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Interview HA33

Age at interview: 37
Age at diagnosis: 36
Brief Outline: Heart attack 2003. Thrombolytic (clotbuster) drug. Severe chest pain several months later, angioplasty and stent 2003. Current medication' clopidogrel, aspirin, bisoprolol, simvastatin, ramipril, lansoprazole
Background: Office Clerk; Living with partner, 1 child

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She had to push herself to go out for walks when she came home from hospital.

She had to push herself to go out for walks when she came home from hospital.

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At first I wouldn't even want to walk outside the door and then after a little while, you know, I started going for little walks and doing this and that and the other. 

But, I went out for a walk yesterday but that was the first time in a week because I'd been in hospital and that so I know I've got to, you know, slowly go and do things again now. It's so easy not to do it, though. 

It's so easy like just to sit back and just watch the world go by and not be a part of it, it's just, sometimes it's easier just to sit in here and watch everybody else than go out there and do it yourself. So I have to push myself, I do have to push myself.  
 

It's difficult to understand when doctors use medical terminology and jargon.

It's difficult to understand when doctors use medical terminology and jargon.

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I think they need to sit down, you know, at the same level as you and explain things in a language that you understand because sometimes when they, when they say things, you know, you need to know all the procedures. When they speak in medical terms that's just no good for me, anyway, I don't understand all the medical terms. 

But, on the whole, the doctors and nurses were, were brilliant and, well, the ones that I've actually seen myself. No, no, everybody that I've seen, I haven't got no, no problems with anyone that I've seen, no.  

It must be difficult for, for them doing their jobs as well because, you know, they're trying to help somebody who's had a heart attack but, as much as they, it's hard, probably hard for them to understand the patient as it is for the patient to understand what the doctor's trying to say as well, so. And when you do have a heart attack you're all in shock and you don't know what you're talking about, anyway I didn't, just didn't have a clue.  
 

She describes the series of tests she had done in the ambulance and in hospital.

She describes the series of tests she had done in the ambulance and in hospital.

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They wired me up to the ECG monitor [in the ambulance] which actually goes straight through to the coronary care unit at the hospital so at the coronary care unit the Sister there could see whether or not it was anything wrong with my heart which she could see it was, so when I got to the hospital it was just straight to coronary care. 

In coronary care it was just, everything happened so fast and the team were, just working on you like from all directions, there's a doctor, there's nurses, you know, they're taking blood, they're doing this, they're doing that. So that all happened so, so fast and some of it was like a bit of a blur as well. 

I can't really recall everything that happened while I was actually in coronary care. All I know is that they worked really fast to get me stable. So that's when, you know, they actually realised that I was having a heart attack and just spoke to me obviously to make sure that they were going to give me the correct drugs, just asked me a few questions and, basically, that's all I can remember there for a little while because then I was just in a daze. 

It felt like I was drifting and I just recall people and, I didn't, I wasn't actually unconscious but I think I might have been drifting in and out while I was in coronary care. So, but then they got me stable and then, over the next few days in coronary care it was, obviously they just wanted me to rest and get better the best that I could. 

They did an echo of my heart which, there was some slight damage to my heart but not a great deal of damage to my heart. And then, before they'd let me come home I had to go on a sort of like it was a stress test, they call it, where I just had to go on a treadmill and be all wired up and monitored up to, to see whether my heart got into any difficulty, which it did after so many minutes of doing exercise. 

So they decided then that I'd have to have an angiogram and I had to wait a few months to have the angiogram and it, and when I had the angiogram they decided that because of one of my arteries was narrowed 90% that I would benefit from having an angioplasty and, and a stent. 
 

She felt angry and depressed at having a heart attack when she was only thirty-seven.

She felt angry and depressed at having a heart attack when she was only thirty-seven.

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Yeah, tired and still depressed and down and, because I don't know, who'd have thought I'd have to have the stent put in and I don't know, it's all so, so much to cope with at 37.

I think that's, maybe that's one of my main problems, it's because of my age and I, I just find it all so hard to cope with and I find it, even now I find it difficult to cope with because I look at some people and they're like older than me and I think, you know, they haven't had a heart attack and they're doing this and they're doing that and, and they smoke and, you know, I just look at other people and I think, and they're really overweight and then, they eat like this and that and, you know, so you start judging. You know, you start judging, I know you shouldn't but, you know, I can't help it sometimes.
 

She didn't feel confident to do too much during the three months she waited for an angiogram.

She didn't feel confident to do too much during the three months she waited for an angiogram.

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I was very, very anxious all the time. I was very, very down. I didn't want to do anything, as much as they encouraged me to go out walking and do bits and pieces, I didn't want to do anything. The only thing I didn't mind doing was going to the hospital, twice a week it was at the time, to go to my rehabilitation class because I was round professional people and they could help me if anything went wrong so it's confidence.  

You've got no confidence to go out and do anything because, you know, you're always panicking and any little pain that you get, you think, oh my gosh, you know what I mean? Is anything else going to happen so that was, that was the worst, was waiting. Because if I'd had one heart attack and they hadn't treated the cause, then you know, was I going to have another? So that was the worst thing, was waiting to have that done and that was a long few months, that was, waiting.  
 

She found it tiring at first being back at work on a part- time basis.

She found it tiring at first being back at work on a part- time basis.

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When you did go back to work for those few days what were they like?

A bit strange. Because I still tried to do the same amount of work as what I did when I was full-time. I still tried to do the same jobs and everything as what I did before, so, but all, everything I, it's an administration job so it's like, sit down, it's paperwork, it's sorting things out and it's just basically being tidy and efficient and organised.  

And you know, that's what I do anyway so. It was strange going back to work. The first like few weeks I got really tired really quick and just couldn't wait to get back home and that, so, but now I'm slowly getting more into work.  
 

She would have worried less if her doctors had given her more information.

She would have worried less if her doctors had given her more information.

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Yeah, you had to push for any information that you want, really. It's not just, they're not just forthcoming. They say, if they just say, 'right, this is what's happened, this is what we're going to do,' basically that's it. 

I know the doctors are busy, you know, they've got, hundreds of people to see and lots of clinics to run and everything but, when you're there, you want to be their number one and you're not bothered about the person they've got to go and see in the next ward. 

The only thing you're interested in is you and I think the more that you're told and the more, the more that you understand, the better you feel about it. And then you're not just left in the dark and wondering and worrying 
 

She lost her confidence and hasn't wanted to have sex for quite a time after her heart attack.

She lost her confidence and hasn't wanted to have sex for quite a time after her heart attack.

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At first you're too scared, you're too scared, too scared to have sex because you're frightened in case you're going to have a heart attack. You know, your blood pressure's going to get high and have a heart attack, and for me, because I feel depressed and down all the time, I don't feel the slightest bit sexy at all. You know, I just, I've got no confidence or anything so, it's just knocked my sex life out the window completely at the moment.  

It's something I do need to address with my doctor because whether it's a physical thing or, or mental thing, you know, I do need to speak. They say if, you know, if you do suffer depression you haven't, and don't fancy sex that you do need to speak to somebody about it because there is supposed to be something wrong if that's the case, so, so, no. For me personally, you're frightened, and now, because I feel depressed and down, I don't feel nice or anything so I don't want to. 

That's the way that I feel, I don't want to. So then that creates a bad feeling at home because like my partner obviously feels rejected because I don't want to. But it's not because I don't want to because I don't feel the same way about him; it's how I feel about myself, so. But it's trying to explain that to him. But he doesn't understand that it's not because I don't care for him, it's just I don't really care too much about myself at the moment so that's why.
 

Reiki sessions helped her to cope with depression.

Reiki sessions helped her to cope with depression.

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I was very, very low and I mean very, very low. Tearful, depressed, depressed is the only word I can describe, really, really depressed. And I didn't want to go out the door. I didn't want to go out the door, I didn't want to do anything. Even after having that done, I still was so depressed and down and I didn't want to do anything. 

It was only [the cardiac nurse's] support that got me through it and [the cardiac nurse's] help by her like relaxation classes and the Reiki healing and that's what I found for my release from all that depression, that's the only thing that helped me.

And what was it about it, tell me about that?

Well, I think with [Reiki] it was her, it was the one-to-one basis, it's not, it's not being done in a class and then you can get to speak to somebody and she can find out more about you and find out why you've had a heart attack and why you're still feeling down. And so she spent the time with me to get to know why I'd had my heart attack, why I felt so down, so she had something to work on then. 

And so she just helped me learn to relax because after you've had a heart attack the last thing you want to do is relax. You know, you're scared to go to sleep in case you don't wake up again. So she just reassured, she gave me a lot of reassurance and a lot of help, a hell of a lot of help.
 

Describes having angioplasty and says it was less painful than she had expected.

Describes having angioplasty and says it was less painful than she had expected.

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The angioplasty was, which I had at the specialist hospital they just, it's similar to an angiogram but, obviously, they did treatment on this one. What basically, what they do is they just shave your groin area where they insert a tube like a catheter which they run up through your artery and up towards your heart. 

And, and then they insert, it's like a little, tiny balloon which they blow up to open up the artery and then they left in a little mesh stent to keep the artery open. You're, you're awake while they're doing it. Its uncomfortable but its not, its not painful, its just, there's a discomfort. 

Its a bit like going to the dentist I'd say, the same sort but I was terrified of having that done because, obviously, it was just like, you know, something that you don't, never want to have done in your lifetime and then, the fact that I was like 37 and about to have that done, I was really terrified but the team, they were as good as gold and just, they do it every day so to them its nothing. 
 

Having to reduce her hours at work meant less money to spend on family activities.

Having to reduce her hours at work meant less money to spend on family activities.

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And because I only work part-time I obviously don't get as much money as what I used to so the financial side of things is totally, totally different now. So, obviously, I had to cut back and watch what I spend and that now, whereas before my heart attack I was just like working and just getting on and so all of a sudden working part-time, half the hours, I get half the money and stuff so things have, things have changed like that way. 

So even though I'm not like a money-orientated person but you're used to that much money to live on and then all of a sudden when that's cut in half, you know, your bills don't all of a sudden go in half, do they? So, I've had to like re-budget things and that.  

And like my daughter's had to like, she's got like a little Saturday job so she buys some of her own clothes and bits and pieces like that to take the pressure of me, which, she's been as good as gold in that sense and that. But, I just want to go back to work, go back to work full-time, and then just save up and have a holiday.  
 

Was worrying about her stent clogging up, but that's getting less, and positive thinking is...

Was worrying about her stent clogging up, but that's getting less, and positive thinking is...

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Sometimes I get scared because I'm, you know, I think, 'oh my God, what if, what if anything happens to this stent and what if, you know, what if, what if, what if.' And then I'm thinking I've got to stop thinking, 'what if' and just get on with it and just, you know, go out, go out there and just do things. 

But, a lot better than what I did 6 months ago, that's the only way I can say at the moment, you know. I do see myself with a little future now whereas before I was just thinking, oh my God, this is the end for me and that, so I am getting there, slowly but surely I'm getting there, so.

You said you felt it was the end for you?

Yeah, I did, I felt, you know, I thought, 'oh my God, I kept, for ages I kept thinking I was going to die.' You know, I kept thinking, 'oh my God I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I've had a heart attack, I'm going to die, you know.' Even when I had the stent, I thought 'I've had the stent, if it's going to clog up it's going to do this, it's going do that,' you know. 

I just felt so negative about everything and now I just think, you know, you've had that stent, you know, if it was going to clog up it would have clogged up by now and, you know, I just try to think as positive as, you know, as much as I can. 

I try to, you know, just think, you know, you're going to be okay, you've done this, you've done that and, so. I want to look forward to like, you know, just normal things like everybody else but sometimes it's, you know, difficult, it's difficult.  
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