One blog post in over 4 months is a pretty poor effort on my behalf but I think it's fair to say that the blogging muse, like sunshine and warm weather, abandoned me over the summer.
I thought today would be a good time to start again and this is partly because it's Thanksgiving Day in the US of A. Wow, just back and I'm into poetry already !
Of course we here in the Mother Country don't have a similar day as basically we're thankful that we're British ALL the time and spend our lives being happy and constantly smiling through our misshapen teeth.
But I think that for once (!!) we should take the lead from our colonial friends and set aside one special day in the year for being.....well, just thankful. I'm sure many people feel that these days, they have little to be thankful about what with money worries, health worries, relationship worries, work worries, Euro worries, worry worries (from people who worry that they don't have anything to worry about) and so on.
But even in the depths of all these worries, most of us should be able to find something to be thankful for, even if it's only that we don't have to watch Nadine Dorries in "I'm A Celebrity" anymore !
For the last 20 years, I've been thankful that I wake up every morning. Yes I know that should be every morning for the last 60 years but there is a reason for saying the last 20.
On November 22nd 1992, I returned home from another exhausting game of badminton. If you've never played badminton and think it's a slow old game as the shuttlecock is light as a feather and "floats" across the net, then think on. It's the world's fastest racket sport and the shuttle reaches speeds around 200mph putting it way faster than a squash or tennis ball. Not that our cocks (stop it now) were capable of achieving such speeds but we were decent players and I usually came off court red faced and sweating like a Walmart shopper when no scooters are available.
Right away I didn't feel too good and decided to have a relaxing bath, something I seldom did as I'm a shower person. I probably had the water too hot as when I got out again, it wasn't only my face that was red. I was Lobster Man. And I felt even worse.
I had aches between my shoulder blades and up my neck on the left side. I felt weak and light headed and couldn't concentrate on anything and after a couple of hours I just went to bed.
Next morning I still had the ache in my neck but nothing else so I went to work. Nothing much changed over the next few days but when the neck ache wasn't any better, I went to see the doctor. Being one for self diagnosis, I told him about the badminton and that I thought I might have pulled a muscle in my neck and in the absence of much else to go on, he went along with that and said give it time.
November rolled into December and I was still getting neck aches and still not feeling 100%. I returned to the doctor and he decided, after no examination or tests at all, that it was most likely a torn muscle and would take a while to heal. December rolled on into January and by February I'd had enough. I went to the doctor again and reminded him I was in BUPA (a private medical scheme) and asked to be referred to a private specialist.
Now at this point I'm not sure about some details as my memory has never been very good and also it turned out to be a very traumatic time. It took a week or so to get the BUPA appointment set up and I can't even remember why I was given a stress test when I got there......but I was. Maybe I had some tests before that or even a visit before it but I can't remember. It does seem a strange development if I just went in with an ache in my neck but maybe I mentioned the other symptoms from back on November 22nd.
In any case, I do clearly remember the stress test as I was wired up like an astronaut before blast off and surrounded by lots of impressive equipment including a crash cart ! The room seemed to be full of busy people fussing around me but my attention was taken by the man standing near me with the twin paddles ! I was instructed to get onto a treadmill and as time went on, the incline was raised until I was huffing and puffing like an asthmatic 60 a day man.
After this I was taken to a recovery bed for a lie down and some time later, a white coated geezer came along and confirmed I'd had a heart attack back in November and I needed an angiogram to see how bad my plumbing was.
Whoa.....back that up a bit, mister. Break it to me gently will you !!! Holy crap I almost had another attack hearing that. I didn't take much in after the announcement as having a heart attack at 40 was definitely not on my bucket list. A few days later I had the angiogram and was told I had multiple blockages and would need bypass surgery asap. This was set up for 10 days time. It would've been 6 months with the NHS.
I remember going to work after the angiogram and telling this to everyone and getting the universal opinion "are you mad coming back to work ?" Oddly enough that's when it really hit me. I'd spent 3 months totally unaware I'd had a heart attack and, given that all my arteries had major blockages, could've dropped dead at any moment. Now that I knew, I spent the next 10 days like I had a dozen ostrich eggs in my pockets. I went up stairs like I was 90 and not 40. I sat a lot (yes not much change there) and I stopped going to work; in fact with the surgery and recovery time, I didn't return to work for 4 months.
As an aside, during these 4 months, I spent 6 weeks in America which included touring San Francisco, the city known for its steep streets ! And I went with no medical insurance whatsoever. I think you could say the drugs I was on affected my decision making !!!
Anyway during the quintuple bypass on March 4th 1993, my heart was stopped and the blocked parts of my plumbing were cut out and replaced by good bits from my left leg and I've been thankful ever since. So November 22nd is an important anniversary for me as well as The Kennedys. I survived a heart attack (and 13 years later survived another one) and have been forever thankful that I had private medical insurance at the time as I'd not be alive now if I'd had to go on an NHS waiting list for my surgery.
You never know when your time is up and 20 years ago today, it wasn't my time.
So a happy Thanksgiving Day to all my US friends. I'm sure enjoying another of mine.