A-Z

Interview HA31

Age at interview: 69
Age at diagnosis: 67
Brief Outline: Heart attack May 2003, in hospital for six days. Angina attacks May-November. Coronary artery bypass surgery November 2003. Current medication' aspirin, ramipril, simvastatin
Background: Retired Managing Director; Living with partner, 5 children

More about me...

 

Enjoys the sharing, and the greater understanding he gets in his support group.

Enjoys the sharing, and the greater understanding he gets in his support group.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Several benefits. One, they're all like-minded people that they've all had heart problems or heart attacks or bypasses and all the rest of it. But I found the most beneficial thing was the speakers they get there to talk, and the last time I went was in October and they got this fantastic doctor and he explained everything in a way that I could really understand and I really did enjoy that. 

I'd love to have got hold of him after the meeting, ask him some more questions but I couldn't. But that's the benefits of it. Plus the fact they organise walks and trips out and things like this, which I'm very keen on being active and all the rest of it. So I find it as a support group, they're pretty good.

 

He learnt a lot from the talks at the support group he joined.

He learnt a lot from the talks at the support group he joined.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
One, they're all like-minded people that they've all had heart problems or heart attacks or bypasses and all the rest of it. But I found the most beneficial thing was the speakers they get there to talk, and the last time I went was in October and they got this fantastic doctor and he explained everything in a way that I could really understand and I really did enjoy that. I'd love to have got hold of him after the meeting, ask him some more questions but I couldn't. 

The way that he was talking, you said you found it really good the way he was talking, how was he talking to make it interesting?

He explained it in such a way. He gave all the odds against, if you have a heart attack, how long you're going to live after a heart attack. If you have bypass surgery, how long you can expect to survive after that and all the different things that can go wrong with you, and generally speaking he laid it out in a language that I could fully understand and knew exactly where I was, and I found that most beneficial. 

But he explained things about the cardiac, the heart that I didn't really know about and little things that he pointed out, I found most beneficial. 

 

It is difficult using the GTN spray in public but it is very effective in controlling his angina...

It is difficult using the GTN spray in public but it is very effective in controlling his angina...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well I refused to allow it [angina] to affect my life. What I did, I had the GTN spray. As soon as I knew it was coming on, I'd have a quick spray, I'd wait a few minutes, then on I'd go again and sometimes it was difficult if you've got company, you just can't bring it and spray it in company or in the middle of the dance hall. 

Sometimes I got caught out and then it was really, really bad. I'd sit down and crawl away in the corner, spray the GTN spray, then wait five or ten minutes for it to go away. 

Sometimes it was a bit difficult. Generally speaking I got it down to a fine art and the dawn of realisation that I was getting worse and worse, I knew it just couldn't go on forever. But it was quite a worrying time at the time.

Taking that spray, the actual effects of it, was that okay, what was it like taking the spray?

No problem at all, I just took it. It's just a little bit bitter in your mouth I suppose, and then you sit there and wait a few minutes and then you feel the pain in the arms have all gone.

 

He felt well informed before he signed the consent form for bypass surgery two weeks after his...

He felt well informed before he signed the consent form for bypass surgery two weeks after his...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
The surgeon, I think he was a very good communicator. He came and sat on the side of the bed, explained everything he was going to do. After the operation he came back and he explained everything he had done. 

And also he explained what's going to happen to me in the next few days because when he was talking to me, there's pipes sticking in my mouth and in my groin, all over the place. 

And he explained that progressively they was going to remove all the different pipes, and the purpose for them and everything else, and I thought it was marvellous that a surgeon would take the time out to explain everything he was going to do, or had done, in the next few days. And I was very, very impressed with this surgeon, I've got to be truthful. 

So the only person that was really good, as far as I was concerned, was the surgeon and he didn't mince his words, you know, he spat it straight out. 

He called a spade, a spade and I loved that, I knew exactly where I stood. I knew the risk from living and dying on the operation or from a stroke and everything else and that's the way I like it, I knew exactly where I stood. I knew the odds were against me but I went for it. 

 

Two days after his bypass surgery he was out of bed and walking a short way around the hospital.

Two days after his bypass surgery he was out of bed and walking a short way around the hospital.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I had the operation on the 27th November and on the 29th November, the operation was totally successful, I came round after a period of time and felt, you know it was nice to be alive so to speak, and I did feel good. Anyway on the 29th November, they got me out of bed and started walking me around the hospital, which really thrilled me. 

Then two days after that, they walked me a further distance around the hospital and I was really feeling good, and they gave me a badge to say I had walked the marathon around the hospital and I was virtually ready for discharge. On the 2nd December they discharged me. They put on a hospital car and they sent me home and from that day onwards, I've made very, very good progress.

 

Coming home after bypass surgery was daunting at first but he slowly built up his strength and...

Coming home after bypass surgery was daunting at first but he slowly built up his strength and...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
When I came home after the bypass, I was a bit shaky really because once you get home, it's nice to get home, but all of a sudden you realise you haven't got the support of that hospital round you [laughs]. You suddenly realise that you're on your own and the first few days it was rather daunting. 

But it was certainly quite an experience that all of a sudden you're home, but you haven't got the support of the hospital services around you. But you learn to cope with it and, slowly but surely, the confidence returns and you realise that you've got to get on and do the best you can, and that's exactly what my partner and myself did.

How did you build up that confidence?

Well as different things happened. I mean, I was very, very weak, very, very shaky but every day I went outside and I did a little walk and walked back and then we moved the table here and we had a little dance practice and a little sleep. 

And we just kept working and working to build up my strength and of course, meeting people and my children coming over and seeing me, the support of the family and everything else. 

It was all wrapped in together and, slowly but surely, the confidence returns and you get more and more ambitious and then after a month you suddenly realise that you can drive again. 

So jumping in the car and driving around gives you a little bit more confidence. So you keep building and building, as long as you're positive.

 

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

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

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But now I've had my operation and my scars funnily enough are first class, they've virtually faded. The surgeon how he did it I don't know, because when I was admitted to the local hospital, after I came out, the charge nurse and the doctor said, 'I've never seen such a good cut. It really, really is a good one,' she says. And I agree, it's fading so good, I can't believe it. So I'm happy about that.

Did you put anything on it to help it? Has it just faded on it's own?

It just faded on it's own, I do nothing. This is one of the reasons I want to go abroad. I think a bit of sunshine would help it a little bit more and that's what it needs now is a bit of sunshine now, and I'm convinced that it'll be virtually undetectable, not completely. But there again, that's the penalty you've got to pay for having blocked arteries I suppose [laughs].

And your leg, sometimes the leg is more of a trouble than the chest, was that okay?

No, no problem at all. I did wear a stocking, a pair of tights for the first six weeks, day and night. I never took them off except to wash them and change them and it's healed up perfectly, beautiful. I'm really, really pleased with it. I'm very, very pleased with the surgeon, there's no two ways about it.

 

He recommends a varied lifestyle combined with rest, diet, exercise and sleep.

He recommends a varied lifestyle combined with rest, diet, exercise and sleep.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well I enjoy being active and I know that the best thing to get back on your feet, the more active you can be, the better your body's going to respond. Make sure you eat all the right food. Meet a lot of people and eat particularly the right food and I feel all those ingredients, plus when you feel like a sleep then get down and have a good sleep. 

Now I always have a very good quality of sleep, I sleep very well at night. Quite often I sleep a half an hour in the daytime and I feel all those ingredients mixed together; good sleep, good food, good exercise, meeting good people, a varied lifestyle. 

They contribute to the overall package and there's nothing in isolation, I think you need every one of those segments to propel you forward and keep you fit and healthy.

 

He views each day as a bonus and makes sure he lives life to the full after his bypass surgery.

He views each day as a bonus and makes sure he lives life to the full after his bypass surgery.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I view the future now that I've got another bite of the apple if you like, or the cherry and I've got to make the best of every day. It's no good, you know if you cry in the corner, you cry on your own, is my attitude. The whole world's there, you can do whatever you want to do. 

I've tested myself; I can walk up to five miles a day without any problems. I can dance for two or three hours, I haven't got any problems. I can do everything, I feel I can do everything, so there's nothing to stop me doing anything I want to do. I've got to get on now and enjoy my life which I do and pick it up from where I left off and carry on and if I can help somebody else on the way, I will. 

But life is what you make it and you only come this way once. Tomorrow I can't come back and live today, I've got to make the best of today and get on with it and that's my attitude.

Previous Page
Next Page