18th April 2011 – A day etched forever in my memory.
I was 38 years old, eighteen and half stone (260 pounds) in weight, living a sedentary lifestyle, eating far too much, smoking too much, not doing any exercise, sitting behind a desk and computer screen working often late into the night. All of this and not thinking anything of it.
On this particular Monday morning I was working from home, instead of the office in London, as I was due in Scotland the following day. The plan was to work from home in the morning, fly to Edinburgh in the afternoon, hire a car, stay in a hotel overnight, work Tuesday and then fly back that evening.
I got as far as the hotel…
I’m a keen photographer and that weekend I had bought myself a Panasonic Lumix GF1 Micro Four Thirds camera. My flight arrived in Edinburgh late in the afternoon, leaving me with an ideal opportunity to grab the new camera and take some photos. I hired the car and drove off in search of something to snap, it wasn’t long until I saw a signpost to the Pentland Hills Country Park – sounds good I thought.
Having parked the car, I took out my cigars and lit one up. Whilst it’s only a short flight to Edinburgh, it had been at least four hours since my last smoke and I was craving my nicotine fix. I set off camera in hand, puffing plumes of smoke into the atmosphere.
The view from the country park towards Edinburgh and the large rock formation known as Arthur’s Seat was looking great and I set about taking photos.
It wasn’t long after this that I started to feel some pains in my chest, thinking it was indigestion I continued onwards towards a reservoir in the distance. As I got closer the pain was increasing, damn indigestion, I shouldn’t have had that all-day breakfast panini and large latte at the airport… I was now starting to sweat.
Reaching the reservoir the sweat was pouring out of me, whilst I am normally a heavy sweater I didn’t think it had been that much of a strenuous walk up to the reservoir. With the indigestion getting worse I started taking photos of Torduff Reservoir
The chest pains were increasing in intensity and the sweat was pouring off my head whilst I took the photo above. Now starting to think this is something more than ingestion – “and why am I so hot” – I decide to head back to the car, with thoughts of getting to the hotel as quickly as I can.
As I walk back to the car, I start to think that I might be having a heart attack – now at this point I should have phoned 999 and got to hospital there and then – no not me! Still in denial, I go back to the car and drive myself to the hotel, check in, drop my bags off and lie on the bed fully clothed – I’m still sweating, even after having the air-con full in the car? It’s only now that I admit to myself that something is seriously wrong and I ask the hotel receptionist to call an ambulance for me. The chest pain now feels as if an elephant is sitting on my chest and I look like someone has poured a bucket of water over my head.
I spent three nights in hospital (at the other end of the country from home!) and a further eight weeks at home recovering.
I had a suffered a Myocardial Infarction (MI) at the age of 38. An MI is generally referred to as a heart attack and occurred when the blood flow to part of my heart was blocked for long enough, that part of my heart muscle was damaged and died (the human heart is incapable of repairing itself).
That was four and half years ago and there have been some major changes to my lifestyle – I haven’t smoked since that day and I lost nearly 55 pounds weight mainly through dieting and cycling over 7000 miles.
Even though that day is etched into memory, I’m starting this blog as reminder to myself of why I cycle and the need to eat healthily. It also serves to document my experiences, cycle rides and show everyone there is a future after a heart attack.
Coeur Cycliste is French for Heart Cyclist – I’m cycling to improve my overall wellbeing and keep my heart as healthy as possible.
Hopefully this is the first of many posts on my new blog …