Diary of a Heart Attack.

Posted on 18/08/2019 By

A Very Serious Event: Diary of a Heart Attack.

Bertie: “Can you see over there across the bay, Eamonn? That’s Skomer Island.”

Bertie and Eamonn looking over the sea to Skomer Island.

Eamonn: “Ahh, Bertie. Oi would love to go tere.”

Bertie: “Well, Eamonn. When you came to us from Alice’s Bear Hospital, we did promise you adventures. How would like to take my place this Saturday on a trip to Skomer Island and on Monday for a week on Skokholm Island?”

Eamonn: “Wozza! That would be feckin’ marvellous.”

Bertie: “To be honest, Eamonn, I could do with a break from Bobby and his constant ‘rabbit rabbit rabbit‘. And I ‘ate being stuck in that bleedin’ rucksack. Plays havoc with me mohair. All you have to do is write a story for Mindfully Bertie all about it.”

Cue Chas and Dave:

Eamonn: “Well, Bertie. Oi luv Bobby’s chatter. Proper Oirish. Can I have some Oirish music in it?”

Bertie: “Of course, mate. Diddley loved Irish music and we can think of lots of tunes. Apart from Shane McGowan. All he does is bleedin’ swear.”

Eamonn: “I am not having any feckin’ swearing in my story, Bertie!”

Bertie: “Good. I’ll have a nice week in Solva, with Rosemary.”

Eamonn’s stories are there, but are overtaken by:

A Very Serious Event

Diary of a Heart Attack.

Eamonn: “Bobby and I had a lovely time on Dream Island. There were glorious summer days. A big storm. Some spectacular wildlife sightings. All will be revealed, as promised to Bertie. But now, it’s fast forward to a Very Serious Event.

Leaving at 09:00, we didn’t realise how momentous it would be. Across a crystal clear sea, we left Skokholm behind and aimed for the middle of Jack Sound, that separates Skomer from the mainland. There were gannets, cormorants, shearwaters all wheeling around on a perfect morning.

Eamonn: Last morning on Dream Island.

Last morning on Dream Island.

Small queue of people waiting for the little blue ferry as it approaches.

Here comes the Dale Princess.

On the blue ferry to the mainland waiting to leave. There is a sign in the background welcoming visitors to Skokholm Island - Bird Observatory.

Leaving Dream Island. Alison in front. Little did she know what was coming.

On the ferry. Two people, both called Sam, are viewed behind a big pile of luggage as they look back at the island.

Goodbye… Loads of luggage. Sam and Sam.

The two Sams posing on the boat behind the pile of luggage. Skomer is visible behind them.

Sam and Sam behind all that luggage. Skomer behind them.

Eamonn at the back of the ferry watching Skokholm fading into the distance.

Goodbye Dream Island. Until next year.

The Dale Princess slid once more into the mainland cove of Martin’s Haven near Marloes. Only five people had some seriously heavy luggage to get off the boat by human chain. Up the steep path and the steep road out of the cove.

Eamonn posing at Martin's Haven, with the sea behind him.

Martin’s Haven, where you catch the Dale Princess to the Islands. (Not the RIB in the picture). Rugged, picturesque. Where so many adventures for island lovers have started.

Bobby soldiered on, until he had reached Lockley Lodge. The Gift Shop. Shut. Then, it started…

Eamonn sat outside Lockley Lodge - the Information Centre at Martin's Haven.

Lockley Lodge. The gift shop, information centre and ticket seller for trips for the Wildlife

Over to Bobby.”

A Very Serious Event

Bobby: “On Skokholm Island, we all human chained luggage and food for about twenty people. Some leaving, some arriving. Really heavy bags. Just five of us leaving. Wonderful crossing, but seriously killing getting all the gear off at Martin’s Haven at the foot of the cove.

I walked up the hill to the visitor lodge, dragging a heavy wheeled bag and suddenly felt dizzy. Alison, another guest, and a family from Pembroke stayed with me. It got worse and worse. There was a seat. My eyesight started going. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t stand. Felt I was on the way out. Sweating. Could hardly speak. Alison rang 999. Took them half an hour to get there. They tried to get an Air Ambulance, but it was too far away to help. Real shame that.

A Welsh Air Ambulanceo on the tarmac.

Wow… Missed that. Welsh Air Ambulance.

“Well” said the paramedic. “You are having a heart attack.”

“Can you take a picture for posterity?”

Heart Attack: Last sighting for Bobby Ballcock for his blog! All wired up.

Last sighting for Bobby Ballcock for his blog!

A GTN spray under the tongue gave some instant relief. Covered in electrodes for the ECG, I was wheelchaired into the ambulance.

It was 1.5 hours in a blue lamp, siren screaming ambulance across rural Pembrokeshire and flat out down the M4 to Swansea. Straight into the coronary unit at Swansea, where they quickly decided to fit a stent. Four hours after initially feeling ill. This will be a blog! Can’t praise the NHS Wales enough. They probably saved my life. The pictures are in the ambulance. Even in dire straits I need pictures for a blog. They had given me something to stay alive for in the ambulance.

Bobby on the trolley in the ambulance. All wired up to monitors.

In the ambulance… Past caring.

Bobby, with Eamonn, on the trolley in the ambulance.

That’s better!

Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

The ambulance screamed into the coronary care centre and I was quickly transferred to the waiting team of cardiologists in this amazing room, with mind boggling equipment. I watched on the enormous screen as they stented the blocked artery. Half an hour later, feeling a bit better, I was in the Intensive Care ward.

All procedures carried out in agreement with St George’s, Tooting. The hospital that looks after other medical issues for my family.

So where do we stand? Here is the human heart:

Poster describing the layout of the heart.

Three arteries. My right coronary was blocked. The stent procedure also sucked out the clot. I am told the other two arteries are showing signs of wear. So this could be the start of a journey.

Eamonn sat in front of a portable X-Ray machine.

Portable X-Ray machine from planet Mars.

Eamonn buried under Bobby's notes at the foot end of the bed.

You did say it would be an adventure.

Eamonn and Bobby in the hospital bed.

Cheer up.

Eamonn sitting next to Bobby's bed pan...

“Is that big enough, Bobby?” “It is these days…”

Eamonn looking at Bobby's monitors.

You’re still alive, Bobby!

Leaflet: The Road to Recovery Following your Heart Attack.

The Road to Recovery Following your Heart Attack.

At the time this was written we were still in hospital, having superb treatment by NHS Wales – including the Ambulance Crew from Haverfordwest. A mobile phone in hospital and free WiFi is an absolute godsend if you remember paying extortionate prices in the past for a rubbish, privately owned television service to each bed. And, if you had a choice, try the Morriston Swansea, where the nurses all speak with that lovely dancing Welsh lilt. I will never forget it.”

Bobby was taken home the next day by his son Andrew. Less than four days after he had landed at Martin’s Haven and had the Heart Attack. Traumatised by the whole thing, but realistic to realise he was lucky. An hour earlier he had been on the Island.

Bertie: “Teddy bears are all heart. But don’t have the problems of humans. I am still with Rosemary in Solva, and it’s very nice. But one day I must go home to Laurel Cottage. Bobby needs me.”

Bertie in Rosemary's arms in the doorway of her conservatory.


Bertie’s new friend!

The car is still near Skomer and will come back one day. Eamonn has lots of stories from Skomer and Skokholm.

We close on the obvious. What many well wishers have alluded to and I am telling him now…

You thought you were Superman.

Picture of Superman - with Bobby's head super-imposed!

Others treated you as though you were.

But, you are not. Just a tired old git, who talks too much.

This IS Superman:

Lighting a Candle for Diddley and NHS Wales.

Lighting a Candle for Diddley and NHS Wales. Bertie & Eamonn, St Non's Chapel, St David's.

St Non’s Chapel, St David’s.


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Bobby BallcockCountrysideDream IslandIllnessWildlife    

  1. Stuart Ogden says:

    Welcome to the club. Emily calls it heart scaffolding. Best wishes from Stuart.

  2. kate lanham says:

    you are so clever to survive a heart attack and turn it into a blog… for our amusement, entertainment and information. thanks for being brave as always, stoic and honest. So glad you survived!

  3. Baby Ball says:

    Strewth. For some, a heart attack might lead them to finding religion. You found Westlife. What’s next? Take That? Come home soon Bertie and sort him out. p.s. if it has to be You Raise Me Up, at least go with the original by Secret Garden.

  4. Baby Ball says:

    Strewth. For some, a heart attack might lead them to finding religion. You found Westlife. What’s next? Take That? Come home soon Bertie and sort him out. p.s. if it has to be You Raise Me Up, at least go with the original by Secret Garden.

  5. Sally Elias says:

    OMG! OMG! OMG! You are a survivor for sure. Sending big bear hugs and healing love vibes. Hope to see you meandering in Dorks soon. Sally X

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