February 18, 2018

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Having a heart attack

February 18, 2018

I'm 66, and I was really healthy. A month ago I ran six days a week - at least 10k a day. I also went to to the gym three or four days a week to do resistance training.


I used to be morbidly obese, and have diabetes and depression. I decided to control my diet and to exercise, and in ten months I lost ten stone. It took me three months to cure my diabetes and depression, so I am a great believer in mind over matter, and my ability to make a change.


Then, a month ago, I was having a sausage sandwich for breakfast, and I just keeled over. Although I didn't realise it at the time, I had just had a heart attack. I got back up, finished my breakfast., and sat in my armchair. That's pretty much all I remember for the next 24 hours.  


I then had three cardiac arrests. Thanks to the very prompt action of my wife in calling an ambulance, and the ambulance in getting to me within minutes, I am still here to tell the tale. They gave me CPR, breaking my ribs in the process, and, more importantly, saving my life. As I died at least three times, I have been asked if I saw light at the end of a tunnel, or my life flashing in front of me, but, sadly, I experienced nothing. It was all a blank.


I have had a stent (a tiny wire mesh tube inserted into an artery in my heart) and an ICD fitted. (An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small electronic device installed inside the chest to prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest due to life threatening abnormally fast heart rhythms (tachycardias. The ICD is capable of monitoring the heart rhythm.) I really have been so impressed by the kindness, consideration and professionalism of all the medical staff that I have been in contact with. The NHS is great!


I have been told that if I wasn't so healthy, I wouldn't have survived. But I suspect that my heart attack/cardiac arrests were due my previous abuse of my body, so while being aware of the need to not overdo it, I really want to get back to my healthy state.


I am now very keen to get back to my exercising, but I am getting conflicting advice as to how quickly, and how much exercising I should do. I obviously don't want to do anything to endanger myself, but I am itching to get my running shoes on again. At the moment, I am just walking 4 or 5k a day. I understand in theory about not overdoing it, but I have just come back from my daily 5k walk, and I feel completely 'normal'. I don't feel tired or out of breath. When I was doing my running, once a week I would do a long run - 20 or 30k, and I never felt out of breath doing that, so I am finding it difficult to gauge what is too much now. But I don't want to put myself into jeopardy, hence my caution.


Because I am new to this heart attack/cardiac arrest lark I am learning all the time, and I am keen to learn.


I have gone from taking no meds to what seems like a bucketful now. I'm not sure how much they effect me mentally and/or physically, but I certainly don't feel like I used to. Psychologically I do feel a bit messed up, which I wasn't expecting. I used to be very positive, and now I feel a bit...confused.


I used to control what I ate quite carefully, but now I'm eating more than I used to and not exercising, so I'm now feeling like a lazy slob. It is only a month since my heart attack and cardiac arrests, so I expect I will go through more changes.



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