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Interview HF17

Age at interview: 81
Age at diagnosis: 79
Brief Outline: 1994 angina. Heart attacks 1994 and 2001. Heart failure diagnosed 2001.
Background: Retired works manager; married with 2 children.

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He was taken off warfarin because of side effects.

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I've been very fortunate that the tablets that I've had I got on very well with the Aspirin, but then I was changed over to Warfarin, but Warfarin unfortunately was not good for me and caused me to bleed which was produced through my urine and eventually they said that I had to have x-rays and I was taken off Warfarin but during these x-rays they found that I had stones, so in January of 2003 I went in for stone removal and scraping of the prostate, but having said that, this present time having got my weight back to about 10st I have an excellent appetite and am enjoying life pretty well apart from the fact that the moment I start doing anything physical or doing anything too quick, I feel the effects of angina or something, but that's to be measured with the state of my heart which is very weak and the fact that I am 81 years of age.
 

Feels he can contact his heart failure nurse anytime.

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Well it's just fantastic, I've got a telephone number of her mobile, including her personal mobile number that I can contact her anytime and I have contacted her on a Saturday or a Sunday. I've contacted her when I've felt rough on a couple of occasions and she came up to see me here. When I felt I couldn't get the car out and drive down, it's only down the road, but she's been to see me, she's been like an angel she really has, and she said anytime, anytime I wanted to speak to her to ring her, it didn't matter when, how, even now and I say she's been extremely good.

 

Suggests that doctors need to make time for patients to ask questions.

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Yes, I think that today, going back on when I was in hospital in '47, that over the years there has been a closer, far closer co-operation between doctor and patient, and nurse and patient, than ever there was, but it's got to be even better. And I feel that if the doctors, I know again they're under pressure, they've got a big volume of work to do and they can't spend too much time with a particular person, but if they could make that small amount of time they have count, by answering a question, allowing a question to be asked. Because in some cases, some patients who are rather timid will not ask. Now I would because that's part of my makeup but those that are timid can be reassured on certain aspects or if they've got a weak heart, 'what do you mean a weak heart?' 'How's it affecting me personally?' and 'Should I do this?' 'Should I carry on living like this?'

We know that you have this aftercare and we know that you get this little booklets and things like that but it's not the same as the doctor or the consultant at the point of being sent home, telling you the main operative things or answering a question. 'Are there any questions you'd like to ask me?', providing it's not long, they may have to readjust the whole thinking but I think that won't take place until we have more doctors, more nurses, more places, and people have got more time to do what they would like to do.

 

He can no longer do ballroom dancing but he hopes to play golf.

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It hasn't affected it really, in the sense that what I do - of course I can't dance like we used to do. Although we go to a dance, where both of us were good dancers, ballroom dancers - and since I've had my heart attack even after the first one, when I had a very good quality of life, we'd go to a dance and dance and I'd dance round. Once round the floor and I'd be a bit fatigued, feel a bit of pressure across the chest in some cases, and I'd sit down, but after sitting down and missing a dance, have the same again, another dance. But during the holiday I've just had, I'm afraid I got up and tried to have two or three goes at dancing and couldn't. Just had that one of those, waiting two years for the holiday and it was just too much. But having said that, I could still walk about, I could still talk, still eat very well, still got my weight back.

I miss being as active and not playing my golf like I used to, and that really hurt because I used to be a good golfer, and it's only two years ago or 15 months ago and I used to go round the county with that, I used to love that, three times a week. That was all my sporting and that's all I needed to do really. But at my age now there's not many up at the golf course there of 80+ that do play, but if I go back and can get back and if I can do nine holes, once or twice a week I would be satisfied.

 

He divides his daily quota of tablets into three batches and keeps them in separate bowls.

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Well I've got a little bowl that I put I put them in and when I've taken the morning one, when I've taken the morning one, I then have one for 2 o'clock - just one at 2 o'clock - so I put them with a little note on the front there '2 p.m. lunch' then soon as I have that, I then put [out] my '6 p.m.' which is three, I have them, and the other six that I have, I have those in the morning anyway first thing, so I've also got a tab to make sure I've taken them right and I always cross-reference them with this booklet so to make sure that I'm getting the right tablets in the right place because when you take a number of tablets it's so very easy to forget one - miss one - so I make sure they're all in the container and then I know I've got my compliment for that particular occasion. 

Could you just tell me again how you take the pills, how you remember to take them?

Well how I take them is because I do allocate them into a small bowl from the packets, then I know I've got the complement for that particular occasion and when I've taken them, I then put out the ones for lunchtime into the bowl with a little card on the front of them, that's for 2 p.m., so that I'm not saying have I got these out for 6 o'clock or 9 o'clock in the morning so I know exactly how many I take in the container and when I take them and I do that three times a day.

 

 

Describes how he felt depressed for a time until his drugs were changed.

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Well, not really. I kept wondering what I could do, I was having all the tablets and the nurse was making adjustments up and down of various ones without deleting them because she wasn't in that situation to do that, and I was just suffering you know up and down. Obviously I had reasonable days but it was just a state that I was in, but when I felt good I'd go for a walk, but sometimes I didn't feel up to walking, and I'd just say that it's just like feeling, well with a sort of dose of flu. If you have a dose of flu, for those days you've got the flu you can't do anything. Well these were trailing over the whole of the year in dribs and drabs. And I knew everyone was trying to do their best and I was explaining, and whether or not people believed me, or whether they thought 'well don't be silly old chap, you know you're 81 and you know you've got a weak heart, what do you expect, do you expect to run around like a 20 year old!'. So I was held back a little bit by that thought, that you know 'alright I have to put up with some of this', but then I started to say, well 'do I have to put up with it - where's this quality of life?  All right I'll take it that I'm going to suffer this and I'm going to suffer that', but surely not that I don't want to eat anything on occasions that I had, that I couldn't sleep and I was on sleeping tablets.  I spent days without sleep and this was all running together, I was feeling rough, I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, and it was just going on and the year went so quickly and really I could just write last year off.

Well I felt like saying well what's worth living for because I couldn't do anything. I used to look at the... television and then I would just walk away and then I would get up and walk in and come and sit down and then I'd feel... I'd get up like this and do this, do this sort of thing it somehow calmed, it describe any more than I just felt like a zombie! That's all I can say.

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