Life after a heart attack

After a life-changing experience I am back in action.

A few days after my last post  I had a heart attack, I had been experiencing some fairly mild chest and shoulder pains for a couple of weeks but assumed they were caused by an old shoulder injury and neck problem for which I had been visiting a physiotherapist.

On Wednesday 29 September, I woke up feeling some discomfort in my chest and shoulder, with a vague feeling that I had not slept well. I set off for an early morning physiotherapy appointment about 25 miles away. After my visit, I felt worse. I did not feel capable of driving safely so I rested for an hour then drove back to the farm.  I attended to a couple of urgent things then went home.

When Sue arrived an hour later she immediately took me to the emergency room at our local hospital where it was confirmed that it was a heart attack. Nitroglycerine quickly eased the pain, medication and oxygen brought my blood pressure and heart rate down and I was transferred to a bed in the critical care unit.

After two days, I was taken by ambulance (yet another new experience) to a larger hospital in London for an angiogram. Later that day I was permitted to walk to the bathroom and after another two days, I went home. 

Fortunately, it was not too serious, a relatively small part of my heart was affected, only one artery was blocked and the prognosis for a normal life is good. I was very lucky.

The questions going through my mind while in hospital were firstly, why me? I have always been very active, ran 1000’s of miles in my 30’s and 40’s, including many marathons and ultra-marathons, ridden horses all my life, eaten healthily and not been overweight. Yes, I did smoke on and off for many years but also stopped for many years and only smoked a few cigars a day for the last 5 years. I did live with a lot of stress when in the corporate world and my own business, then experienced a very stressful period during the farm invasions in Zimbabwe.

From talking to the doctors, it appears that there is also an element of the unknown at work here. Some people can avoid all the risk factors and still have a heart attack, others can lead seriously unhealthy lives and get away with it. In my case I will never know exactly what caused a piece of plaque to dislodge from the artery wall, form a clot and stop the blood supply to an area of my heart.  

Was it because my horse behaved very badly when I tried to get on him on Sunday, spinning around and bucking until I took him for a hard gallop through the field ? Was it because I got irritated when I got the truck stuck in the mud? Who knows.

The second question was, how will this affect my life ?

I see this as a huge opportunity to achieve my vision, I have been trying to reduce my involvement with the farm and spend more time on my Network Marketing and Internet business. Sue and I also want to travel more and spend more time riding our horses. So although there is a feeling of apprehension about replacing the farm income quickly, there is  a far greater feeling of excitement and enjoyment that we are already starting to live life on our terms.

Exercise is a critically important part of my recuperation, because I now control my daily schedule completely, I am able to include a 40 minute walk with my dog every morning. I also frequently walk again with Sue in the afternoon. Yesterday I got on my horse for the first time since I got out of hospital and now I have the time to ride him or the others every day.

Obviously it’s not all play and there will be ups and downs ahead, but I am grateful that I survived,  am still healthy enough to enjoy life and can only see the benefits of this enforced life style change.

I must thank all the staff at Woodstock Hospital, Victoria Hospital London and the ambulance service. They were all wonderful. I am also grateful for the Canadian Health system – I have complained about it before – but when I experienced a serious problem, it did not let me down.

It has been very easy to give up my few cigars a day and also to make some changes to my diet, it’s amazing what you can do with the right motivation!

I continue using Asea twice a day, I am sure that it has helped my recovery and contributes to me finding the energy to walk twice a day.

So, don’t think it can’t happen to you,  listen to your bodies, take the best care of yourselves you can and if you experience unusual chest or shoulder pain – even mild – get it checked out.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours and good health!

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  5 comments for “Life after a heart attack

  1. AllUCanBe (Barb)
    October 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Hey Peter!

    Had seen a few comments you’d not been well, but didn’t know until I read this today that it was a heart attack. I am so glad you’re okay and that it’s served as a wake up cal for you and your wife to enjoy life like you want.

    I also think it’s great you did this post as it warns many on some of the signs to be aware of. It’s wonderful you’re taking the time to walk and that you’ve made the decision to reduce stress, the money will come and you’ll have a new found perspective on living life with joy!

    Although our Canadian health care system has its faults, it truly is there when you need critical care and I’m forever thankful for so many reasons that we have it.

    Wishing you a continued renewed recovery.

    Take care, Barb

    • admin
      October 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks Barb

  2. October 26, 2010 at 4:23 am

    yes that an interesting point.. i have just got out of hospital and can use computer again been spending all my time on this website great medical reference site worth bookmarking to look up health and medical problems.

  3. May 17, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Its great to hear other peoples experience after they have a heart attack. I to had one and there are alot of scary things that go on in the body. Even after the experience of a heart attack it is the mind that can play up making you think of things you never did before. I wish you all the very best for the future.

    • admin
      May 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you for your comment Paul, yes the mind can be more of a problem than the body.

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