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Interview HA03

Age at interview: 57
Age at diagnosis: 53
Brief Outline: Heart attack 1998. Thrombolytic (clotbuster) drug, five days in hospital. Coronary artery bypass surgery 2000. Current medication' aspirin, atorvastatin, bisoprolol, ramipril, isosorbide mononitrate.
Background: Retired carer; Married, 1 child

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Describes what the angiogram was like.

Describes what the angiogram was like.

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Oh, the angiogram, it takes approximately 20 minutes but you're wide awake. You can have a sedative if you want one, but you go down to the, it's like a theatre and they put a catheter in through your groin which goes into the heart, and then they inject dye so it can see if there's any blockages in your arteries. 

And you just lie there flat and they, they give you a local anaesthetic so you don't feel a thing. And you can see on the monitor where the dye is going and it's quite interesting, actually. The only thing, you have like this hot flush and it's, it goes all through you, this warm feeling, it doesn't hurt or nothing but it's just this warm feeling all through your body [for about two minutes]. 

And you have that, but [the angiogram] it only lasts about 20 minutes and then you have to go back to the ward. And you have to lie flat for a couple of hours and they, because they've cut into your artery, they just make sure that that's not going to bleed. 

And then after, I think it's about 4 hours, all told, and you can, I think you can get out of bed then. I'm not 100%, I think it's about 4 hours, and you can get out of bed. And you're not long in going home, it's only a day thing and it's nothing to be frightened of, it's fine.

 

She had crushing sensations in her chest and throat and pain in her left arm.

She had crushing sensations in her chest and throat and pain in her left arm.

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To start with, I thought I was having a panic attack because it goes all in your throat and it was all in my throat and I couldn't breathe properly and I thought, 'oh it's a panic attack' and that's what I just thought it was. 

But when the pain started going down my arm and the nurse come to me and took my blood pressure, she said 'no' she said, 'you need to get into hospital.' But by the time I'd got, the ambulance come and I'd gone in the ambulance it had eased off and I was going, 'I'm all right now, I'm fine you know, I don't have to go to hospital.'  

But it's a good job they took me in the end. But it's not a pain, there's a crushing, it's this horrible sensation. It's all up in my throat and it's very difficult to explain what it's like; it isn't like a toothache or, it's not like that, it's this horrible crushing, stifling pain. And it's not very nice at all.

 

She believed that she was so anxious before she started rehabilitation that this actually caused...

She believed that she was so anxious before she started rehabilitation that this actually caused...

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I didn't want to come home. I was frightened, I was frightened to come home. I didn't want to stop in hospital but I didn't want to come home. I thought, well my husband's got to go work, I'm going to be on my own and it's really frightening, that time.  

From, I think it's about 8 weeks, that 8 weeks from coming out of hospital to going to the rehabilitation, it's really frightening because you're sitting on your own and you have these twinges and you have pain in your chest, you know all these things are happening and I think all it is, is fear. When you're frightened you tense up, and I think that's what brings the pain on.  

And it's just fear, you're frightened of doing something or going out. I bought myself a mobile. I had to carry my mobile everywhere with me. If I went and took the dog for a walk, I'd be frightened in case I'd have to phone an ambulance and what would happen to my dog, because I couldn't take the dog in the ambulance. It's just really frightening.

 

She got a lot out of the hospital cardiac rehabilitation programme.

She got a lot out of the hospital cardiac rehabilitation programme.

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But after, I think it was 6 weeks, 6 or 8 weeks, after my heart attack I was allowed to go to the rehabilitation at the hospital. So I went through an eight week programme and that builds your confidence up. You do an 8 week, 2 days a week for an hour of exercise and it does help you think, 'oh yes, you know I can do this and I can do that.' And they build you up, your confidence and your strength, which is brilliant.

And what type of exercise is it that you do?

You do a warm-up, like a bit aerobics but very slowly. And then you go on to a circuit, weightlifting, press-ups against the wall and little sit-ups, just sitting up, you know lying on the floor sit-ups. Or on the bike, you know things like that. Marching on the spot so it builds you up to be able to do things at home. You think, well yes, I can do that, I can do that. 

So it gives you that confidence back, which, it's brilliant, you know the rehabilitation programme. And then you have a talk about, after you've finished that. The one day we had relaxation and then the next, the next time you go in that week, you have a pharmacist come and talk to you or a dietician. And they tell you about the diet you should be having, about the fat and what's good for you and what's not good for you. So you get all that information.

 

The cardiac care team gave her plenty of useful information.

The cardiac care team gave her plenty of useful information.

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So what were the good things, what happened when you got into coronary care?

They explained, as soon as I was there they explained to me I was going to be tearful, it's a big thing, and they explained all my feelings I was going to have. I'm going to do a lot of crying and they explained that they're going to put this drug in me to get rid of the clot and everything, they just explained every inch of the way what was happening and how I was going to feel.  

And they was right, everything they said, they was right and they was there, I mean in the night when I was frightened, they was standing at the side of my bed in the middle of night talking to me for an hour or two. They was absolutely brilliant, they was there answering any question.

 

She felt conscious of her scars after bypass surgery but her husband helped her to overcome her...

She felt conscious of her scars after bypass surgery but her husband helped her to overcome her...

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Because of the scar on, I didn't want anybody to look at me, even my legs, you know with the scar all up my leg. I didn't want anybody, I'd wear trousers all the while. And I didn't want anybody to see the scar down my chest. It sort of, it's you know, it was horrible. And I didn't feel, and I just didn't feel sexual at all. 

I just didn't want to know anything like that. But as time goes on and you get your confidence back, my husband's never worried. He loves me for me, whatever happens, I mean, he really does love me. So the caringness between, with him and that, that makes you feel nice about yourself again. 

He makes you feel, but at first I didn't, well it was a long time after that we had any sexual relations. But as I said, when you get your confidence back and he made me feel good, so that all come back.

 

Her husband felt helpless because he had always been able to sort out any problems she had in the...

Her husband felt helpless because he had always been able to sort out any problems she had in the...

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I think he went through a lot more than I did in one way, because there was nothing he could do to help me. If, in the past, something's gone wrong and he could help me but with this, he couldn't. 

He couldn't help me and he didn't know how to help me so he felt, he felt he couldn't, he was useless sort of thing, because he could not put something right for me where any other time, I've got a little problem or something he'd say, 'now calm down, we'll sort it.' 

And this one time he couldn't sort it and he felt, he couldn't do nothing for me and he felt useless. He couldn't, he wanted to mend me and he couldn't and you'd catch him having a little cry here or cry there. And that used, I'd say, 'oh, don't come round me crying, I can't handle that.'   

And with the support group we tend to talk to the carer's as well because they do go through it. The carer's go through something as much as the, you know the person who's had the heart attack or the bypass. The carer's have to go through all this and they don't know, they don't know what to do.

 

She stopped putting off doing things she wanted to in order to get chores or housework done.

She stopped putting off doing things she wanted to in order to get chores or housework done.

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Everybody was so good and I think you think well, I could have died. You've got to live your life to the full. So I'm doing things now that, instead of thinking, oh I don't know if I should do that, I do it. If I want to do it, I do it. You know, I think well I might as well get it done and do, I might as well go to the holiday. 

I might as well do this because I don't know if what's going to happen now. I think it does, definitely, change, you put your priorities right. You know, I used to think, oh I've got to get the housework done. Now the housework, I'm not bothered. I'll go and do something that I want to do rather than think, I've got to do this and chores and things like that.

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