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.
It is open now to UK residents over 18, and you can submit as many pieces of not more than 5000 words. The closing date is February 5th 2017.
The judges are Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead, Publishing Director of Atlantic Books. The first prize is generous – £1,500, an Arvon course, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and a meeting with an agent or editor. Two highly commended writers will receive £500 each and a meeting with an agent or editor.
For me, it’s a great incentive to finish editing my memoir Woman in a White Coat. I think that several of the episodes are worth working up as stand-alone pieces. This is just what I need to get me going – doesn’t matter if I don’t get long- or short-listed though having my memoir short-listed for the Tony Lothian and Wasafiri prizes was a great boost to my moral. Having a heart attack set me back and played havoc with my ability to motivate myself. Something like this certainly helps.
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.
The pleasure was in huge rooms full of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), most of which I hadn’t seen before and Rothko, (1903-1970) panels in lovely bright colours – one from 1949 subtitled Violet, black, orange, yellow on White and Red – and much more.
I was not surprised to find that two of the paintings by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) were so like de Kooning’s (1904-1997) when I read that he was Kooning’s mentor.
Though I quite liked the large abstract sculptures in the courtyard outside, only one of the sculptures within the exhibition really excited me – Sky Cathedral – Moon Garden + One by Louise Nevelson 1957-60. A large sculpture composed of turned and shaped wood, I found it mystical and entralling.
The pain was yet again tiny print on the labels so that to read them I had to walk up close to the wall. Since following my heart attack my exercise tolerance is limited, it was literally a pain having to walk nearly twice the distance to read them all. In my view, if an artist gives their work a title, even if Untitled, it is relevant and should be easy to find. bad mark, curator.
I always promise myself that I’m not going to buy one more art book. We have too many on our coffee table already.
But this one was irresistible. Not only is the colour reproduction excellent but the text is interesting and readable.
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!!
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Blog by Dr Abby J Waterman and her new book, Woman in a White Coat