That’s what my GP said when he told me to ring 999 for an ambulance last Wednesday morning, 8:30am, 10th December 2014, after I phoned the surgery complaining of chest pains.
For those of my friends that don’t already know, I’d better say up front that I am now perfectly well and back at home.
Within less than five minutes of calling 999 I was in an ambulance being told “you are having a heart attack”. N.B. not “you have had” or “you are going to have”, but “you are having”. Scary stuff. I really didn’t know much about heart problems and had equated “heart attack” with “coronary arrest” which isn’t the case. A heart attack is when the heart muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen and start to complain, and later, if untreated, to die. Coronary arrest is when the heart actually stops. Apparently around one in five untreated heart attacks result in coronary arrest and in sudden death.
The ambulance crew were absolutely brilliant, talking to me, letting me know what was happening and reassuring me that treatment was available and that the hospital could sort me out. They were also fantastic with my wife, Mary, calming her down when she walked in on the scene in progress.
Twenty minutes later I was being stretchered in to a hospital cardiology lab and surrounded by people. Within forty minutes they had found the problem and inserted three stents into my right coronary artery. This was painless, with only local anaesthetic and a catheter through my right wrist.
By 11am I was in the recovery ward, feeling none the worse for the experience, just exhausted. Two days later I’m back at home, actually feeling better than I have in months; I think some of my recent tiredness was related.
After that, only good news. Because of the operation, called a “Primary angioplasty”, my coronary arteries are nice and open and I am told I have less chance of having a heart attack than most people. I’m also told that there was only around 5% damage to my heart muscle so I’m very lucky.
I still have to reassess some life choices, think a bit more about my diet, do more exercise, and maybe loose a little weight, but I’m personally in a better place now than before this happened. I don’t think I can say the same for my family who were all scared half to death by the whole event, but I hope time will heal.
I must say that I’m in awe of the integrity, compassion and selfless commitment of all of the people I encountered in the NHS, truly one of the seven wonders of the modern world. They undoubtedly saved my life, as they have saved the lives of countless others.
I’m writing this to put my thoughts in order, to let everyone out there know what happened, and to avoid repeating myself in private correspondances. I’m also writing it to apologise for a few non-appearences at up-coming festive events; I’m going to be taking it very easy for at least the next couple of weeks. But basically life is still good, perhaps even better, despite the yellow card.
See you all in the new year.