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!!
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!!
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.
This is a large library with a huge range of facilities serving the general public and Pimlico Academy.
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.
I’ve always made lists – topics to discuss lists, lecture lists, shopping lists, to-do lists, what to take on holiday lists, ingredients for a cake lists, every type of list you can imagine.
Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto charts the course of an attempt to introduce an Aviation Pilot-type checklist into major surgery. The results show that in hospitals from the richest, best equipped in the USA to the poorest in Africa and India, the use of a checklist before commencing major surgery saves lives and reduces complications. But there was resistance to their introduction, as there is resistance to the use of checklists in other fields.
For me, one of the most interesting aspects was the requirement to get all those involved to feel themselves a team, with input from the lowliest member. I suspect that most of us introduce checklists top down. With more import from the most junior member of the team maybe we could have done much better – at home, in our John Dobbie toyshops, in our dental practice and in the pathology departments where I worked.