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Interview HA18

Age at interview: 55
Age at diagnosis: 47
Brief Outline: Heart attack June 1995. Thrombolytic (clotbuster) drug. Current medication' aspirin, enalapril, bisoprolol, atorvastatin
Background: Retired Administration Manager; Married, no childrenEarly medical retirement

More about me...

 

He felt angry and frustrated because he thought he was too young to have a heart attack.

He felt angry and frustrated because he thought he was too young to have a heart attack.

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You feel absolutely shattered, you know really tired and quite depressed really. Plus a little bit of frustration because you want to do something about it but you're not altogether sure that you can do something about it. It's only afterwards that you learn that you can do things but you think, or at least in this area, the attitude still is, it's changing slightly now but the attitude was and is to a certain extent, 'You've had a heart attack, that's it. 

You don't do anything now, you can't do anything now.' And you know I was only 47 years old, I've got a life. You know I have ambitions to reach 97 and you think well all this is coming to an end; I'm on my way out. This is what my parents should be doing you know, it's not where I should be. This is for older people, much older people.

 

People have fun at his support group.

People have fun at his support group.

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We now as a support group, we do lots of exercise classes. We actually run them, we're doing something like ten a week now as a support group. We're getting twenty to twenty five people in each of these classes. Now we encourage partners and carer's if you like, to come along, so out of twenty to twenty five people in the class, more than half are actual heart patients. It's good, good fun. 

We do all kinds of other things; social activities, we have a dinner dance which we had last week, our annual dinner dance. Wonderful, a hundred people all enjoying themselves and I actually had a comment from one lady, 'How many of these people are actually heart patients?' 'Well at least half.' 'Wow, you wouldn't believe it. Look at them dancing rock & roll, wonderful disco, this is the way we go on.' Life continues, it gets better.

 

It was strange at first going back to work but wasn't long before his working life returned to...

It was strange at first going back to work but wasn't long before his working life returned to...

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Right from my own experience and from other people's experiences that I've met since, going back to work after a heart attack is strange at first. But within, I would say within two to three weeks, basically you're back to where you were before. Hopefully you've learnt that you've got to switch off now and again and you can't go writhing and tearing at things the way that you used to. 

But yeah, it all comes back and you become, it doesn't take you very long to get back in to your work and it doesn't take very long for the people you're working with to realise that you're not going down, you're going to be alright and then they start shouting at you, as they would have done. Yes, so going back to work after you've had a heart attack, [laughs] if you've got to do it, do it, it's okay. Yeah, it works.

 

Talks about what he did after his early medical retirement.

Talks about what he did after his early medical retirement.

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I relax, this is easier for me now because about a year after I'd had a heart attack, after spending a whole year telling everyone within the company I worked for that I was not an invalid, I was fit 100% and better than a 100% fit, eventually I was talked into, well I wasn't talked into it, I was told it would be better for me if I did leave work because the company were selling out to another company who basically didn't want me. 'Right'. 

I was given the opportunity to go with a nice pension. Very good. Eventually, 'yes I will go.' But since then, I went to college for a while, learnt a bit about horticulture. I did two and a half years helping out in a primary school, helping the kids with IT studies. I have, since then I have become involved with the support group. 

I'm also a member of the patient's council at the local Acute Hospitals Trust. I've just been told I've been accepted for a post on the patient's forum for the Primary Care Trust. Lots of things, it all goes on.

So you've been able to find other things to do?

[laughs] yes, I have no time for work. I couldn't hold down a job now.

At the beginning it must have been quite a gap?

No, because I went straight from work into college. I went full time to college. It was a bit different, the other people on the course were considerably younger than I was for a start of [laughs]. It was going back to school, you know, strange feeling but very enjoyable.

So lots of good opportunities have come out of it really.

Yes, yes when I say I changed my life, you know I meant it. My life has changed tremendously.

 

His wife was concerned about having sex but they overcame her worries by talking to each other.

His wife was concerned about having sex but they overcame her worries by talking to each other.

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Resuming your sex life after a heart attack, it's quite difficult. It wasn't so much difficult for me as for my wife actually. She was very concerned that I was going to throw another wobbler, but once you get over it, it's okay, yeah life comes back to normal and as for the beta blockers, I wouldn't say it's affected me greatly, no.

And your wife getting over that, is there anything that helped?

What helped was talking. You have to, you have to always, you can tell when things are not quite right, 'So what is the problem?' 'Oh I'm a bit concerned, I don't want you to hurt yourself, I don't want you to.' 'Okay I'm not going to hurt myself, I'm aware of what I'm doing. If I hurt, you'll know.' But it's not a problem.

 

You may not be able to do some of the things you did before but life can still be good.

You may not be able to do some of the things you did before but life can still be good.

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It seems as if having a heart attack is not confined to older people. It happens to younger and younger people. I know people in their thirties who are having heart attacks now. It's a bit worrying but it does happen and I think they're the ones we've got to get through to that you can do something. 

You can do anything. You'll learn your limitations and there are limitations, there are things you don't want to be doing. You don't want to be playing Rugby or anything like that, you know those sort of physical games, you don't want to do that but you can do badminton, you can do tennis, run, you can cycle, swim. 

Yeah, you can live a life and you can do your work. You don't want to be lifting massive weights all the time but you can do a job of work and you can do a very good job of work and there's no reason why you shouldn't. Just because you've had a heart attack, doesn't mean you've got to give in.

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