‘My family helped so much!’
Paul, now 69, explains how support from family, friends and colleagues was so important to him after having a heart attack.
‘My heart attack was a shock’
‘Having a heart attack left me feeling shocked, but I was helped through it by the most tremendous support. My wife Janet and our daughter Laura, and my work colleagues were all great. There wasn’t a moment when there wasn’t someone at my bedside.
‘The day it happened started like any other, but by the time I got to work, I felt a bit grotty and had some discomfort in my throat. That afternoon, I was talking to my colleague when I suddenly felt very queasy. She went for help and I ended up in hospital with a suspected heart attack. An angiogram confirmed I had advanced coronary heart disease, and I was booked in for a quadruple bypass.
‘When I got home from hospital, I worried about having another episode or my chest wound splitting open. Janet was extremely patient, reassuring me, helping me wash and making sure I was comfortable. Laura was also a great help, not least by encouraging me to carry on with the rehabilitation exercises the physiotherapist had taught me. They were quite painful and frustrating, but she helped me stick with them.
We changed our diet together
‘Together, Janet and I also transformed our diet. We cut back on red meat, and started eating a lot more fruit and vegetables. With Janet’s help, I’ve learned to cook low-fat versions of my favourite curries – for example, boiling the meat before adding it to the curry mixture really helps reduce the fat.
‘I also gave up the cigarettes and started going to the gym regularly. I soon got to know people, which made it easier. I also incorporate more exercise into my daily life – for example, I wash the car myself rather than going to the car wash, and take the stairs rather than the lift.
‘I’ve had such wonderful emotional support from my family and friends. They’ve helped keep me positive, especially when I made the difficult decision to give up work. When I was at my lowest, their support really helped me hang on to my sense of self-worth.’
FIND OUT MORE:
Read our tips on how you and your family can support each other after a heart attack here.