Shape Of My Heart

As I write I’m sitting in the entrance waiting room of Leeds General Infirmary’s (LGI) Jubilee Wing.

Accompanied by my wife Karen, yours truly indulges in the addictive pastime of people watching. The ‘entertainment’ provided by scores of individuals oblivious to my surreptitious surveillance techniques – Some plying their trade within the chambers of this mighty hospital; others congregating to take advantage of the NHS’s hospitality.

Shortly I’ll be undergoing an echo stress test to ascertain the level of cardiac damage sustained during my recent heart-attack. Quite clearly, I’m hoping to see positive results from the test – If not, at the very least, hopefully I’ll get my money back on the eight ‘bags for life’ I recently procured from my local supermarket.

Sitting on my left is my long-suffering spouse who’s forgoing the joys of people watching for the more intellectually challenging pastime of book reading. I’m unaware what tome holds her attention, however on the page she’s currently reading I can make out the words ‘Lauren’, ‘gregarious”, ‘sexily’ and ‘dishevelled’.

GJ Strachan is unable to ascertain the context in which the words are being utilised. However, from what I can pick up that Lauren seems a bit of a saucy mare with a penchant for gregarious behaviour.



As I commence this section of the prose I’ve returned home following my echo stress test.   Yours truly now reclined in an armchair whilst penning these sentiments; my laptop perching precariously on the chair’s arm. Which I suppose currently makes the device more of a chair arm-top than a laptop.

The echo stress test was quite physically challenging, as you’d expect when the medics aim is to get your heart rate up to 140 bpm pre-ultrasound scan. That being said, though, that strain levels of the echo test pale into insignificance compared to the mentally challenging Margaret Strachan stress test. An assessment incorporating mater asking me the same bloody question forty-eight times within the same hour!…… A West Yorkshire widow’s version of waterboarding.

On the conclusion of the test, I was heartened (excuse the pun) to hear that there has been some improvement in my cardiac function since the last ultrasound scan, performed shortly after my heart attack in mid-January. This update a much-needed fillip that I’m making positive progress, and my walking regime appears to be bearing fruit.

The news providing some reassurance at a time I’ve felt progress of my rehabilitation had stalled, and if anything had actually taken a backward step. Today’s post echo test mercifully contradicting those fears, dispelling my nagging self-doubt.

Hopefully when I commence my gym rehab sessions next Thursday, in association with my daily walk, there’ll be further progress. However, it’s important I stay grounded and patient with whatever recovery scenario I’m confronted with.

It’s key I avoid becoming complacent about the severity of the medical incident which blindsided me on January 11th 2019. After all, I’m potentially only an instance of Karen jumping out unexpectedly and yelling “Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!” away from another cardiac arrest.

The original heart attack has obviously made me a great deal more aware of my own mortality. Consequently, since that day I’ve made sure my financial affairs were in order and identified which legacies to bequeath my adult children. Along with securing assurances from Karen that she wouldn’t burn the books I’ve written if the worst happened.

To quote Woody Allen “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

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