So in conclusion?
Having heart disease hit me completely out of the blue. No one in my family has ever had a heart problem. No one expected me to have a heart problem. My age and gender played a part in the fact that even with all my symptoms, I wasn’t correctly diagnosed until 18 months after my pains started. And even after a cardiac event, where I was admitted to hospital for my body literally ceasing to function in the post office, my coronary problems were not identified..
I still don’t really know why it happened to me. I have heard several theories: pre-menopause very few women experience heart disease. After the menopause, when the levels of oestrogen in the body drop, the heart is less protected and the rates of heart disease in men and women become more equal. My periods had stopped relatively early and about the time my pains started. I even went to the doctor at the time to see if I should be doing anything HRT wise. He gave me a pregnancy test, which was negative, and pretty much patted me on the head and sent me away.
It was mentioned that the artery that was blocked may have been slightly more ‘kinked’ than normal and hence could have silted up more quickly with cholesterol rather like a river. A healthy smoking habit early on in my life obviously hadn’t helped..
My job as retail manager demanded such long working hours that my eating habits were very sporadic. I drank a lot of lattes and ate a lot of sugary foods for the instant energy hits. Also the stress of being performance managed whilst still conscientiously working a 50+ hour week. Maybe none or all of these things and I’ll never know for certain.
When I first thought about writing all of this down I guess it was for me to try and process what was going on. The more I got into it, it became a kind of crusade for women kind who are more often misdiagnosed than men because the data simply isn’t available. And women are dying. I am acutely aware that the day before my cardiac event in the Post Office I was up a ladder, home alone, painting the landing. Had I crash landed then, no one would have been there to hear me scream, my brain would have been starved of oxygen and that could well have been it. Fortunately, I was in a very public place accessible to a nearby paramedic.
Thank you paramedic. Seriously, thank you.
A friend of mine’s sister, about my age, was not as lucky and never regained consciousness.
As I looked into it more though, this is happening to men too. Guys who, to look at, would never fit a profile for having a potential heart problem. Who otherwise look fit and healthy but, for whatever reason, simply have a heart attack.
So I guess this has become a cautionary tale. We all have to die of something right? Had I died in the Post Office I would actually have been blissfully unaware. It would have been rubbish for everybody else. But basically shit happens. And never take it for granted when you wake up in the morning that you’re still going to be there to fall asleep again in the evening.
Now I have a job with regular hours, relatively stress free. I have time to eat breakfast and even time to choose which whey flavour I want with my muesli in the morning. I have a regular lunch hour, which is properly my own time, and can eat a pre made protein heavy pack lunch. I finish work at 5pm so can go home and eat a proper meal with my husband in the evening. I also have evenings (unlike in corporate retail) to do a regular Tai Chi class and still do two gym classes a week – now lifting heavier things! And I have time for pubs and gigs and quality time with the people in my life who are dear to me. The life I lead allows me to put my well being way at the top of my agenda and this is really important.
There are so many people to thank I don’t even know where to start.
From the people I know and love, to the incredible hospital staff and the people who have lived and died in medical research and beyond. And lets not forget Werner Forssman who in 1929, put himself under local anesthesia and inserted a catheter into a vein of his arm. Not knowing if the catheter might pierce a vein, he put his life at risk. He was nevertheless successful and safely passed the catheter into his heart. This was the exact procedure I had in the diagnostic stages. All these people and many many more ensured that physically and emotionally I got through this and live to drum.
I am therefore hugely grateful to the scientific and medical discoveries which enabled me to receive the treatment I needed and I wholeheartedly thank every single person who has played a role in this story, however small, in keeping me on this planet for a few years more.
And thank YOU from the bottom of my now hopefully fixed heart. I have had so many responses from horror, through tears and laughter to disbelief. But the responses have all been real and human and (excuse me, but…) heartfelt. We are a wonderful species when we want to be. Make love not war blah blah blah
P.S Don’t eat all the mince pies. they’ll knock your pie chart right out.
One thought on “Chapter #20 i don’t want to leave this life (evening lights) – fjokra – 2018”
Wonderful writing Lucy, as I said you need to write more.. it has been an honour to know your journey and your thoughts here. I found it unique, funny, scary and everything in between.
Here’s to more drumming and creativity to come.. Juls x