THE STORY OF MY DICKY TICKER

 

In September 1990, my marriage broke down.

In February 1991, I was diagnosed as having a heart condition.

The symptom was that after my Sunday lunch, I felt a pressure in the centre of my chest and it became uncomfortable. I called a taxi and went to the A&E department of St. John's Hospital, Livingston, West Lothian. The symptom subsided as I arrived at the hospital but I decided to have a check made on my condition.

I was seen by two doctors and given an ECG and had a blood sample taken. Then I was told that I had had a heart attack and that I had been having attacks for up to ten years. The outcome was that I was admitted and placed under observation. After three days I was discharged and placed on nifedipine 2 X 20mg/day, atenolol 1 X 50mg/day, aspirin 300mg/day and GTN tabs & spray. It was recommended that I attend physiotherapy.

Due to the break up of my marriage and the heart attack, I was very depressed. In attending physiotherapy, I was reluctant to do any exercise. After a few weeks, I stopped going.

The depression lasted for about seven months and then I resumed physiotherapy and finished the course. I felt much better.

When I had an angiogram it was discovered that I had a congenital malformation of the blood vessels to the heart, in that what should have been two large arteries were three narrow ones. One was blocked and one half blocked. The advice was that I should have a double bypass. Angioplasty could not be considered. After a lot of thought, I decided not to have the operation. The prognosis was that within two years I would suffer extreme stress and I was urged to agree. I still declined.

I arranged to have a check up each year and go on the treadmill.

In August 1993 I had a check up and went on the treadmill. Afterwards I overheard the specialist say to his colleague, "With a result like that you would not think of recommending a bypass." I was puzzled. Was I "too far gone"; or in better condition than he had thought that I should be? I now think that I had recovered well. But, at the time my medication was not reviewed.

About August 1994 I did well on the treadmill. I did the full nine minutes finishing on a 12% slope. After, I was not monitored for recovery, but told to lie on the couch until I felt OK, then to go home. I did this, but on the way out, I had some form of reaction. I felt very ill on my way back to the car park. Luckily, the car was parked near my health centre. I sat in the car and used a GTN tablet. I felt worse and staggered into the centre and was seen by my doctor. I was with the doctor for an hour while she tried to stabilise me. My blood pressure went down to 70/40. My doctor then called the cardiac ambulance and I was admitted. Within two hours of my being admitted I was OK. I signed myself out in the evening. Analysing what had happened. I think that I had not rested long enough after the strenuous exercise to recover fully. My blood pressure must have been very low, (below 90 sys.?), and when I took a sub buccal GTN it plummeted. I removed the GTN tablet when I arrived at the hospital.

Over the eight years since the diagnosis of my condition I have been OK. The only bad episode was three years ago when I had a nasty phone call and I had a very bad attack of angina pectoris. It does seem that emotional stress is my enemy rather than physical effort. Though, I have had the odd occasion of slight stress when climbing stairs; but nothing disabling.

I had a similar attack when I received a phone call from the secretary of the Royal British Legion.

I have never had the angina symptom of pains in my left arm.

Each week I go to my club on Saturday. It is a mile away and I walk it in about 20 minutes. I have a drink, and I dance now and then and sometimes feel stressed, but recover quickly. My average alcohol intake is 32 units/week over three evenings.

In my teens and early twenties I had several episodes of fainting during hot weather. My doctor said that I had "thin blood". The males in my family have a history of heart problems.

January 1999 I did a lot of thinking and a bit of reading about my condition. I decided that I would like to try to reduce my medication. The problem was of whether to do the sensible thing and discuss it with my doctor or go it alone. As I thought it was certain that, considering the time I had been on medication, the doctor would insist on me continuing the treatment. Not wishing to place the responsibility upon him, I decided to go it alone.

 

I first reduced the dose of nifedipine by extending the interval between doses. Over six months the interval was extended to one each 24 hours. Then, over ten weeks, I gradually extended the period between atenolol doses to 48 hours. This effectively halved the dosage.

 

To check on my progress I bought a blood pressure gauge. Over a period of four days and 34 readings, I was surprised to see that my average was 110/70, which I thought to be low. Another puzzle to me was that the pressure dropped after exercise and was higher in the morning than in the evening. My pulse does not seem abnormal at an average of 70bpm.

Continuing the reduction I stopped taking all medication, except aspirin, on 13/9/99. Over a seven day monitoring period my average BP was 120/75 with a maximum systolic of 150 & minimum of 100 and maximum diastolic of 90 & minimum of 58. My average pulse was 77.

Over the following five weeks my BP averaged 120/80 with a pulse of 75.

As at Friday, 29 October 1999 I have been off all medication for seven weeks and I feel great.

 

As at Friday 6th January 2000, I still feel great. That's about four months with no medication and I have coped with the cretins at the RBL and married my dear Jackie again.

My BP is averaging 115/75 with a pulse of 70.

It is now Thursday, 20 January 2000 and I am doing fine. My honeymoon was great!!!

Saturday, 11 March 2000 and the marriage has failed. My BP went up a bit, (160/95), for one reading but has returned to normal, (average 130/85). That's a bit higher than before.

Monday, 03 April 2000 I have now decided that my condition has settled and unless something happens this is the end of the heart story. Considering that nine years ago I was not given a great chance of living if I did not have a double bypass, and I was told that I would be on medication for life, AND I have dealt with the RBL, AND I have dealt with the failed marriage yet once again, AND I feel better than I have done for nine years, and I have not had any angina pectoris, That's not a bad way to end the story.

I hope that I am not tempting providence!!

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Friday, 26 October 2001. Have I tempted providence?!

On Wednesday, while working on the computer, the sight in my left eye went for about five minutes. I lost about 90% of the sight in it.
I saw the doctor as an emergency, and he contacted the specialist at Southend Hospital and I had to go in straight away. I got a taxi - 42!! That's my 'lifeboat money' reduced!!
The specialist had a good look in my eyes and checked the circulation in my neck with the stethoscope. His preliminary diagnosis was that I had a very small clot lodge in the blood vessel to the eye.

I went in yesterday to give a blood sample, and I have to go in to have an ultra-sound scan of my neck.

Is it because I stopped taking my medication? Watch this space.

Thursday, 14 February 2002. At the hospital, yesterday, it was all bad news!
My sugar and cholesterol are "highish" and the dopler ultra-sound showed that one of the blood vessels in the neck is blocked and another is 75% blocked.
My GP is to sort out the sugar and cholesterol and I am being referred to a cardio-vascular specialist about the blood vessels. I don't think I'll bother with any intrusive treatment. When I think of the other problems I have, I wonder if it would be worth it. Anyway I won't bother to get my shoes mended!

My problems?

1. Dodgy heart
2. Neck blood vessels blocked
3. Minor hiatus hernia
4. Arthritis - top and bottom of the spine
5. Hydrocele
6. Bursitus
7. Gout?
8. Phimosis
9. Sugar
10. Cholesterol
11.Weeping eye (inherited from my mum! Or, am I weeping for the suffering of the world?)
12. Primary senile dementia!!

You can all refer to your medical dictionary now!

On 15th October 2002 I went into hospital to have my hydrocele sorted. I had two ECGs and both gave me a clean bill of health. Do, I now really have no heart trouble?

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