This morning my consultant cardiologist discharged me from further followup appointments. Meetings which since my heart attack in January have become an unwanted but necessary element of yours truly’s existence.
On leaving the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) my mind was cast back to Friday 11th January. A time laying in a cardio ward bed apprehensively wondering whether this Leeds Teaching Hospital chamber, a few hundred metres from the Hyde Terrace Maternity Ward were I entered this world in 1963, would be where I’d depart this vale of tears……. Notions I wrote about at that time from my ward bed, an essay of angst I titled A Wake Up Call . At that time my existential fate in the hands of LGI cardiologists, nursing and ancillary staff.
Thankfully my treatment strategy wasn’t dictated by old Arthur in the ward bed opposite; the octogenarian who eccentrically diagnosed me with indigestion. A prognosis leading to recommendations I ignore the meds nursing staff were administering for the ‘more effective’ antacid tablet Rennie.
Although idiosyncratic, Arthur was an endearing old chap. That being said, preferring my chest pain diagnosis to be undertaken by someone with six years medical training, as opposed to a quirky man in his dotage who reads his newspaper upside down, I chose not to heed my well-meaning fellow patient’s advice.
I think it’s fair to say that if I’d have followed Arthur’s remedy I’d not be here now. Or if I was it’d be in ash form; urn in situ on my bookcase adjacent to the books I self-published between 28th March 2015 and 10th January 2019. The two hundred and fifty (ish) narratives written since my heart attack passing with me to wherever deceased writers go.
I’ve no idea what the afterlife would offer me, however when I’m finally ‘pushing up the daisies’ I hope it’s a domain with marmite, Les Dawson monologues and you can stream Sinatra’s Capitol Year refrains.
I don’t know what became of Arthur. However, it was a relief two days later, as I lay on the operating table awaiting an angioplasty, seeing it wasn’t him undertaking the procedure. At least I don’t think he was behind any of the masks worn by the operating theatre team…… On the off chance you’re reading this Arthur, and the even smaller likelihood you were in stealth mode in the theatre when I had my procedure, I’m eternally grateful.
Seriously, though, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I owe my life to the splendid care and support I received from medical staff over those few days in January when hospital in situ. Without you I’d most likely be in aforementioned ash form; urn in situ on my bookcase adjacent to the books I self-published between 28th March 2015 and 10th January 2019.
The only part of me not cremated would be the beard I passed with which, along with my back hair, I’ve bequeathed to my aunt Mavis as stuffing for cushions she makes for her local women’s guild summer fete.
And while I’m dishing out plaudits for my recovery, it would be remiss of me not to mention my stents for their arterial widening qualities which’ve provided me with a new lease of life. This stenting (if there’s such a word) allowing me a second chance to embrace life, even if it’s resulted in my metal to body tissue ratio now being at a level where I’m now officially 25% robot.
Unsurprisingly, the last nine months haven’t been the best times of my life. It’s been physically draining, mentally fraught and at one time I lost enough weight I could’ve probably fit into a C3PO costume. However, it’s given me a real awareness of my own mortality, with a consequential behaviour change that I’ll take more risks and am now more inclined to ‘put my head above the parapet’.
Thank you to all the medical teams and ancillary workers at the LGI whose efforts gave me that second chance.
I best go as I’m starting to fill up……. Not with tears, I’m penning this concluding part of the narrative at an Esso garage while topping up my car’s fuel levels.