How a moment can change your life

I’ve seen a lot of ill health over the years, friends, family and my own, too much. The last 4 years have been particularly bad for my own health with around 2 years of reoccurring UTI later suspected to be a prostate issue. The following 2 years have been dealing with the aftermath of the adverse reaction caused by the Ciprofloxacin I was given to cure the prostate issue! It’s been a long, tiring and stressful period of life and one I had hoped would eventually pass leaving me with relatively decent health to live the rest of my days.

Yesterday things changed somewhat and once again I’m facing an uncertain future and life. I have for many years dealt with having a slightly fast pulse and slightly raised blood pressure. However it was always assumed that the cause was simply anxiety, the go to diagnosis when doctors don’t really know what’s causing a problem. Last year I started to develop slightly longer episodes of palpitations than I was used to and I was referred to a cardiologist. It took over 3 months to see the doctor and after an initial appointment I was referred to have an echocardiogram. I could see that the doctor wasn’t convinced anything was actually wrong but to appease me and my concerns he booked it. Another 3 months passed and the echocardiogram was done and showed no obvious issues.. hurray!

However I had some additional symptoms that started to develop in particular some discomfort on the left side under my ribs. I assumed this was digestive in origin and once again figured anxiety was the culprit. Then I had an episode of quite acute chest pain during a stressful encounter with a car driver who was driving right up my rear end. This was followed by a number of chest pain episodes caused by exertion and again stress. I notified the cardiologist and provided a detailed report of what had been going on and they decided to refer me to have a CT coronary angiogram but again it would take weeks or longer. The problem was that I am supposed to be flying to Florida from the UK in July and I wasn’t sure if I could fly.

So I ended up spending a lot of money to get the scan performed privately in order to speed things up. That was done on Monday in Wales, a very professional and nice hospital which has once of the most advanced scanners in the UK. It didn’t go exactly to plan as they struggled to get my heart rate down to the magic 60bpm event with heaps of beta blocker. I ended up having a longer scan than I had hoped and therefore more radiation but it was necessary. I got home Monday feeling pretty unwell and with a much increased shortness of breath. I stopped the beta blockers I had been taking in the hope those symptoms would reduce which then did, but the adrenaline type sensations have returned since. I’m currently waiting to get some alternative drugs to decrease the work the heart is doing.

So the results were sent to NHS cardiologist on Wednesday morning and I chased for an update. Although I was told the report had been passed on and I would get a response I heard nothing all day even after I chased multiple times. Then again yesterday I chased multiple times and had pretty much given up when I finally had a call at around 6.30pm.

It was one of those moments when reality seems to fade away for a moment and the voice in your ear becomes noise and meaningless. Expecting that he was going to tell me it was normal and again likely stress I was totally unprepared for the “we’ve found a narrowing in the left major artery that feeds your heart” that entered my ear. It took a moment for my mind to make sense of the words and then the realisation hit, I’ve got a problem with my heart, it’s not anxiety. He explained that he couldnt be certain of the extent of the narrowing without doing a full angiogram so he was going to book an emergency appointment (still 1 to 2 weeks on the NHS) and once that was done they would decide how to treat the condition. Basically the scale of narrowing will dictate whether I’m put on medication, have a stent or worse case need a bypass.

Now part of the reason this is all so unexpected is that I’m not high risk for heart disease. I have never smoked, I might have 1 or 2 beers a year! I have. Pretty healthy diet, my cholesterol is normal and my weight is only slightly higher than it should be. Yet somehow I have developed heart disease… as if the floxing wasn’t bad enough.

So now I have an unknown again whilst I wait and I know it’s highly unlikely I will be able to make the holiday to Florida in a few weeks time. The best I can hope for is relatively early stage build up and a successful stent placement which should in theory give me some years of better health. At 47 I have rather a lot to do in life yet, there’s too much that has been put on hold the last few years with my partner Caroline and my family and I need to amend that, get life on track, fix the broken things and make the most of the life ahead. When these things happen in life you realise that stress, jobs, things out of your control in the world, possessions, big salaries etc… all mean nothing in the end. Without your health you have nothing and all the material things and the stupid worries simply cause you anxiety and lost time you can’t ever get back.

Hoping for a better few weeks!

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