Monday, 25 June 2012

British Heart Foundation - The preamble, Late June 2012

One good thing about having a heart attack is that it gives you a mission.  Firstly, you have to survive it.  Secondly, you need to recover.  Thirdly, you need to change your life to ensure it does not happen again.  Finally, after the first 3 are out of the way, you need to get some payback.

To achieve all the 3 is dull.  I know I've just done it so the payback for my new and "lesser" existence is some charity work (I loved smoking, late nights, doing £60 up the pub on a Friday!!).  How is charity work payback I hear you ask...

Actually there are several reasons.  The Charity itself is a good one.  The British Heart Foundation is a very well run organisation that genuinely does it's best to support the victims of heart disease as well as sponsor research.  I was part of this research during my boring and frustrating stay at the excellent Bristol Heart Institute and it was a release from the drudgery of hospital food/routines.  Another reason is this...I saw some gravely ill people recently.  They will not have the opportunity to help themselves.  It's up to those of us....all of us....to do our bit for those less fortunate than ourselves and I have all the time in the world to do this.  I am very thankful that I can do that.  Also doing charity gigs and events is fun where I get my name in the paper and that's nice.  I like that....it makes my head big.

Fund raising event number 1:  3 Band gig at the Royal Oak public house, 2nd September 2012, late afternoon onwards.  For the raffle I contacted some new friends and tapped up an old one and they all came through.  Sir Ranulph Fiennes (new friend) has donated some prizes for the raffle as has Peter Gabriel (new friend also) former Genesis front man and world renowned solo recording artist and Mr Viv Anderson MBE, the former England, Man Utd, Arsenal, Nott'm Forest (old friend - see Gibraltar posts from last year) footballer has done the same.  Basically, 3 bands with a raffle.  This should be good for £500 or so.

Fund raising event number 2:  I'm going to do the "Camino".  Northern Spain from Leon to Santiago - 400km, on foot.  I want to loose another half stone and drop my cholesterol a point anyway so everyone wins.  This will be a sponsored walk and should be worth another few hundred quid if I'm lucky.  This will take a little organising but I still hope to do it this year - October?  If those things don't kill me, I will live til I'm ninety and have yet more astonishing (for a tosser like myself) memories to dribble to when I'm an incontinent, wheel chair bound heavy rock drummer.

So it is the press tomorrow to get the first articles in the local rags publicising the event.  Having the celebrities on board is a real help.  The truth is they do not do anything really!  They do allow you to use there name however and that catches the eye.  Eye catching gets people to the gig and that is money.  The success of these events is totally about money.  We could all play crap but if I get £500 I will be a very contented man.  If my feet end up covered in blisters and I can walk for the rest of the year but I raise £200 for the walk I will be a very contented man.  In fact just for trying I feel very contented and privileged that I have the opportunity and resources to do these things.  Life is a wonderful thing....  I remember a quote from the Vietnam War (I think) and it goes something like this...

     "for those who have fought for it life has a lustre that others will never know"

The British Heart Foundation trys to help both types of person and you can't do better than that.

So a music choice.  Alone?  So what.  I hope you get the joke.


And another hot as fuck female singer.....


Ok guys....a third


(1980's ladies fashion, yum yum..)

Monday, 18 June 2012

Recovery: Totally had enough of all this bollix!!

The title says it all.  It's my 4th week anniversary of my heart attack and I was blue lighted again into the Royal United Hospital 5 nights ago.  I respect doctors but I also trust my own intelligence and this is where I start to get a little angry....

Some facts before I close my references to all things heart related.  I don't have heart disease.  My heart attack was essentially caused by a birth defect.  I don't have high cholesterol.  My cholesterol is 4.3.  I don't have high blood pressure - in fact it is low naturally.  Given all that why oh why was I given beta blockers, statins, ACE inhibitors etc etc?  Why?  I asked this before I left The Bristol Heart Institute and against my better judgement I went along with the drug regime even after several heated arguments with the good doctors and nurses.  I didn't want to be there so I left early.  They didn't like that either.  In fact I don't think they liked me at all.

Well bugger me.  Guess what?  5 nights ago I had to ring 999 to get my ass to hospital because I became close to loosing conscious after taking my night time pills.  A reaction to the pills that I don't need.  To cut a long story short I am now off all these drugs with the exception of a quarter of an Aspirin tablet and a low dose "super aspirin" that I have agreed to take for life, when available (if i run out away I'm not going to loose sleep over it).

I feel fuckin great!  My heart feels like mine again and I'm sleeping better.  Today, my 4th week anniversary I have just gone for a run after a light shoulder session with the weights.  I feel strong and in control of my life once again.  And I am strong too.  30 press ups were easy and a quarter mile run with a walking segment in the middle has got me a sweat on.  I haven't smoked tobacco for 4 weeks and this has made an incredible difference.  No coughs, no wheezes, well worth it to be honest.  I think about a ciggy every once in a while and in the right circumstances I will probably have one but that wasn't yesterday or the day before.  Nor is it today.  I'm going to treat my smoking that way and it is very easy!  Want to give up smoking?  Have a heart attack!  It becomes a doddle then!

I have had several conversations with friends this week.  Spoke to Ginny for the first time in over a year.  I always miss my opportunities with her.  I always assume these days that nothing will come of it so I don't really try to be nice!  Honesty is often not nice.  Anyway, I'm sure you are doing all sorts of Internet dating and playing with crystals and tarot cards and stuff.  I got the feeling babe from your voice that things arnt quite going to plan though.  I hope I'm wrong.

Popped in to see my old boss Sarah in Melksham Blue Pool and formally resigned from being a pool lifeguard and I think - since I have got off the shit the hospital told me to take - I was a little hasty.  Nevermind, it's done, but I think I will be back.  In our brief chat she asked me, almost like she was talking to a naughty boy (she is a whipper snapper at 40), are you going to slow down and I said yes.  That was me on the drugs.  Sorry Sarah I'm even better than I thought so strike that conversation.

My diet was excellent before but I want to drop my cholesterol into the 3somethings.  That is what a statin can do - at least a point drop.  I think I can do better through minor changes to my diet.  I don't believe in taking drugs when there is a natural solution.  I think I should qualify the use of the word natural.  I don't mean HOMOEOPATHIC by using the word "natural". If you are really ill you trust these remedies at your peril!  I've tried them, and rekki and reflexology etc etc and these "treatments" simply don't work for me.  There always has been a more effective option available.

With all this going on I managed to get a weekend in at the Sundowners Motorcycle Club rally.  Charmaigne made the suggestion and with Buzz her close mate we got totally shitfaced last Saturday night.  Char dances and I duly gave my best headbanging and air guitaring to the live bands and heavy rock disco.  There were also pole dancers.  I like pole dancers and they seemed to like me!  God, I need to get laid....

4 weeks on. Off the heart drugs. Off tobacco. Back to exercise.  My temperamental back is feeling good and quite strong.  Where was I in my life prior to my heart attack?  Ah yes, walking across northern Spain; The Camino.  Is it possible this year?  It has got to be worth a go.  What else have I got to do?  Never give in.  Always push.  One day we will all be old and incapable of doing everything we want to do.  For me that day is not today or tomorrow....it's a long way off.  When it comes however I will enjoy it because I know I tried to do things right and worthwhile.  What about you?

Friday, 8 June 2012

You Can't Make it Up!! - Heart Attack - 10pm, 21st May 2012

I was sitting there, in front of laptop in my office, beating the Russians all ends up at the Battle of Kursk and my life changed - again.  Before I was immortal, now I'm not.....but not for long I'm sure.

It started suddenly.  My chest felt as though I had smoked 200 cigars.  I felt sick.  I was sweating and clammy.  My pulse was erratic.  After 15 minutes or so I rang 999.  It was clear I was having a heart attack. 

The ambulance arrived minutes after the 999 call and the 2 paramedics were very slick, knowledgeable and well equipped.  They hooked me up to a mobile ECG plotter, gave me an Aspirin and a spray of GTN under my tongue but I was still very ill.  I was "blue lighted" to the Bristol Heart Institute where I had a stainless steel stent fitted in 1 coronary artery within 15 minutes of my arrival - then I felt amazingly good!  Better than before my heart attack in fact!

I had 4 heart attacks before I reached the hospital.  After the forth, which occurred in the ambulance, I remember looking up at the "Mind Your Head" warning on the ambulances back door and thinking "this is probably it Stevie boy!".  The paramedic in the back very quietly told the driver "let's go!".  I decided to take stock.  I was very calm and, even though I was feeling very sick, I started to smile.  I was relaxed - probably due to the diamorphine (smack! yum!) they had given me - and got myself ready for the big one that would end my life.  I wanted to make my last thoughts notable and worthy.  I thought of my daughter.  I recalled moments during her childhood.  I felt very proud of her and I felt proud of myself for never running out of patience with her and always supporting her in everything that she attempts.  I also thought of my biggest disappointment with regret.

I survived - again.

I was taken to the Coronary Care Unit for the night to recover and this was not pleasant.  Not only could I not sleep - I kept setting off the alarms with my naturally low pulse and blood pressure on top of the "calming" drugs that I had been given to subdue my heart's natural function.  35 BPM is quite natural for me at rest.  I am a freak - check your own pulse!  The real horrid thing about being in such an environment is that most there (all except me it seems) are gravely ill.  Sure enough, about 3am, I heard the most dreadful noises coming from the next cubical but one.  This was a 56 year old lady's death rattle and I am not going to describe them to you.  The fast footsteps and the 1-2-3-4-5 etc being shouted out loud by the resus team went on for some time then all went quiet.  If anyone is out there and thinks a massive heart attack is a "nice way to go" think again and give up smoking.  This woman died in agony.  About an hour later I heard a shriek from a room just outside the ward and then heard one of the duty nurses say that was the daughter being told.  This is all very, very sad and not good for morale.  I never saw her alive. Just a fleeting glimpse as she was taken off the ward some hours later once the dreadfully upset family had viewed this poor lady.  I was simply an anonymous bystander in her death.

Ok, next morning once I got my sensors sorted out I went for a walk.  Within 12 hrs of my heart attack I walked down 5 flights of stairs, had a walk for 45 minutes and walked back up.  The ward are stunned and (very angry with me!) I was approached to spend 2 hrs in CT scanner for research purposes.  They get data I get a very, very deep inspection of my heart and it was encouraging.  My heart attack was minor - very minor.  Barely visible damage and great movement confirmed that I was genuinely feeling terrific!

I left hospital early with more drugs than I could carry and finally got home where I sat down, realised what had happened, and cried my eyes out.  My life has changed forever and I know it.  It's not just the no fags but this could happen again to me.  I eat a terrific diet, exercise, have low cholesterol, low pulse rate and low blood pressure.  No sign of any other fatty deposits anywhere in my body!  As 46 year olds go, I'm in very good order (except a broken back and 5 fucked discs of course).  Ok I smoked, but I thought I had the whole heart attack thing covered.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The drugs they give you are terrible.  I felt great until they came into effect.  For the first few days you think you are going to have another heart attack I sware!  Little chest pains, fluctuating pulse rate and hot flushes make you wonder whether you are going to have another.  Not good but it appears I will not be on the nastier tablets for long - 6 months tops.

Anyway.....I have a love interest in my life.  This has started since my heart attack and is lovely if I'm honest.  The lady concerned is younger than myself (er...a lot younger in fact) but she is bright, affectionate and impressive if I'm honest.  We both know that nothing will come of it in the long run which is sad but we are giving each other really nice times and I'm glad that I took the chance even though it is against my better judgement.  She is very good company and very honest and I like that.  As regular readers will know I have had some right nutters in recent years and whilst this young lady has to be a little touched to be hanging around with an old fart like me at least she has her feet on the ground and working to a plan to better her life and sticking to it.  I really respect that.  It reminds me of me.

So...what a post!  Bet you didn't expect to read this shit when you poured milk over your rice crispies this morning!  I never expected to write it either but there we go.  My ethos on life is that if you experience a negative experience you should "right the wrong" and create a positive.  So I have approached 2 other bands that I know well and we are going to do a one day festival in aid of the British Heart Foundation.  I will keep you informed.  Best payback I can think of.  Thanks to Phill Kamm of A Stone Deaf and Jim from my old band Fat Freddy's Cat for assisting here.  It will be good with some surprises and it will be in the autumn.  I've even got the Wiltshire Times onboard - cheers Chris!

To music!!!!!!  I've posted this before but it fits so well.  My long suffering and exasperated GP thought I only had 2 or 3 lives left and maybe it is time to stop pushing.  I will try but no promises.  After all it is better to burn out than fade away.  What a guitar solo.