both sides of the argument, people could see more clearly what the decision they were making was about.  Me included - of course I don't claim to know everything, but I find it really hard to understand how anyone could find a good reason for voting to leave the EU - I know it isn't perfect but surely we are better together overall.

It was sports day at school today - always a slightly strange event in my view - supposedly non-competitive but actually fiercely competitive.  You can always spot competitive mum and dad standing anxiously by the finish line...  I do think that forcing the kids to do every event is a bit harsh - there were a few children who you could see absolutely hated every second of it, and it is supposed to be a fun thing.  M struggles with it - he's not naturally athletic and has reached many of his motor milestones rather late, and in most of the events he was last or second last.  I made sure he knew that I was totally proud of him for having a go at everything and didn't care two hoots where he came in each event.  I have wondered for several years whether he has a hint of dyspraxia but never done anything about it as I don't think it holds him back a huge amount, and he doesn't really need 'help' as such so I don't think it would benefit him to have it looked at.   J fares slightly better - he's more co-ordinated, and very similar to his peers in his motor skills.  He did pretty well in the sack race which was always M's nemesis in Key Stage 1.

So, these two things were kind of good in a way for taking my mind off being a heart patient.  I'm still feeling a tad deflated that I don't have a plan as such.  My friend H thinks that I need a coach to perhaps initially tell me what to do, and help me with some short and long term objective setting.

Health wise - I saw the GP this morning to get the results of my kidney function tests - these are to check that my body is coping ok with all the drugs that they have thrown at me - particularly the ACE inhibitor Ramipril.  As my kidneys are coping fine, they are increasing the dose a small amount as they want me on a bigger dose in the end so that I can benefit from the cardioprotective properties of the drug.  Hopefully I will feel ok - bp is quite low at the moment and I don't want to feel like I'm going to fall over when I stand up.  I also asked about stress management programmes and she didn't appear to have a clue what I was talking about - the cardiac rehab nurse had said to ask my gp about what support could be offered to me to help me learn to cope with stress better.  They have a waiting list of 200+ patients needing support for stress and anxiety in our GP practice, so I will be waiting a very long time if I go down that route.  Perhaps private is the way forward - or something via Occupational Health at uni.  I definitely don't want to have another heart attack and unless I do something to address how I manage stress I won't feel that I've done everything in my power to prevent another one.

I'm still getting loads of people asking me about my heart attack on the school run, it has been so lovely to see how much support there has been for me, and for that I am really more grateful than people will ever know.  It has been a tough time for me, and just being asked and wished the best has made a huge difference.  If anyone that knows me in real life is reading this, Thank You.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rehab!

So, after what seemed like a long wait the day of rehab finally arrived...  I had perhaps built this up in my mind as the day that the second stage of my recovery begins. I was also expecting to be told what to do a lot, and I kind of wanted that. Someone to say to me "ok Leesa,this is what you are going to be doing....on Monday etc etc." Instead I got lots of things to think about and choose between.

So, I have opted to do the cardiac rehab programme at York Hospital, which is 2 hours, twice a week, and includes an hour of exercise preceded or followed by an informative talk.  I need to pay attention to my diet, but she suggests it isn't my top priority, the main things are tolerating the meds, increasing activity and looking at how I manage stress. she is looking after quite a few youngish women who have had heart attacks brought on by stress, I am certainly not the only one.  I would like to meet others in a similar position or perhaps a bit further on in their recovery.

There is a 12 week exercise on prescription programme I can be referred to after that which combines going to the gym with Slimming World membership, it is at Selby Leisure Centre which may be tricky for me to manage with work, kids etc. I need to think about how I can make exercise part of my life and put together a suitable routine for the future.  Apparently occupational health at work should be able to support me with that.

So tons to read, tons to think about and plan, so that I can develop a healthier way of living where I don't stress so much and hopefully enjoy life a whole lot more.  But the plan and fully fledged programme I was expecting hasn't quite happened.



In other news, Elsa is home minus the cone of shame and the tube in her nose, boy is she one happy cat. Her sister still doesn't recognise her so she is in a right grump. You would never know Elsa had had an accident to look at her - I took the photo of her earlier. Oh and I voted to stay part of the EU.



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Out and about and giddy as a kipper!

So today's excitement was:  I WENT OUT OF THE HOUSE TO A TOWN AND HAD A WALK AROUND!!! 

OK... so I'm a bit giddy about this new found freedom, which while fairly short, was an exciting development!  

It really isn't that exciting, but when you've been largely cooped up in the house for 6 weeks (the few weeks prior to the heart attack I was recovering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery), believe me it  definitely classes as exciting!

So what did I do?  I took M to the dentist - he's been complaining of a sore mouth for a few days - it hadn't gone away and the inside of his mouth looked quite red, so I got a friend to take us.  The traffic in Selby was good so we were 1/2 hour early so had a bit of time to wander before the appointment.  So bought a new supply of gossip magazines to read (a guilty pleasure of mine), some Rennies so that I had something if I had indigestion again, and a kit kat.  M's dentist says he has a gum infection where he had a filling recently, so he has a course of antibiotics to take.  I feel a bit guilty that I made him wait to go, but I thought it might have been something from eating and would heal up on its own.  

So some positives from today:
1) I went out and escaped the village!
2) I spent time with 2 lovely friends from the village
3) Elsa the cat is coming home tonight
4) I've not had a nanna nap at all today and feel fine.

Tomorrow is (cardiac) rehab day - Amy Winehouse came on the radio earlier and it felt like my song!!  Although I must emphasise that unlike poor Amy, I won't be saying no, no, no.  I am looking forward to learning more about managing this condition and finding my new normal.   If they can teach me how to manage the stress in my life, even better!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Indigestion or Heart Trouble

Ohhh tonight has been tough.

I have spent several hours stressing over some twinges that started earlier in the low chest/upper abdomen area.  It felt like heartburn, I had some acid reflux, but what if I was wrong. Had lots of internal debates trying to sort my head out over this one. Should I try out the GTN spray in case I am wrong?  I can't take any of the indigestion remedies in the house because of the cocktail of meds I am already on, and I have no simple Rennies or gaviscon in the house. Aaarghh.

After enduring that, kids playing up and in-laws visiting, including crazy mother in law who thought the belt on her coat was alive (I kid you not, this is what dementia can do), I think I am about done for. S came up with the genius idea of getting me to drink a glass of milk - I hate drinking milk but it was definitely worth the try.  So with that helping to settle things down, my BP readings being good (117/66 get me!) and nice slow pulse, I am finally feeling a bit more chilled.  Sitting in bed helps too, kids are asleep now, S is watching TV downstairs so peace and quiet for me.

Oh and thank you Marks and Spencers Salmon sliders for the indigestion. Not eating those again...

Now what.

Today is the first day that I'm feeling properly bored.  A good sign as it means I must be feeling better.  There is loads that I could be doing, but most of it I'm not allowed to do because it involves reaching for things, or lifting things I'm not allowed to lift etc.   The tonsillitis is now loads better, so I am almost feeling human again.

I may set myself a challenge this afternoon - I got a Lego Ghostbusters car for my birthday and as yet I haven't built it.  That might be my afternoon sorted.  I think S would be quite proud of me for that one.   And I need to get walking as I've not been anywhere yet today.  I am starting to enjoy lying in bed in the morning after the madness of the school run, which is a habit I really must get out of.  Last night I couldn't get to sleep before 1am because I wasn't tired.  I have to say this was some cause for celebration - a month or so ago the idea of me not being tired was a mere flight of fancy.  Something is heading in the right direction.  I think I was quite unwell before the heart attack given the energy levels I'm now feeling.  Yes I'm not doing that much, but I don't feel completely sluggish and wiped out like I did pretty much all the time before.

We might get our Elsa cat back from the vets later today if she manages to eat.  She is making fab progress.  It is interesting how intuitive cats are about illness and things - Ossie (Elsa's sister) has been so close to me since I've been off post heart attack.  If I'm lying in bed then she is either on the bed with me, or lying on the floor nearby.  Most unlike her to be honest - she's usually more M's cat, and only comes to me for food.  But cats just seem to know.  She is clearly missing Elsa, although I wonder if they will be greeting each other with a purr or a hiss when Elsa gets home.  Sometimes when cats have been at the vets for a while, when they come home they don't recognise the other cat at first, so you have to introduce them back to each other carefully.  

This is  Ossie in her favourite basket, which she is hardly using at the moment, because she is choosing to sleep with me.  

Heart wise - things seem ok.  I've had no twinges or anything.  My only slight concern is my blood pressure and how low it is going which potentially is a good concern.  I have a home bp monitor and I took my bp at 94/64 yesterday at rest and 114/70 a bit later after I'd been up and doing something.  They are supposed to be increasing the dose of my bp lowering drugs, so I'm a little worried.  I felt a bit faint yesterday which is why I took my bp, and I don't think it needs lowering any more!  I'm seeing the doc on Friday so lets see what they say.  Wondering if I'm reading too much into things, but it is in my nature to be analytical.

Monday, 20 June 2016

So what is normal anyway?

Normal.  I just want to get back to normal.  I can hear myself say it, but actually, what is normal?
Do I want to go back there?  Is 'normal' what I aspire to?  I think having spent so much time recently in my bed with plenty of time for thinking and reflecting on things, I am wondering what actually it is that I am aiming for.

If 'normal' has caused me to have a heart attack, then I definitely don't want to be going back there.
If 'normal' is being so busy that I don't have time to think or look after myself, I don't think I should be going back there either.
If 'normal' means I don't have time for my friends (which I didn't) I don't want to go back there.
If 'normal' means I've got no energy to play with my kids, then I don't want to go back there.
If 'normal' means I'm so unfit and overweight I can't run 50 yards without feeling like I'm going to expire, I don't want to go back there.  I'm hoping that if I do what I'm told by the cardiac rehabilitation people that I'll be able to get myself fitter than I was before this happened.  It wouldn't take much to be honest.  I've lost around 10lbs in weight since the heart attack as my appetite isn't that great and I'm too scared to eat anything naughty!

So I'm coming to the realisation that I'm not trying to get back to normal at all.  I'm searching for a new version of normal which is a lot more fun than the old version.  I might do normal things, but going back to  what I was doing before would be a really stupid idea.  I knew I was struggling, before it came to this, I just didn't know what to do about it.  If the truth be told I still don't know what to do about it.   But one thing I do know is that things have got to change, and I'm going to need strength and tenacity to make those changes happen.

So trying to make sense of what put me in this position in the first place - it isn't hard to see why I was stressed:

Mum in specialist care home with advanced dementia after becoming violent being sectioned and spending 9 months in hospital. She is currently in a state you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
Dad had heart attack Sept 2015 - doing ok but he stresses me at times although he doesn't mean to.
I have no siblings so nobody to share the load with or talk to.
Mum in law with advanced dementia living around the corner with father in law who is 24/7 carer and struggling like hell.  I was doing all the arranging of carers, getting social services in etc. It is more complicated than it sounds.
2 boys aged 8 and 6
Full time job (which I love) but still trying to juggle with school runs and things
No support from family with kids whatsoever - only childcare we can get is what we pay for.
Kids don't have a quick/easy bedtime routine and don't routinely do any chores


What is more difficult is to work out what gives.  Or is it all about organisation, working out a schedule and better planning.  I'm guilty of doing most of that in my head and last minute, and I'm always in a rush.

Also difficult to work out is what do I want?  There are many things I can't change - OK  of course I'd like my mum and mum-in-law to be well but that isn't going to happen.  In some ways I'd be relieved if either of them passed on simply because they have no quality of life as things stand, as the dementia is so severe now it really affects everything.  My mum can't walk, talk, feed herself, she shouts and can be angry and physically aggressive, she has fits, is doubly incontinent, has a broken hip that they can't fix.  What kind of life is that?  My mum-in-law is not as bad, but is very anxious and losing weight at an alarming rate - just over 6 stone at the last weigh in, but she won't eat and you can't really force it.    I think also the impact on carers and family can't be underestimated and it is stressful seeing/knowing that both of them are so ill.   I'd like my dad to stop stressing me out - his first response to my heart attack was 'what are you trying to do to me?', and then he started laying the law down about what I had to do - get fit, lose weight etc.  I do know that, and don't need pressure from him.  I'd also like the boys to help out a bit more, but they are only 8 and 6.

But really, what do I want - I love my job, but full time is hard going with everything else that I need to fit in.  It gives me the chance to work with great people, inspire students (hopefully) and it gives me intellectual challenge.

I basically want to be healthy, happy, loved, fit, and fun.  Oh and a bit of wealth wouldnt go amiss. 't the moment I think I am loved by my closest ones, but I've neglected my friends and I'm none of the other 4.  Definitely unhealthy, unhappy mainly because of that, unfit, and definitely not having much fun.  Money wise we are ok, but could do better.

SO back to normal aint gonna happen.  What I need is to find a new normal that makes me happy, healthy, loved, fit and fun.  Next step is putting it all together. Help.



Sunday, 19 June 2016

Stop Press: Heart Attack patients get ill just like normal people!

Well, I knew I had a sore throat... just assumed it was what J had had earlier in the week that he shook off in a couple of days.  But no, it turned into a full-on bout of bacterial tonsillitis.  But... what happens when you get tonsillitis and you've recently had a heart attack?  That was the thought going through my mind as I was contemplating raising my head above the parapet and risking a call to 111. I knew my blood pressure was up, my heart rate was up and my temperature was up - 38.8 - scorchio!
So,  was there anything special I needed to do because of the recent heart attack?

Dialled 111 and got someone sensible for a change - well apart from the compulsory Ebola questions which make no sense when you've just told the call handler why you are calling.  Actually I think I'd have mentioned it if I was confused, bleeding and had been to West Africa since my heart attack.  Don't get me wrong, I kind of get why they ask the questions, but in context they do seem rather ridiculous.

Anyway, I got given an appointment with the out of hours doctor within an hour. Saw him and he confirmed that no question this was a bacterial tonsillitis and I needed antibiotics.  Just another 8 penicillin pills a day to pop on top of the already large collection.  I explained about the heart attack, and that I had been worrying about it affecting my recovery.  He just said, you had all these things before the heart attack and you'll still get things from time to time afterwards, and it is no different to before.  I just can't take nurofen and I've got to be a bit careful to make sure that people know what meds I'm on before they prescribe anything.  Simple.  In my head I was definitely overcomplicating things.  Not sure if that is normal, but in my mind the doctor was going to want me to go back into hospital on iv antibiotics while they monitored my heart.  But no, tonsillitis is still just tonsillitis - heart patient or not.  Yes it speeds up your heart rate and your bp if you have a temperature but this is normal.  Lesson learned perhaps.  I think it is going to take me a while to feel 'normal' again and not worry about every little thing going on with my body.  I did feel vindicated though as I definitely needed the urgent docs appointment.   24 hours on and my throat still hurts like hell but I don't feel quite as unwell and my temperature is down a bit.

So, heart attack victims get poorly like normal people and thats ok.  Note to self for next time.

In other news... our Elsa cat is doing well.  The vets seem to have fallen in love with her a little - she is a lovely temperament, and has been purring at anyone who strokes or brushes her.  She's got a feeding tube in her nose because of her jaw injury and so the purr is really snuffly.  We have visited her every day over the weekend for cuddles and she is progressing each day.  The vets have been amazing, and we are incredibly grateful for what they have done.  We are also pretty amazed that Elsa has managed to have an argument with a car and survived more or less intact.  They now think that her jaw may sort itself out and she might not need an operation to fix it.   I am not sure quite how many of her 9 lives she used up there but quite a few I should think.  She might not be able to see quite as well out of her left eye after the accident, but that is a much better outcome than I was expecting.

The boys are bored.  Really bored.  How do I know this - the bickering level in this house is absolutely soaring.  Mummy is ill which is boring, daddy is busy being mummy and daddy basically so only managing to do boring stuff.  Hard to explain to them that being ill is boring too, and I'd much rather be doing fun stuff.  I feel guilty about Father's Day - S deserves to be spoilt, and I did make him a cuppa this morning, but that was about my limit.  The boys made cards and bought presents from Friends of School, so S was the proud recipient of a sponge and scraper to clean the car and a pair of socks with footballs on.   I did get him a book that he wanted so he was pleased in the end, but I don't think it was the relaxing day being waited on hand and foot that he was hoping for.

So, my next challenge is next week - Steve will be back to near full time work, so I'll be doing all the school runs and trying to keep the boys entertained whilst simultaneously taking it easy.  They are 8 and 6, how does that work?  I can't drive them anywhere, I can't do much, so I might have to settle for  the TV and iPad as childminders.    Lets hope my blood pressure is up to it!  Mind you if the cat getting run over, car not starting and tonsillitis haven't caused a problem I think it probably will be.

In a weird way I'm learning two things - one that I am still reasonably robust in some ways, and two I can still do quite a bit - even if the things would certainly not have been things I'd choose.






Saturday, 18 June 2016

Cars, cats, tonsils and T@ats

Hey diddley dee it's the easy life for me..... Yeah right!

Cat update - Elsa is making good progress and we visited her at the vets yesterday for some much needed cuddles. She looks a bit of a mess with a feeding tube up her nose, a cannula in her right paw and a pretty dishevelled looking face. S says she looks a hundred times better than the day before. The vet rang out his morning and she has had a good night. Hoping to go and see her at 3, but...

Of all the times to get it, I have a nasty case of tonsillitis, temperature of 38.4, big pussy tonsils and feel like crap. Why now? Aargh! I am writing this from my comfy bed whilst trying to shake it off. Hoping I don't need penicillin as a knackered immune system on top of all this would not be a good thing. 

The boys are at PQA which is a performing arts class that they do on a Saturday morning, both love performing andI I hope they will learn some really good confidence building skills there. Next May they get to do a show at a theatre in the West End which is very exciting. I am not a stage school mum and am not a fan of musicals particularly, but it is lovely to see how J  has blossomed since they started going. M is just starting out, but he just beams on a stage and you can see that he totally loves performing. Not in a precocious way, but you can see that he is in his element. I hope PQA get to see that too. I like PQA as the classes are not all geared towards putting on performances, they are geared towards building skills and confidence. 

And the car... The boys were late for PQA this morning because the car wouldn't start. Dead as a door ail. Cue quick call to the AA whilst thanking my lucky stars I took out home start as an extra. The battery had died, it wasn't flat, it was dead. Couldn't hold charge basically so incapable of starting the car. One.new battery and £100 later we are back on the road (or should I say they are).

Finally for today I have a list for you. There seem to be rather a lot of t@ats out there who seem hell bent on spreading violence and hate, and I hope karma hits them where it hurts most. With bells on it.

1. . The lowlife scumbag  responsible for the mass shooting in Orlando
2.  The  lowlife that shot and killed Jo Cox MP, robbing her two kids of a mum and Britain of a fabulous spirited politician
3.  Croatian Russian English and any other  "supporters"blighting Euro 2016 with hooliganism. Deport the lot of them.
4. Terrorists and all who support the hatred they propagate.
5.  Nigel Farage
6 Donald Trump - America please see sense, the guy is a narcissistic power hungry lunatic.
7. Sir Philip Green and those of similar ilk who think it is OK to shaft everyone else for their own gain.

Ok thats enough from me, this is supposed to be a blog about recovering from a heart attack not an outpouring of political sentiment, but of course venting helps. Today I feel sick of being brave, sick of hearing terrible things on the news and sick of all the shite that seems to be splattering me at the moment. 

Oh one last thing actually, and something positive -Welcome Home from Space Tim Peake! Such an inspiration.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Keep stress levels to a minimum, they said.....

A few days since my last post, and things had been ticking over and generally going ok in terms of my recovery, I'm building up speed and a bit of distance on the walking.  J had his 6th birthday on Wednesday, and although I felt a bit ropey in the afternoon we got out to the designer outlet and had something to eat, followed by minion cake at home afterwards.  One of those supermarket bought cakes that looked amazing, but tasted rank!  J enjoyed eating minion butt though (boys!).

Then came Thursday.  All was going fine until a ring at the doorbell.  Our cat Elsa had been hit by a car.  So, blood pressure to the test.  Steve rushed her to the vets, I rang ahead to let them know she was on her way and stayed at home with the boys.  The person that hit her was completely devastated, and I know it was a complete accident, but what timing....  BP went up to 165/97 so I thought a call to the doctor was in order.  She said as long as it comes down later it was ok.  Thankfully it did, so my ticker survived the sternest of tests - given that I'm supposed to avoid stress at the moment, and couldn't even watch the England Euro 2016 match against Wales, this was a big one.  

Poor Elsa is at the vets nursing a badly damaged eye and possibly a broken jaw.  She is doing well they have said, and will have x-rays later today to see what the damage is.  The vet says she has lost her sight in her injured eye and will most likely lose the eye.  So we will have a beautiful pirate cat if she makes it through.  She is still not out of the woods and we don't fully know the extent of her injuries yet, although the signs are positive.  Positive is one thing that I am not feeling at the moment.

So, how am I feeling - lets try negative, defeated, beaten, depressed, devastated.  I am so sick of crappy things happening to me and my family.  I am feeling bitter about the heart attack - why me, ok so I wasn't a paragon of virtue in the lifestyle department as I've said, and I've had a huge amount of sustained stress in my life, but there are people far worse than me out there that don't have heart attacks.  I've got 2 young kids who need their mum healthy, a husband who is out of his mind with worry and dragged from pillar to post at the moment trying to sort everything out,  and a badly injured cat.  (not forgetting the mum and mum in law with advanced dementia, dad with attitude that had a heart attack himself last September, father in law stressed to hell looking after mother in law). I am starting to wonder if I was really bad in a past life to deserve all this shit in my current one.

All of this makes me wonder how religious people can possibly consider that there is a benevolent God out there when all this happens.  And then you look at all the horrors in the news - the senseless murder of Jo Cox MP yesterday, the mass shooting in Orlando last week, the toddler snatched by an alligator and killed in Orlando, Syria, etc etc.   If there is a God, s/he really needs a massive bollocking.  I'm with Stephen Fry on that one.  If you haven't seen it try and find the clip of Stephen Fry talking to an Irish TV presenter about God.  Spot on.

I guess I've got to ride the storm of self pity and perhaps I'll emerge out of it soon.  In the meantime, bear with me.  And I'll try and keep the stress levels down, and would appreciate it if life would stop throwing shit at me.