It’s seven o’clock on August 12 2019 on Dream Island. Richard tells Bobby the boat will be coming at 09.30. It’s time to pack and leave the island. A few more days in Solva, with Rosemary to pick me up. Dinner at Something’s Cooking that evening. He loves his fish and chips after a week of basic cooking. And it will be nice to see Tundi.
And here is the Dale Princess. Our boat and old friend for the last twenty four years to the islands. It’s a glorious morning to say goodbye to Skokholm. See you next year. Passing Skomer, full of memories. And finally Martins Haven and the mainland. The last time to hump heavy luggage off the boat and up the hill out of the cove. But, as we know, he never made it. Or rather he did – in an ambulance. As Richard said at least he waited until he got to the mainland. The rest is history. Related before in a Very Serious Event.
But, for this story, we mustn’t forget what he was told in Swansea Morriston Hospital. He was very lucky. To survive, of course, but in particular that an hour earlier he had been on a remote Wildlife Island. The paramedics probably saved him in Martins Haven before the drive down the M4 at break neck speed. On the island… who knows? But there was one other significant event in Swansea hospital. Nowadays an inpatient only needs a smart phone for all communications with the outside world. A deluge of good wishes flowed his way on Facebook. Including old work mates from years ago. Some of whom had had similar experiences. One, another Richard, told him he must go to Cardiac Rehab. He did and that is the most important single thing he did towards recovery.
He was offered an eight week course at Epsom General. Those eight weeks were great. Recovering from a heart attack is as much mental as physical. You are under medical supervision. Mary and Nikki – Cardiac Nurses. Steve – trainer. Blood pressure, weight, heart rate, camaraderie. Suddenly he did have a future. The once a week gym work at the hospital was combined with a fitness programme for the rest of the week. Over eight weeks the weight kept reducing and the fitness improving. All too soon it was over. How could he carry it on? Eventually he found a solution. Friend Rob said why didn’t he try the YMCA gym at Redhill?
He was referred by Epsom General with support from his doctor and joined Cardiac Rehab referral in the YMCA gym at Redhill. It was a revelation. John the trainer devised a programme for him that gave settings and times for each piece of apparatus. He made friends with kindred spirits, but also bought a pair of Bluetooth head phones to listen to his favourite music. Within a short while he was going three times a week. John upped the programme targets. This was great. Then came lockdown. How disappointing was that! After a short while, all the Cardiac Rehab group got an email from Wayne. Top cardiac trainer at the YMCA. Would we like to try an experiment? ZOOM GYM. We all did. Upwards of 25 settled in eventually to three days a week. One hour.
Warm up, work out, cool down. Muted while Wayne dishes out instructions, encouragement, banter and endless enthusiasm. Just recently they had a coffee morning in their own houses to celebrate 2000 attendances at zoom Cardiac Rehab gym. Bobby can’t believe his luck. He feels better now than before the heart attack. He is still slowly losing weight. Walking, cycling. He has his down days. GAD is sometimes lurking, but all he needs to do is to read this and remind himself that he was so lucky a year ago. So lucky with Epsom General, St Georges Hospital and the YMCA. But then I told him…. Being lucky is one thing. You have to make best use of your luck and I think he has.
This story was written on an iPad sitting on a swing seat all morning at Wisley Gardens. Read on for cardiac rehab tit-bits.
Cardiac Rehab Titbits… Diary of a Heart Attack.
At first he was banned from driving. Bobby 2 came out and was wheeled to the bus stop. Then half way to Dorking. Then the whole way. Back home on the 93 bus. Waitrose were great. Each week he posted “Diary of a Heart Attack“ on Facebook. Based on Bobby 2, bears, and a T-shirt story. Here’s just a few. Music instead of stories. Even when he was allowed to drive, he wheeled Bobby 2 to Dorking for Cardiac Rehab. About two miles. Initially cardiac medication was in conflict with von Willebrands. The solution for three months was twice weekly visits to St George’s and the Ruth Myles unit. To be honest, it was no ordeal for him. Getting there was combined with fast walks. Morden Hall Park. Even towards central London. Many stories were written, including all those on the local tube trains. And, of course, regular contact with haemophilia nurses Roisin and Wandai was good for his mental state. As was going to an Airshow by train just six weeks after the very serious event. Catching a train to Wales for a long weekend to bring me back. I had a lovely time with Rosemary and learned to speak Welsh. Staying in London for Christmas. Climbing Swifts Hill in February, despite thinking he never would again. Going on the last course with the Gentle Author in Spitalfields. Lockdown has been difficult, but has been offset by the fitness programme. Country walks nearly every day. Zoom has transformed everything. Al-Anon, mindfulness but, most of all, Zoom gym from the YMCA. As far as the cardiac referred group are aware only the YMCA has offered this simply brilliant service. Long may it continue.
So… if you have a heart attack. Don’t die. If you survive you are dead lucky. Take advantage of our wonderful health service. And, most important of all, be sure to go to Cardiac Rehabilitation. And keep it up. Forever. You could be a new person. Thanks Richard.
Queen: I want to break free.
Katie Melua: Wonderful Life.
Simple Minds: Alive and Kicking.
Reba McEntire: Starting all over again.
Sia: Never Give Up
Emerson Lake and Palmer: Lucky Man.
Brenda Lee: Bring me sunshine.
Lighting a Lucky Candle for Diddley.