WDICDSG Committee member
I have worked in the Horticultural,
Arboricultural and Countryside Conservation Field all my working life, predominately in the County of Surrey and mostly on
the practical side, so lots of exercise through digging, climbing, chainsaw work and planting etc. In addition I had always
been active in my spare time through my hobbies of Judo, Archery, Walking & Allotmenting. I have never smoked or drunk
My first heart problems occurred in 1990 at the tender age of 36, with light chest pain developing into
severe unstable angina over a period of approx 7 days. The cause was a blocked artery which took 12 months and three attempts
at angioplasty (no stents available at this time) to sort out under the care of St George's Hospital in London.
were then fairly settled with intermittent hiccups and I was once again able to undertake a full range of work and sports
activities until 2010 when I started to get breathless during physical activity which slowly got worse. I was then being treated
under Frimley Park Hospital and was referred to The Royal Surrey. Tests found an enlarged heart (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) together
with an arrhythmia in the bottom heart chambers (Ventricular Tachycardia) and this was treated with the implantation of a
Bi-ventricular Pacemaker in 2012 together with a variety of medication. Surgery was needed on two further occasions over the
next six months to re-fix two leads that had become dislodged.
Once all fitted and working properly this gave great
improvement to the activity levels I was able to achieve.
During 2012 we had bought a home on Portland and a year
later decided to take early semi-retirement and move down from Surrey permanently.
At my first cardiac clinic under
Dorset County Hospital in 2013 it was recommended that the pacemaker be upgraded to an ICD and this was undertaken the same
year. At this time it was considered too risky to remove the old pacemaker leads so new leads were installed for the ICD and
I have a spare set in-case I ever need further jump starting!
Unfortunately there has been a slow deterioration of
my Heart Failure symptoms, greatly reducing the amount of physical activities I enjoy.
In March 2017 an alarm was
triggered in my ICD. I did not know it had one so it was a bit scary at the time! The alarm indicated that I was having
arrhythmia problems in the top heart chambers (Atrial Fibrillation). This was soon treated with anticoagulants followed by
a successful cardio-version (Heart stopping and restarting through the ICD) so the AF is currently under control.
of the Heart Failure symptoms has also led to congestion of the heart and liver causing lots of problems with nausea. I have
been advised that there is little more that can be done to improve things, so we have to live with what we have and hope things
remain stable and do not deteriorate any further too soon.
Everything physical now has to be undertaken slowly and
in small chunks. We have just finished landscaping our back garden which has taken 12 months. A task I would have completed
in 4 weeks when fit! It has only been finished thanks to my wife Jackie who has undertaken all the wheelbarrowing and heavy
moving. She has been my rock in these difficult years.
Although there have been no silver bullets to cure my problems,
I have had excellent care from the NHS on these matters.
I have been a member of the Support Group since 2013 and
a committee member from 2016. I have found the Support Group very helpful, especially in the first year after the ICD was
installed. It was good to know I was not the only one and useful to hear how other members have a variety of differing symptoms
and how they live with them. Also, thanks to the talks and presentations I am far more aware of how an ICD works together
with a better understanding of how the heart functions and what other care and treatment may be available. I also greatly
enjoy the social interaction, even though there are so many groans to the questions and answers to my meeting quizzes!
Tony and I have
been married for over forty years. We met when he was my supervisor when I started my horticultural training at the Welwyn-Hatfield
Council nursery in 1975. One way of ensuring that sacks of compost would be off loaded from the lorry for me!
youngest son was only 14 months old when Tony's heart problems started. Very scary at the time and the drive from Camberley
up to the old part of St George's in Tooting was not the best. But we adapted and Tony's heart settled
down with medication and supervision and family life continued with near normality.
I passed my exams but didn't
pursue horticulture as a career, but am a very keen amateur. I have an allotment where I grow cut flowers for the house and
have had an input into our new garden - when Tony allows me. I have had a variety of administration based jobs, including
being the Parish Clerk for a village in Surrey, Practice Administrator for an Equine Veterinary Surgery near Guildford and
am currently working part time as a Receptionist for a local Small Animal Veterinary Practice.
I used to own my own
horse but here in Weymouth, apart from gardening and dragging Tony around as many local plant nurseries and garden centres
as I can, I have joined the local sports centre where I do a couple of circuit training classes a week plus pilates. I also
enjoy walking our terrorist (sorry terrier) Popcorn, bird watching, and we support many of the wonderful and diverse events
put on by Dorchester Arts and Arts Reach.
I am looking forward to more wheelbarrowing as we re-model the front garden
plus keeping track of Tony's many and varied medical appointments.
I have been Treasurer for only a year and I
have found the support given by the ICD Group invaluable as there is always someone that you can talk to and ask for advice