Someone said writing down your feelings and thoughts can help – so here we are – one month on.
I never thought that a month ago today, my life would change in the way it did. It was completely out of the blue and unexpected. From a moment of celebration came a wake-up call that will live with me forever.
One of my closest friend’s hen party took place on Saturday 21st April. The warm spring weather was the perfect day for the celebrations, although maybe not to be in a kitchen in a cookery class baking gingerbread and icing a cake for the groom. This was followed by a lovely meal and a couple of cocktails in the evening sunshine. It was perfect way to enjoy the upcoming nuptials.
However, the next day was not so rosy. I felt achy and very tired. All my joints were sore, and I had back pain and a slight ache in my chest. I thought that because I had not had a drink at all since the New Year, I was feeling the affects of the cocktails more than normal. So, I proceeded to flush out the alcohol with as much water as possible. I also noticed that I had been bit by a couple of insects that night, and thought that they were reacting to the alcohol, so continued to flush out my system with water.
By the early hours of Monday, I was still feeling unwell and decided to phone 111 to ask some advice. They said I should go to A&E, so with dawn only just breaking, I was on my way to Lincoln County A&E in a taxi.
After some tests, I was just waiting for the results of an x-ray, but they were confident that I could go once they had seen the x-ray. However, things on the x-ray were not as they should be, and the consultant said they wanted to do a CT scan of my heart as they thought it was enlarged.
Mild panic set in for me. The CT was completed, and I awaited the results. The consultant called me back through, this time not to the room as before, but to the area where the cubicles were, past those and into Resus – more panic was setting in. I was told by the consultant that the was an issue with my heart and they had spoken to the specialist centre at Nottingham City Hospital, and that I was to be transferred there immediately and have an operation.
At this point, my brain kind of shut down at taking anymore information in. From feeling fine a couple of days before to a small amount of discomfort, I was now looking at surgery.
The ambulance arrived, and after a very uncomfortable journey on the stretcher travelling between the hospitals, I was greeted by a full team at Nottingham City Hospital, who were in a sense ready to take me straight down to surgery if needed.
Luckily, my condition was very stable, so the consultant, Mr Ian Mitchell, was able to explain the situation to me. My aorta was enlarged and, in essence, was a balloon ready to burst. That could happen at any point, in 5 minutes or 5 years. Not having the surgery was not an option – but what type of replacement aortic valve they used was up for discussion. The pig valve meant I could live a normal life but have it replaced again in 8-12 years (and then again in another 8-12 years after that and so on) or go on blood thinning medication for my lifetime and take a mechanical valve.
I didn’t really fancy having to face another operation in another decade, so the mechanical valve sounded the best fit at my age. The downside apart from the medication was the mechanical valve ticks – so I am like the human version of the crocodile in Peter Pan!
The day of the operation came around – less than two days after I was admitted. After 6.5 hours in theatre, I was back in ICU and ready for recovery (or at least that what I have been told!).
Since that Wednesday back in April, I have been recovering from the operation that not only saved my life, but gave me a future too. There is a long road to recovery from the surgery that I had. It is not easy when the surgeon breaks your breastbone to open your chest – there is a lot of repairing to be done.
I know that I was absent from the local election count because of this, and that I am taking time off from my Lib Dem and my Parish Councillor commitments for a time until I am strong enough to return – but I will never stop being there when people need me. If I can help, I will do. If I cannot, I will find a colleague who can.
Thank you to my fantastic boss and colleagues for their support and also to all my family and friends, thank you for your amazing support too!
Without having the heart condition spotted at Lincoln, I do not know how long I would have been around. Sometimes the strangest things happen, this time for me it was love – the love that unites two people in wedlock. A hen-do might have just saved my life.