Reminds me of an old political slogan…….

As I mark the 1 year anniversary of my Heart Surgery it’s probably time to take stock again. Well yes it’s been one of the strangest and most difficult years we all could have had, but to try and recuperate for the majority of the year was a double edged sword. On the one hand with everyone working from home it was somewhat easier to adjust to, after all I’d already been home for a couple of months, but then again knowing that you are now imunocompromised in the whirlwind of a Global Pandemic is definitely a stress marker.

Moon – Nov 2020

Adding to that of course my release of Gigs and Music Photography simply wasn’t available, in the first couple of months before lockdowns began, I just wasn’t either physically able or recovered enough to even think about it, doubt I’d have lasted standing for as long as a support set even. Wasn’t supposed to be doing any exercise for a couple of weeks after I got home, and I know from my own stupidity I should have been heading that advice. Of course there haven’t been any gigs here since, and I’ve gotten the camera out a bit, shooting the moon, garden birds and a trip to the Zoo, some pics littered around this post, but it’s very little for 12 months of time at my age, feels like a lot of wasted time.

So what would I say after 12 months – A Lot Done, More To Do….. once used by Bertie Ahern as a campaign slogan, but sums things up pretty well as to where I stand a year on. I have worked hard for a number of months during that time, losing weight, becoming more physically fit and altering my diet. But that is I guess only part of the story, along with the good feelings from achieving minor goals and targets, the darkness can still seep in, I would be surprised if any of us have been able to completely avoid the shadow of Depression in one for or another over the last year. For me the ups and downs have maybe been less frequent than in a normal year, but also perhaps more severe.

While initially in the first recovery stage things started to close down, so my physical Cardio Rehab was delayed for a couple of months, me rather stupidly starting exercising sooner than I should and pushing too hard too quickly., and dealing with trying to organise care for a relative things got on top of me pretty early into last year, and it’s happened a few times since, doesn’t coordinate directly with lockdowns, that’s for sure, but times of stress, going through a near death of a family member from Covid and all that entailed it makes me ponder the future alongside the present. Whether working in the position I do, or the type of work will be possible long term, I remember talking in the hospital to a couple of more experienced men on the very subject, once was back in suffering from angina (but who had been in and out of the hospital so much in the last 20 years that all the staff in a busy hospital knew him and came up to visit) and the other to have something replaced in a complex operation as overtime things had changed and both had to take early retirement and also scale back the amount/type of work they did. It’s a difficult one to think about, there’s obviously monetary issues involved, that goes without saying, but long term the viability of pushing a body that’s not as strong as it once was may mean that I need to make a decision before it makes the decision for me. Another attack could take any voluntary thoughts on it null and void.

Starling with a nut in the back Garden Dec 2020

But hey, like I say ups and downs and achieving goals has been a big lift. That family member somehow coming through the Covid virus, along with another elderly relative and a couple of friends that were seriously ill, and in reality 8 months on are still recovering. Watching my little boy, who is growing and developing all the time, but still has to work hard and we still have a long way to go, can be frustrating and very noisy, but we will all get there. If the vaccine does get out there quickly enough and spread out there widely enough maybe the 2nd half of 2021 will see some Gigs return to the calendar, when they do restart get out there and get to see your favourite bands, the shows will be amazing with the pent up energy from bands and patrons alike even if there are restrictions involved the atmosphere should be off the charts. There’s of course the slimmer possibility that we get Festivals back of travel for Gigs, at this stage I’d settle for some local stuff to get started.

For now 2021 is still 2020, the problems remain, the virus continues to cause pain and suffering, the hospitals are at full capacity, but we will see how the vaccine’s change things, if indeed they can. For me each week this month I cut out something else that brings me closer to what I should be eating again…..almost back there now, and back to getting proper exercise (do believe the hype, a good walk in fresh air – even if it’s cold is brilliant for your Mental Health), just gotta make sure the blips don’t last longer than a day and become less and less frequent. No hospital appointments until October 2021 and hopefully will be reducing the medications by 1 or two in the coming weeks…….. have managed to avoid Covid up until now, so touch wood can continue to do so until I can get vaccinated, how long that protection lasts time will tell, but one thing is for sure this Virus will be with us just like Flu or the common cold, with much more serious side affects, so people, don’t just decide everything is fixed, be diligent and stay home if you are asked to, stay safe.

Me out Walking, great exercise – Nov 2020

The next step on the road to recovery……..

Well it’s been just over 3 weeks since my Heart Attack, and I guess my impatience is starting to grow, as I mentioned last time I would not be the best patient in the world.  There are no hard and fast methods or details on how far you should push yourself during recovery. With regards to exercise I did manage to find an example table of distances to walk within time periods from week 1 to 6 following the attack/operation, on the Scottish Heart Foundations website. What I had initially forgotten about/ignored was that Week 1 does not start until 10 days after the Attack itself, meaning I’d started longer distances way too early, of course everyone is different, but I walking too fast too quickly. Very hard to balance a walking pace when you are naturally a fast walker, but will continue to try.

 

Food wise, well I’m not saying I wouldn’t destroy a large bar of chocolate right now, but the dietary changes have not been as difficult as first expected, being someone that eats a lot of potato and used to eat a lot of fruit and veg it’s just simply been a case of swapping fruit in as snacks and adjusting meals to be a lot more veg based, not a massive problem, eating breakfast every morning and working on 3 square meals a day hasn’t been too difficult at home, but when I go back to work it will all become a little more difficult….. massive reduction in my salt intake alongside sugars, no sweets or fizzy drinks since it happened, The odd treat will happen every now and then, but if I can stick to what I am doing and maybe add in some foods that I don’t normally eat then the variation will help the situation as well, it would be nice if there was a safer alternative to salt as a flavouring agent .Plenty of stuff to learn with regards to meals, nutrients etc, working hard on what is probably the most important part of the process and that’s getting correct portion size, which is certainly one thing that was out of control.

 

It is quite difficult to figure out what to do in the period between being discharged from the Hospital after the operation and the time Cardio Rehab begins, obviously we are all different and levels of exercise alongside the rate we can increase workouts. Having found to my detriment the danger of pushing too far too soon, it’s careful one step at a time stuff now. and try and rest up as much as possible. At this point I still have to figure out how the transition back to work will happen, but will discuss that with my own Doctor, the relevant parties and something will be worked out, the benefit of having a very understanding employer can not be overstated, they have been excellent. Taking the extra time required to be ready to return to that environment will hopefully make all the difference, Still hoping that I’ll be able to make the HRH AOR Festival in 5 weeks, it’s a goal I’ve set myself, but if it’s not possible the decision to be made will be to for health reasons and not just feelings.

 

The lineup of gigs and Festivals for the year will no doubt have to be amended, don’t think there’s any chance I’ll be able to do so many back to back events, but will see what can be managed sensibly, and also if we can get photography back on track. Haven’t picked up a camera since before Christmas, so perhaps that’s the next step in my recovery, next week is the aim just taking some photos of the birds in the back garden, and besides there is a new lens to try out.

 

We are all smothered with a heavy cold now, so that’s certainly not helping this morning, but hopefully that will pass over the weekend and I need to get to the Doctors on Monday morning to sort a few things out, there is always something else to do.

Stay safe and look after yourselves……picked up a little capsule last week that holds a couple of asprins in case of emergency and attaches to your keyring so alongside my spray I think that will be coming out with me everywhere from now on.

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A little update on the health situation…….

Well it’s been two weeks since my Heart Attack and almost 2 weeks since the Operation where they implanted 2 Stents into the arteries around my heart. I certainly hasn’t been an easy couple of weeks, but at the same time I’m immensely happy to still be able to hug my family, and just be above ground.

 

There have been moments of discomfort, most especially in week one pose op, but they are less frequent as time has gone on, takes time for everything to settle down with your body, and the Stents to settle in. But physically all that is left visibly are a couple of marks and this one below, where they made the entry to the artery to perform the OP.

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My Diet has changed dramatically, lots of fruit and veg, as little salt as possible, big cut down on sugar, no sweets or cakes, fish and chicken, and drinking water all day rather than minerals/soda. Also eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, so eating a lot more regularly, but a bit worried about being able to just keep things like this when I eventually get back to work. Hopefully won’t be too much of a pain, can just bring my food with me and do some trial and error. Not the easiest or most fun thing to do, but certainly necessary, really thought that the drop in sugary foods would bring on a bit of depression, but thankfully nothing.

 

Exercise has begun and it’s been great to be able to get out in the fresh air and start walking, may have pushed it a little bit to hard first time out, but will just try to build and hold my pace better, honestly I find it very difficult to walk slowly, but it’s a nice loop around my estate from just outside the door, which can also be built upon in either direction to extend the distance and time spent exercising. To date I’ve lost a few kg’s as well, which is no bad thing. Will be slim and trim in no time  😉

Next up a trip to the GP on Monday and see where we go from there. Still pretty tired and if I have a nap in the day it’s much harder to sleep at night………hey ho, always something isn’t there. But for now trying hard not to let the other stresses get to me, I already got wiped out after having to make some difficult decisions regarding my sick relative, that and the discussions about them . just cleared out all the energy earlier in the week. With any luck a lot of the work on that is now in progress, can’t do any running around, so hopefully one or two trips and we will get there.

 

In 7 months I turn 50 – will be an interesting time between now and then, should be a healthier person by then. Currently all gig and photography action are cancelled. missing the gigs I am missing is difficult, but there isn’t another option, so a necessary evil and not sure I could stand for a whole night year anyway, for now the first few Festivals are out, but will see how the recovery progresses…………………………as with most things in life, hard work and following orders …..

Never take your Health for granted……..

Well it’s been a somewhat interesting week to say the least. Have spoken before about looking after an elderly relative and the stress and pressure that comes along side that, and how over time it just continues to build, and don’t get me wrong it is very important to keep elderly people living at home for as long as possible, but at times you take on too much, or you just can’t provide the care and attention they need.  So last Wednesday ended up in the hospital, which was crazily overcrowded, and then looking after them at home through the rest of the week.

 

Arriving home from my bit of care work on Friday evening, Id had a bit of discomfort in my chest all day, but put it down to indigestion, typical man, just ignore it and it will go away, but then a sharp pain in my chest for around 60 seconds and I did the sensible thing, called an ambulance and after being checked out went to Hospital to get Blood Tests and a Doctor once over. After 10 hours of waiting in A&E finally got in to see someone and within about 15 minutes I was being checked in, probable Heart Attack and the fun began.

 

As always the care in the Hospital was second to none, how they manage to do so in those conditions is beyond me, the hours are too long, the facilities inadequate for the number of patients, and they all deserve a bloody medal, the Govt in Ireland really should be ashamed of themselves continuing for so many years not addressing problems every man on the street can see are obvious. Anyway, a weekend of tests and then Monday a nearly 3hr operation to install some Stents into my heart and get things working better again. How quickly things can change. The blockages/narrowing were in an awkward place which definitely didn’t help, and how weird it is to be awake while it’s all heppening. We all take so much for granted, and it literally takes 1 minute for everything to change. Home now and resting, but so many changes have to be made, and right now the future is still very uncertain. Changes of Diet and Exercise are a given, but there’s so much else on top of it, capacity to help care for someone else, work and just how much of what I do now can I continue to do, then there is my beloved music, don’t know if I can get back to Photography or if it will have to be something I give up, But most importantly will be staying around for my family, my little guy will need me around for a long time yet, even if I can’t lift him up at the moment, which is really hurting me.

 

So some advice, take care of yoursef before it is forced upon you, we only get one shot at this thing so don’t play around with it. Never ignore the warning signs and if you don’t feel right and have a pain/discomfort you’ve never experienced before in your chest – go get it checked out before something happens. And try to always have 300mg of Asprin around handy in your home or on you for chewing if something happens, if could just be the difference. For me I’m going from one tablet for my Epilepsy to 6 tablets a day, big change and always a worry some medication won’t play well with others.

 

For now, rest and recouperation, cancelled gigs for the next while and no overextending. We can all do this, but will take more discipline in future and perhaps not trying to be everything to everyone. Take care of yourselves……………..