Category Archives: Heart attack

Learning Classical Greek aged 87. Excerpt from Chapter 28 of ‘Woman in a White Coat’

Our grammar textbook

I had wanted to learn Classical Greek and read the Greek masters in the original for some time and finally enrolled for a beginners’ class at CityLit starting in September 2016.

But it was not to be. On August 9th 2016 Death Came Knocking at My Door and i had  a major heart attack.

When i recovered after having had two coronary stents and an intra-aortic balloon pump inserted and been on a ventilator, there was no way i could attend classes that semester and had to cancel.

I started a week’s intensive course in Classical Greek in the summer of 2017 but the beginners’ class the following September was in the evening – and i hate evening classes.

Finally I started the daytime Classical Greek Level 1 at CityLit this September. Unfortunately I’ve catching up to do – one session missed while we were visiting our daughter Louise in the Basque Country and another with a heavy cold caught out there, but I’ve bought some extra textbooks and hope to make up the missed classes.

Read here about what it’s like to have a life-threatening heart attack from my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Extract from Chapter 28 ‘Death Knocks at My Door’

Death came knocking at my door in August, came right in, cold bony fingers at my throat and foul charnel-breath in my face. I had a major heart attack – blocked my coronary arteries and killed off areas of the left ventricle of my heart, the part that pumps freshly oxygenated blood around the body. Continue reading Learning Classical Greek aged 87. Excerpt from Chapter 28 of ‘Woman in a White Coat’

Czerny Piano Exercises Op 261 Revisited

 

My well-used Czerny exercises
I’ve always found memorizing music scores difficult – even when I was a child and had an almost-photographic memory for anything else. Since my heart attack 14 months ago and time on a ventilator, my memory is definitely worse – though it was even poorer when I first became conscious again.

My present tutor is very keen on me memorizing music so i can watch my hands and improve my technique, instead of looking at the music all the time. I spent several wasted practice hours trying to memorize Mendelssohn’s Venetian Boat Song / Barcarolle Op. 19/6. By the end of 30 minutes i would be able to play the first 17 bars he set me, but the very next time i sat down I’d forget some of it.

As I’ve said before, I like playing Czerny exercises, so my next task is to play a couple of these very simple 8-bar exercises by heart.

it should be good for any incipient dementia too!!

Hoorah!!

WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT ABOUT TO GO ON AMAZON

 

A Great Weekend in Oslo, Norway, and a Visit to The Astrup Fearnley Museum

The Asstrup Fearnley Modern Art Museum

Loved our trip to the Astrup Fearnley  Modern Art Museum on the bay. Couldn’t understand why the collector bothered with so many of Damien Hirst’s half animals in formalin. When there was a scandal about keeping children’s brains I turned out my mounted specimens of cancers but I thought of offering the museum the head of my fractured right femur. I still have it in a jar in my bathroom cabinet – much more interesting and educational that half a cow.

Oslo harbour

Lovely view of the harbour complete with two-masted sailing vessel. Just not enough time to go across to the Viking museum.

Cindy Sherman as demure lady

 

 

I very much liked their collection of Cindy Sherman’s photographs. Amazing what she can turn herself into.

.

 

Untitiled #152

 

 

Hard to realise that this painting Untitled #152 of what apprears to be a bald man is also her.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles 1988

We both liked Jeff Koons’  porcelain Michael Jackson and Bubbles, his chimpanzee,  in white and gold. Seeing Koons’ name reminded me of the hallucinations i had in the High Dependency Unit (HDU; dependant on care not on drugs) following my heart attack last August after I came off the ventilator.

Memoir extract from Chapter 28 of Woman in a White Coat

Continue reading A Great Weekend in Oslo, Norway, and a Visit to The Astrup Fearnley Museum

The Sweet Scent of Jasmine

Just coming into bloom

After my major heart attack last August, I lost most of my sense of smell and taste, so I was delighted to walk past the railings on the approach to Morley College to be greeted by this sweet familiar scent coming from the jasmine bushes planted behind the railings. They were just coming into bloom and I realised that my sense of smell was coming back.

The scent brought back memories of the small house we had from 1993-2003 in Nerja in the South of Spain. We had planted night-scented jasmine on our terrace and the scent would waft across as we sat drinking our after dinner coffee.

Sweet memories indeed!!

Westminster Cardiac Support Group

I never felt after my various other medical catastrophes including breast cancer and a broken hip that I wanted to join a support group. As far as I was concerned, I knew how I needed to come to terms with my extra disability and I just got on with it.

However, St Thomas’s Hospital Critical Care consultants arranged first a follow up clinic for patients who had been in Intensive Care and then scheduled Evening Support (Discussion) groups for survivors and close relations.

I was surprised and delighted with how helpful and reassuring it was to talk to people who had been in a similar situation and with whom I could swap war stories.

I had a particular lurid crop of hallucinations after my heart attack last August – up to 80% of patients in critical care experience some delusions that seem very real to us. Mine will be going into the Final Chapter of my nearly finished memoir.

I loved hearing about those that other patients had. One man was convinced burglars came in the night and stole all the hospital’s bandages. The nurses’ denials didn’t convince him one bit. One of my delusions was that Damien Hurst and Jeff Koons had presented the High Dependence Unit with priceless artefacts. My response was that they made the ward look untidy!!

Pimlico Library on the corner of Lupus Street

The Library Manager of Pimlico Library has kindly offered us a meeting room for our proposed Westminster Cardiac Support Group for one evening a month , There is a pleasant -looking coffee bar upstairs for anyone who comes early and we would provide water and soft drinks during the meeting. It also has a toy library!!

A quiet corner showing the entrance to the meeting room

Buses #C10, 24 and 360 stop outside, for the good walkers both Victoria and Pimlico Undergrounds are in walking distance and there is a lift down to the library level.

It’s a very generous offer and I hope plenty local post-cardiac catastrophe patients and their near-ones will come.

Pimlico Library

This is a large library with a huge range of facilities serving the general public and Pimlico Academy.

Locations and contact details

Opening hours

Day Main library
Monday to Friday 9.30am to 8pm
Saturday 9.30am to 5pm
Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm

Facilities and services

The Gorgeous Smell of Fresh Bread

70% Wholemeal loaf
70% Wholemeal loaf

It’s taken some time since my heart attack at the beginning of August to get back into everything I did before. Obviously, I tire more easily and it’s more difficult to concentrate.

But last week I settled down to refilling the freezer with a variety of home-baked loaves. Of course, it doesn’t taste as good when it’s been frozen but I always have a thin slice of one of the ends while the bread is still fresh and warm.

I still mix the dough in my good old Panasonic SD-ZB2502 bread maker but prove and bake the bread in my fan oven. I don’t like the tall slices you get when you bake bread in the machine and I think it tastes better my way.

The great thing about having lost so much weight, when I was unconscious and fed by a naso-gastric tube, is that I don’t have to watch what I eat as much. I still try to eat healthily, though.

Heart Attacks and Hallucinations

Ventilation panels in ceiling
Ventilation panels in ceiling

My heart wasn’t doing too well after having a heart attack and two stents fitted so the cardiologist fitted an aortic balloon pump which was driven by a separate external pump.

I was doped to the eyeballs and I don’t remember telling Josh that the pump sounded like a washing machine but I was certainly convinced that the circular vent was the porthole of a washing-machine.

That was only one of the many queer delusions I experienced while heavily sedated, being ventilated and fighting for my life.

 

Don’t knock the NHS! Cardiac Rehab Rules OK!!

The Queen Mother Leisure Centre, Victoria
The Queen Mother Sports Centre, Victoria

The NHS doctors not only saved my life when two of my coronary arteries blocked up but when my damaged heart couldn’t cope kept me alive with artificial ventilation and a pump inside my aorta (the main artery supplying blood to the brain and rest of the body.)

Now, out of hospital, I have an excellent Cardiac Rehab team monitoring my progress at my weekly exercise class at the Queen Mother Sports Centre, Victoria.

The team consists of an experienced cardiac nurse(s), a dietician and a physiotherapist/ fitness trainer who carry out an initial assessment and then attend each of the eight cardiac exercise classes patients ae allotted.

Not only are the exercises of value as well as the talk on diet, exercise or mental attitudes that follows, but we have the advantage of meeting other people in the same boat.  It’s good to find that others experience similar problems and it’s developed into an enjoyable social occasion.

Well done Westminster Cardiac Rehab team!!

Sunshine and Showers and a Double Rainbow

Didn't realise thee was a double rainbow until I saw my photo
Didn’t realise thee was a double rainbow until I saw my photo. Just visible in the top right hand corner if you click on the image.

That’s what it’s like after you’ve had a heart attack, had stents inserted in two of your coronary arteries, needed an intra-aortic balloon pump and artificial ventilation – some sunshine, some showers and the occasional double rainbow. Good days and bad days and then the sun comes out and there’s a double rainbow.

Out of hospital a month now and trying hard to get back to a semblance of normality. Had to cancel my classes but still enjoy cooking even if I have to sit down during the preparation. Had a couple of trips to the supermarket with Josh but still get tired easily.