It was just another Thursday morning with the traffic and meetings to navigate, however this was to change quite quickly and dramatically.
To wind the clock back a bit, the Monday before had seen me having a rare sick day. I couldn’t put my finger on it, I just felt ‘grotty’. Being type 2 diabetic, I put it down to that.
This Thursday had started as usual, but I had a strong feeling of unease. I had not eaten anything, so tea and toast would sort it out, right? I had a further meeting planned for the Thursday afternoon, so I pushed it forward in the hope of getting this day done and getting home. Even without the pressure of my afternoon meeting, I was still feeling unwell and breathing was getting difficult.
Two of my colleagues asked if I was okay. I must have looked unwell, but I told them I was fine. Actually, by now my nausea had set in, and I was feeling worse than I initially did.
When my next meeting called to say she couldn’t make it, I felt absolute relief. By now, my left arm was feeling numb. It wasn’t tingly, it just felt like a dead arm you give each other as kids in the playground. I was having a heart attack.
This wasn’t a TV style heart attack. There was no loss of consciousness, and nobody was dramatically shouting ‘CLEAR’. Instead, I had a really sickly feeling and a pressure in my chest was making it difficult to breathe. As I got home, my body rebelled against me. ‘You’re home early’, said my wife, ‘I’ll phone an ambulance’ – I must have looked awful.
Working with practiced precision, the ambulance crew had me hooked up and diagnosed within minutes. The team leader explained everything to myself and my wife quietly but firmly, and they told me it was Broadgreen for me. ‘Broadgreen is the heart hospital’ I said. Yes, I was still in denial.
In no uncertain terms, I was told that I was having a heart attack – and it was happening right then and there. ‘No I’m not, I am a known malingerer and I just need a brew’, but arguing my case wasn’t working anymore.
The rest is a bit of a blur, a mix of Morphine and bemusement. I was checked in, assessed, sent to theatre, and then the critical care ward. This was all done within around 4 hours, start to finish.
This was half a day that changed everything. Or was it? I am part of one of the worst groups for taking health advice, and for acting on ill health. What is this group? Men over fifty.
All the warning signs were there. Chest pain, dead arm, nausea and breathing difficulties. These signs need to be acted upon, not ignored.
Men over 50 – heed this message. It is time to take stock, and to understand what your body needs from you, not what you need your body to do.
It’s time for an NHS Health Check, ask at your GP today.
After years of giving advice, it was time for me to take some.
I gave up smoking and drinking years ago. These are two big risk factors, but I still eat like a teenager and sporty stuff has decreased in direct proportion to the use of my knees.
Men, my advice is that we all need to understand that we’re no longer teenagers. As my own teenager might say, ‘Get over it.’
I am now one month in and I’m back at work. In fact, here's a picture of me today:
Thanks to everyone who helped me in those 4 hours.
Have that Health Check, listen to what you are told and act on it.