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Interview HA30

Age at interview: 63
Age at diagnosis: 53
Brief Outline: Heart attack/cardiac arrest December 1993, in hospital for two weeks. 2nd heart episode, January 1994, in hospital for two weeks. Current medication' aspirin, Tildiem Retard, GTN, simvastatin, ezetrol ezetimibe
Background: Retired Sales Manager; Married, 2 childrenEarly medical retirement, age 58

More about me...

 

He was very upset when one of the other patients died on the ward.

He was very upset when one of the other patients died on the ward.

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Then one night, one of the guys who I'd had the most fun with, he'd had a triple bypass, he had breathing problems and he was forever on one of these snorkel things. But he had a bad attack one night and panic alarm went and staff appeared from everywhere trying to look after him, but they, they just couldn't keep him going and he died. 

And I was upset about that, because he was a nice chap and we'd had some good fun and it just upset me to realise that just over there, the other side of the room, this, this guy had died. Now he certainly wasn't the first person I'd seen die, and so on. 

But the circumstances and the fact that it was his heart, alarmed me I suppose; just started bells ringing and within a couple of hours I had my first ever angina attack. 

 

He was severely depressed for many months after his heart attack.

He was severely depressed for many months after his heart attack.

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I didn't want to go to bed, but then I never wanted to get up in the morning. I just, I really couldn't face the days. I was, it was so much, I was completely depressed; which was new to me, I didn't understand it, I didn't know I was depressed. I was actually suicidal but I didn't realise I was depressed, that had to be explained to me. 

I was having panic attacks over absolutely nothing. And I could just be on my own and just think of old army mates, or [sighs] or what I should be doing, and I'd panic, and it, and, panic attacks are absolutely dreadful. 

I wouldn't try to explain to anybody what a panic attack is because I'm just not clever enough to explain it, but it is absolutely dreadful. And because you don't know what caused it, it's difficult to stop it. It just goes on and on and on. 

 

He felt severely depressed, frightened and had lost his confidence after his heart attack.

He felt severely depressed, frightened and had lost his confidence after his heart attack.

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That then was crunch time for me. Any confidence I'd had before just drained away. I, from that moment on, I became a failure. I did everybody down, I'd never be good enough to do anything worthwhile again. It was all psychological but it was overwhelming, and from that day I have never been the same. It was quite, quite horrendous. 

To go from being over-confident to frightened of everybody and everything that went on; every noise from then was tremendous. Anyone coming near me, apart from two of the doctors, even the nurses frightened me. Two of the doctors I welcomed seeing them, wife and family, fine. Any stranger; I actually retreated from them, I was terrified of them. They were a threat and I couldn't understand why, it was just there, but everything ensued; panic attacks.

Ever since I've had angina I don't go 48 hours without having angina. I get, there never seems to be any reason for it to happen. I eventually did come out of hospital after a, I was there for a fortnight. But when I got home, nothing was the same. I wasn't the same. 

There were days I would quite happily have died. I'd made up my mind, that if I had another heart attack, I wasn't going to be the one to send for an ambulance because I did not like what was happening to me; it was just so horrific, so depressing, miserable, it was just no way to live. And this of course was only a month after I'd had the original heart attacks. 

 

Describes how early medical retirement affected him.

Describes how early medical retirement affected him.

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I was still on Prozac which stopped sheer depression. But my confidence you know I'd, I'd built up enough confidence to go back to work, but then that again started to drain away and I felt inadequate, I couldn't cope. Then my immediate bosses started to be difficult. I think they must have realised that perhaps I wasn't going to last and they needed somebody younger and somebody fitter. So they quite deliberately put pressure on me. 

Eventually the company had enough of it, and their insurers also had enough of it. And so I went onto ill-health early retirement, and that was it finished. But again that was another knock; everything seemed to be a knock. If I failed in anything at all, it was huge, it was tremendous. No matter how trivial in real life it, it might be, if I failed something then I just felt, 'Well what's the point in me living, I just don't need to be around' and all this stems back to having had a heart attack. 

I cannot get rid of this idea I'm a failure, because I'm 63, I've been out of work several years now and nobody will employ me in, in a sort of a job that I should have, the challenge and salary and all that sort of thing that I should command because I don't have the confidence and with angina, nobody wants to see you having angina every day in an office or whatever. So no, I can understand employers not, not wanting to touch me. 

But, although in one respect I'm not bothered about being unemployed because I've always got something to do. It still makes me feel a failure because I think I should still be out at work, not for financial reasons, I've got a lousy pension, which is a struggle, and I'm not yet entitled to the State Pension. I just have to change my life to suit the very low income I have coming in. 

 

Through Reiki techniques, he learnt to relax and control his breathing.

Through Reiki techniques, he learnt to relax and control his breathing.

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Okay this nurse suggested that I try Reiki and I didn't want to because I just felt, absolute rubbish. I don't believe in because some Tibetan monk can hypnotise somebody that it works for everybody, and this that and the other. But I had confidence in that particular nurse, so I was happy to give it a go, and from the very first session I thought it was wonderful. 

Breathing, I'd had so much trouble with breathing, suddenly I could breathe, relax and breathe. Tension just flooded out of me the moment she took control of me; the moment she started the sessions. And I really got into it. And well, this works, this is, this is good. And I learned to relax, the relaxation was the important thing and breathing, control of my breathing.

 

He gets breathless walking up a hill or it brings on an angina attack.

He gets breathless walking up a hill or it brings on an angina attack.

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I physically got fitter, I was able to take the dog out again. Gradually getting better but always having angina, and having the same problem that many people with heart problems have; not being able to walk up hills. Now I'm fortunate we've got, we're in a valley so I'm unfortunate in that whichever way I try to leave the village there's a hill to get up. 

But there is a canal and the path from where the locks are, and of course it's very flat and I can walk for hours and hours and so can the dog. So my legs and so on improved, but not my stamina, to this day I cannot get fit. I cannot run, if I had to run across the road because there was a bus coming, I'd have angina. The slightest hill I've learned to stop, get my breath back, and then carry on. 

But a little hill that you'd, you'd cycle up, and think nothing of, I can sometimes have to stop three times, otherwise I know I'm going to get angina. And not every day's the same. I get out of breath very, very quickly going up a hill, but I don't always get angina. But I'm always aware the angina's there, so I've always got panic pills with me, I call them 'panic pills' [GTN tablets].  

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