‘Definitive answers’…

Thursday 10th October 2019 (continued):

…are apparently what I’m going to get!

London was London…someone almost lost a limb on the Tube because he couldn’t wait just two minutes for the next train. However, my first cardiac sarcoidosis appointment was fairly short and sweet but seemingly successful.

The cardiologist took down notes as I rattled on about all my recent significant illnesses (his pen actually ran out halfway through) – my heart, ongoing UTIs, kidney stones, previous neurological shit – and he reckons there’s a good chance they’re all linked. BUT only PET scans, which detect inflammation, and probably further MRI and CT scans will absolutely nail it. And they will be looked at by sarcoidosis specialists who only deal with that one disease…day in, day out.

So, I should get a date in a couple of weeks for when I will have to go back for a whole day of tests and possibly an overnight stay…I’m sure my boss will be thrilled! Possibly even as much as I am at the prospect of a dried out, curled up hospital meal.

One thing the specialist did say was that my “heart attack” was unique…not like any other…and probably only got given that terminology as there is no other current medical term for it.

I’ll be in the bloody Lancet yet! Either that or some “crazy hairstyles of the decade” journal given three folk asked if they could photograph my mop today. Seriously, you’re in London. I live the sticks. You really ought to get out more!


Cardiac sarcoidosis appointment

Thursday 10th October 2019:

I’m channelling my inner Wonder Woman again today as I’ve got a cardiac sarcoidosis appointment at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital. They’re like gold dust and I only got told about it last week so it’s either a cancellation or they’re concerned. I’m wearing matching underwear and my will is written so I guess I’m all good to check out…but only if I really have to, and frankly I’ve not tried nearly enough cake in my lifetime yet!

I jest but I have increasingly found myself short of breath these last few weeks. Again, there is the conundrum of whether it’s my lungs or my heart that’s at fault…or possibly neither. I am, as we know, slightly more prone to panic attacks these days. Need I remind you of my sports shop debacle not long after my heart attack? I won’t be lying down on any floors today to calm myself though as there’s not nearly enough time. I’m already on a train to the big smoke from Birmingham and afterwards I’m meeting my best mate Lucie back in Brum for dinner.

Life is busy but fun. I’m six weeks in to the temporary job on the sub editors’ desk. It’s flown and I love it…even if it has taken until now to get my staff pass to actually let me in. I’ve only worked for the BBC for a mere 20-odd years.

Anyway, right now I must try to live up to my new nickname “Super Paz”, as dubbed by my Brum colleagues. Though if I fail, as one of them (Jay) quickly pointed out: “We will just use it ironically.”


I got the job!

Friday 9th August 2019:

On the five-month anniversary of the day I was told I had suffered a minor heart attack, I am happy to report I got the job!!!

I’m moving to Birmingham part-time for three months from September to work on the sub editors’ desk, with the colleagues who have possibly (most likely) been silently correcting my copy since I started this blog! You know who you are…

I’ll learn so much. It’s exciting…and just a little bit terrifying…but most of all it’s a challenge. You can either feel hard done by or you can just bloody well get on with it. To be honest ill health has brought far more positives than negatives so crack on life…bring it on.

My heart is normal and I’ve now been off all my cardiac medication for a couple of weeks. The cardiologist didn’t seem convinced it was the right move at first as I’m a bit of a special case but hey, I’ve not dropped dead so that’s surely hopeful.

My sprained ankle is healing well and so I’m back running almost every day which is frankly as good for the mind as it is for the heart and waistline.

I’ve been enjoying the hamster wheel of work, more days out, I’ve even been on holiday with the family to “posh Butlins” as someone put it…I still haven’t been able to bring myself to tackle the pain in the neck that is travel insurance so staycations it is…AND I completed the Crystal Maze for my best friend Lucie’s 40th in Manchester. A weekend of being very northern and retro. Perfect!

Oh, and I almost forgot…I sold the warts I’d helpfully developed on my hand to my Dad for a penny…he honestly asked for them…but that old wive’s tale was utter bunkham and I resorted to the over-the-counter ointment I should have used in the first place as they were banished in a few days.

It appears the only thing wrong with me…and I appreciate this is subjective…is the 12th damned UTI I have recently developed after the long course of low-dose antibiotics the urologist put me on, and felt confident would cure me, came to an end. Sigh!

I’ve got another appointment with him next week where he’s likely to suggest a camera might be the best way to see what’s going on. Gulp!

The good thing is, if he wants to blast the kidney stones he now can as I’m no longer at risk of bleeding to death because of the blood thinners. Silver linings and all that.

So anyway, I’m not quite sure what to do with myself now I have very few ailments to whinge about. Answers on a postcard…


‘Entirely normal’

Monday 15th July 2019:

It’s been a while so let me bring you up to speed…

It’s just over four months since my heart attack, I’ve been back at work for six weeks – full-time for five, my heart is now “entirely normal” according to an echo scan and MRI, my lungs are also functioning as they should despite the sarcoidosis and I’ve not had a UTI for longer than I care to remember. Plus, I’m being referred to London’s Royal Brompton Hospital to try and get to the bottom of the sarc and avoid any further complications. I think I’ve had enough of those.

Aside from that I’ve done a spot of raving, misbehaving and DJ-ing, watched fabulous sunsets, been reunited with family, old chums like Rocky and Tanya, celebrated friends’ 30ths, 50ths and my Dad’s 70th.

In other news, I applied for a promotion – got an interview, was then shortlisted but didn’t get it. It’s a bit disappointing but as I was reminded, more than once, 16 short weeks ago I was in a hospital bed. Ah yes…

I think I’m ok. Do you know what? It’s almost like it never happened. Except I’m a very different person now. Me and the kids made it to school drop by the skin of our teeth the other morning (one wouldn’t get dressed and was jiggling around the living room naked) and I only had a slight sweat on! If it’s out of your control, let it go…

Easier said than done though when you’ve been told (by your fabulous personal physio friends – thanks Cat and Liam) not to run for eight weeks after rolling your ankle at netball. I really do love Yeovil hospital…and a drama by the look of it. Due to my blood-thinning meds I was whizzed through and seen in 45 minutes despite a general four-hour wait. I’ll have my own wing next.

So anyway, I also retired from netball earlier this month…and then reinstated my position as captain after realising I may have been a little rash.

Of course having a heart attack doesn’t get you out of PTA chair duties (I partly organised the bloody Easter bingo from my hospital bed) and now my job application has been unsuccessful and I won’t be changing my four, 10-hour shifts to five, eight-hour shifts “their loss is the school’s gain” as the headteacher put it. I swear there’s a “you have to already be mega busy” prerequisite to volunteer work. Though I do seem to thrive on it…oddly.

Other than that I’m very much looking forward to celebrating my best friend Lucie’s 40th in style this weekend in Manchester with Jenny, Lydia, Louisa, Faye, Aimee and Vicky (non of whom I have seen since I decided to have a ticker-wobble). Though I’m not sure the city is ready for us.

What would be excellent though is if I could rid my hand of the warts I’ve recently developed as a result of a low immune system…just fucking marvellous…along with the nickname my kids came up with – “witchy toad finger”.

Yes…I love you too.


I survived…

Friday 7th June 2019:

I’ve been back at work for a week, joined the gym, bossed my longest run post heart attack…and survived!

No-one made a massive fuss as I returned to the grindstone, which was lovely as I was able to hold it together emotionally. That’s not to say they were an uncaring bunch…far from it. I got flowers, a card and many hugs as I visited colleagues in both the Southampton and Dorchester offices. But I was able to remain in control. It’s also like I was never away. I feel more “me” than I have ever felt. And that’s the thing about life-changing shit…it makes you reassess! Clears your head.

Ok…so next week might be more of a shock to the system as I go back to full time hours as opposed to half days…I’m such a skiver!

Anyway, that’s back to work done and I am exactly 13 weeks post heart attack. WOWZERS!

Now I just need to see all of my family and the long-serving friends in Preston I’ve not already caught up with….you remember…the ones I was first to text when I went into hospital, despite them being 300 miles away…Lucie, Jenny, Kate, Andy, Dan, Emma, Laura, Liam, Leanne…

However, my gran…my only remaining grandparent…the one with dementia…she’s the one I miss the most. But I missed her long before my heart attack. Thank God she has no idea! I wonder what she had for tea tonight…and if she remembers me at all?

Enough of that maudlin nonsense though…my thespian daughter is in her first proper play this weekend – Annie Jr. There’s so much to be thankful for!


The final countdown

Friday 31st May 2019:

It’s been a couple of weeks since I blogged…the days keep running away with me.

There have been afternoons out at the seaside and a reunion with one of my oldest friends, Kate, who trekked 300 miles south from Preston for a post-heart attack cuddle…mind you I do make a cracking curry and I think that may have been her true motive.

I’ve also had my long-awaited cardiac MRI, the results of which should come back next week…oh, and I also did my best Bart Simpson impression by managing to stain my face bright yellow. That’s what you get for re-dying your hair on the same day you head to the gym!

Although I still miss my cardiac rehab buddies, at least there’s a chance I might form some new allegiances now I have my GP gym referral. I’ve got my first session with a personal trainer on Sunday…I sense some John Wayne swaggering come Monday.

My fitness is definitely improving though as I’ve just finished my longest solo run…three miles in just over 30 minutes, and that includes stopping for a chat with my lovely friend Bex.

Given I’m now on my ninth UTI since Christmas – as kidney stones hell continues – and I was struggling to motivate myself and dropping off to sleep at any given moment last week, this feels like somewhat of a triumph.

Hopefully the half a stone of water retention I gained in just three days will jog on soon too as I need to look good for my return to work NEXT WEEK! Yep, you heard it right. I got the ok from occupational health last week so I’m almost back in the game and it can’t come soon enough.

Tick, tick…BOOM!


Lasts and firsts

Sunday 19th May 2019:

I had to say farewell to my remaining heart buddies at rehab on Monday as I reached my final session, which I’ll admit was particularly crushing. I now feel a little lost. In a selfish way, I hope they do too. It would be great if I’ve been as important to their recovery as they have to mine. I know they’ll miss my cakes and, more so, my hair changes. I think though we will all miss instructor Matt’s synonymous phrase when he wanted us to march on the spot: “Juuuust pacing”.

My sadness has, however, been balanced somewhat with emotional reunions with old friends who I hadn’t seen since before my attack. Seeing Seren in Bath was possibly the most surreal as I’d only met with her the last time on what was to be the day before I ended up in that ambulance.

I still have a few more of these get-togethers to go with my long-distance chums and they never get any less momentous. Immediately I am transported back to that rather rigid bed on resus awaiting the results of my CT scan, not knowing if I’d ever see any of them again.

Before the tears roll, though, I also think about the drug addict in the next bay who was surrounded by police officers and my jestful concern about being caught red-handed with the security tag still attached to my dressing gown.

The stupid thing hadn’t set the alarm off at the shop I’d bought it from as I exited the door a couple of weeks before. It had, however, made the buzzers go off in every other store I’d trundled to and from that day…but could I find the bloody thing as I rummaged through my bags? No!…because it was hidden under the damned lapel. I made sure it remained that way that night. This still makes me smile.

Where there is dark there is always light relief if you look hard enough for it.

This week I also found my dancing legs for the first time post heart wobble. Now this form of exercise is definitely my drug of choice…way better than clopidogrel and aspirin…and it felt great to reach the high before hitting the hay well before midnight. I might not be completely back to normal but I’m getting there. I’m definitely a cheap date these days that’s for sure…a couple of glasses of wine and I’m anyone’s. If they’ve heard about my dickie ticker though they’ll probably give me a wide berth.

In other news, I bought a ridiculously expensive pair of shoes because…well, just because….and I’ve booked myself onto a neuro sarcoidosis seminar at London’s Royal Free next month. It’s the only UK hospital that specialises in the disease. I’m scared what I might find out but I’m prepared to fight.


The “heart attack card”

Saturday 11th May 2019:

For how long is it acceptable to play the “heart attack card”?

Leaving hospital in a Wonder Woman dressing down – “It’s fine, I’ve just had a heart attack. Let them judge me.”

Screaming, argumentative kids – “For crying out loud, Mummy’s just had a heart attack, so unless you want to give me another one please kill each other quietly.”

Picking up the kids from school/general errands – “Pretty please can YOU do it today. I’m tired. I HAVE just had a heart attack you know. I might have a nap on the sofa.”

Getting a new car for yourself when it’s actually your husband’s car that needs replacing – “You can have my car. It’s a good car. I NEEEEED a new one. I’ve just had a heart attack. I nearly died.”

Midlife crisis complete…maybe!

P.S. If you fancy a 17-year-old VW Beetle, I know a decent one going for a good price. Erm…have I mentioned I’ve just had a heart attack?


Screw you sarcoidosis!

Wednesday 8th May 2019:

I’ve actually just thrust my fists in the air and “whooped” out loud, twice – once while plodding along the main A30 through Sherborne – on completing a 2-mile run in 22 minutes and 29 seconds, with one mile sub 11 minutes!

I may have got some funny looks but I don’t actually care one bit. Send the men with the white coats if you like.

Sarcoidosis, you will not take my heart, you will not take my lungs, you will not take my bloody kidney and you will certainly not take me.


I feel more alive than ever, plus I had my last life coaching session earlier because I’ve “taken back control”, as Chris my coach put it, and I’ve got a meeting with my boss, Michael, and occupational health in two weeks.

I’m heading ever closer to my goal of going back to work.

I’ve almost cried happy tears more than once today.

Today has been a great day!


Back to netball

Tuesday 7th May 2019:

OK, so after a weekend spent in and out of hospital it’s been confirmed I’ve got two stones in my left kidney but that doesn’t explain the ache in the right side of my lower back.

To cut a long story short, I’m now awaiting an appointment with a urologist and I’ve also been referred for an urgent colonoscopy after an ultrasound found my gallbladder to be in good shape. The doctors are keen to rule absolutely all possible causes out. All dignity lost…mind you I have had kids so the bench mark was already pretty low.

Funny how it’s taken a heart attack to make the professionals sit up and take notice of stuff that’s been giving me gyp for years. I know you’re supposed to have a full MOT health check at 40 but this is frankly ridiculous.

Though not as insane as my seven-year-old having to slow the pace of a 15-minute run yesterday so I could keep up with him. It was his first ever run and although it was probably one of my slowest one-mile runs at 12 minutes and 32 seconds, Huey-Jay was thrilled so I guess I should be too. We smashed it!

In fact, it’s been a bit of a winning start to the week all round…I played my first netball match tonight, on the eve of the two-month “anniversary” of my heart attack, and we beat the other team by 13 goals. My friend Abi plays for the opposition so it always feels a bit weird…well, for about five seconds until I remember WE WON! Sorry Abi…