Anxiety, fear, embarrassment and trepidation were just some of the emotions I experienced in January 2021 after having a heart attack at just 43 years of age.
I was in complete denial. Despite having an angioplasty to introduce 4 stents into my heart, I kept asking “How could this happen to me?”
At the time of my heart attack I was in the best physical shape of my life having overhauled my diet and exercise regime since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Living in fear
Having observed the devastating impact my heart attack had on my wife and children, as well as other family and friends, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in my life, I felt I could not be open and transparent with my nearest and dearest for fear of causing them more anxiety and pain.
Every unexpected chest pain now had me questioning whether my time was near. Would I wake up in the morning? Would I get to see my children grow up? This fear served to immobilise me completely in a physical and mental sense. For somebody who prided himself on being very sociable, I was now a borderline recluse.
I spent the first 6 months making excuses to avoid all contact with the outside world. I didn’t want to hear anybody else tell me what I should be doing to take care of myself and that I was too young to have a heart attack.
My weight dropped drastically. Trying to find a suitable diet left me looking gaunt, which was a cause for concern for the people around me.
The road to recovery
When I finally had the courage to interact with society again, it became patently clear to me that I was extremely fortunate. There were so many individuals who cared for me deeply, yet I was suffering as I couldn’t express my deepest fears and thoughts to anybody.
It took my 8-year-old son to spell out the reality to me. “Dad, I know you had a heart attack, but please can you be like you were before? We don’t talk anymore, you don’t laugh and joke with us, what is wrong with you? Why are you treating us this way? We didn’t ask you to smoke, and we didn’t give you the heart attack.”
I can’t begin to tell you how emphatically his words resonated with me. I reflected on my situation and decided that I would seek outside intervention.
Having assessed all my options, I decided to attend a clinic with a cardiac nurse. I had an hour with the nurse and spoke openly, relaying everything that was causing me to spiral.
My interactions with the cardiac nurse were revolutionary. I found myself able to express and articulate my fears, only to be told that they were a normal by-product of my health issues.
It became clear to me that just having somebody to lean on who didn’t have a vested interest in my personal life other than my general wellbeing allowed me to open up.
I recall wondering why a similar service was not made available to me immediately after I had my heart attack. I discussed this with a colleague, and he posed this question to me: “If you believe there is a gap in the market that you can plug more effectively and efficiently, what can you do about it?
And that was the start of the journey that led to the creation of The Care Advantage. I’m proud to be able to provide people like me, and people living with complex conditions, the personalised and practical support they deserve. Our specially trained team is equipped to help you manage the physical and emotional impacts of your condition. With our support, you can continue enjoying a full, active, and happy life – all from the comfort of home.
Get in touch if you’d like to know more about our home care across Suffolk, Essex and Greater London services.