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Interview HA09

Age at interview: 77
Age at diagnosis: 69
Brief Outline: Heart attack 1995. Coronary artery bypass surgery September 1995 (Private). Current medication' aspirin, simvastatin, amlodipine, doxazosin, bendrofluazide, bisoprolol, enalapril
Background: Retired Chartered Engineer; Married, 2 children

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His wife was frightened that he was going to die and only gradually gained her confidence.

His wife was frightened that he was going to die and only gradually gained her confidence.

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My wife was obviously very, very concerned and the mere fact that she was told I had a heart attack, made her believe I was next to death's door. And to bring her round to believing that there isn't, you know, you can make a very good recovery was a real, a real benefit, not only to her but to, to me as well. 

I mean, even now she occasionally says 'oh don't lift this or don't do that'. I say, 'come on I do twenty five press ups, I weigh 75 kilos, what am I doing here, lifting 20 kilos, you know.' So it's a big worry and even, I'm, I have a lot of medication, blood pressure and a number of things which fortunately don't seem to result in any side effects which is a big plus and her, she sees it as her function in life to make sure that I take it. 

And I do naturally take it in the morning, I take some in the morning as part of my usual routine, shaving and, yes I do shave, and cleaning teeth and so on, and in the evening when we have supper, except then I sometimes forget, but she doesn't [laughs].

 

Four months after bypass surgery his scars had healed well and he had no problems with his leg.

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Four months after bypass surgery his scars had healed well and he had no problems with his leg.

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Yes there was, there was a patch now that you mention it. A shortish patch when, you know after this operation they make you wear these long elasticated stockings which at first I couldn't deal with myself, my wife or a nurse, my wife had to put them on and take them off. 

They are quite hard to get on and this was made even worse [coughs] by the fact that they cut the leg all the way from, from the ankle to the groin to get a vein out to do the bypass. I've got four, they had to have a long piece of vein so I've got a long cut.

And the cut whilst it didn't hurt, the upper portion of it didn't seem to want to heal and it kept oozing. It wasn't as I say, it wasn't painful but it was, it was wetting this damn stocking that I was wearing and it was a mess. 

And I had to go for this walk every day and before we'd walked a quarter of a mile, I was wet through up here and that really depressed me, I was really fed up with that. But again it's not actually the heart attack; it's only a side issue. A lot of people have told me that when you have a bypass, the leg gives you more trouble than up here.
 

 

He asked the surgeon how many bypass operations he had done before he consented to surgery.

He asked the surgeon how many bypass operations he had done before he consented to surgery.

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I'm telling you this because one of the things that the surgeon told us was that the, one of the things that I wanted to know from the surgeon was how many of these things had he done. Was he, sort of, did he know what he was doing and he told me, this was September, he told me by that time he had done about 140 bypass operations that year. 

So that was you know, quite reassuring. And I also asked him what the prognosis was and he told me that 95% of all cases of, who have bypass surgery are successful, and 5% are not. So you've got a 1 in 20, is it? yes 1 in 20 chance that something might go wrong and I said what can go wrong. 

He said mostly what can go wrong is that you get some kind of sepsis and we can fix that. So I thought the odds were pretty good, bearing in mind that my cardiologist said I've got to have this done, not much choice.

 

He felt positive after seeing ex-bypass patients exercising in the gym before he left hospital.

He felt positive after seeing ex-bypass patients exercising in the gym before he left hospital.

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Before I was discharged the physiotherapist took me to the gym down stairs and in the gym there were a number of people doing various exercises and she said they were all ex-patients who had bypass operations and I was, you know, I was pretty impressed. You know, they were doing, they were jumping up and down and they were doing skipping, and they were doing a mild form of press-ups. 

A number of fairly strenuous looking things and I thought, oh well it must have been two or three years since they've had their bypass and I asked her about that and she said, turned to one of the chaps and she said 'How long ago have you had your bypass?' and he said, 'Oh, just six weeks ago now.' 

So that was, that was a real eye opener and again something very positive. And really from that moment on I felt, and my wife, we both felt very positive about the whole thing.  

 

He can't teach his grandson to ride a bike or play football with him after his heart attack and...

He can't teach his grandson to ride a bike or play football with him after his heart attack and...

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It came to mind the other day that I taught my wife to cycle, I taught both our children to cycle. I taught all our grandchildren to cycle except the youngest one whose now, he's a latecomer, he's now eight and he still can't cycle. 

And I can't, you know I can't sort of run round with him with a bike bending double to hold his saddle. So that's a regret, I can't do that. But, and I can't play football with him.

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