Gavin’s Story …

It’s November 2012 and I’ve just popped in to see Dr. Dingle about a touch of flu that seems to have settled onto my chest, me thinks a session with some antibiotics should do the trick. ‘Not so fast’, says he ‘first tell me about those times you find yourself out of breath’.

That was the beginning. Before I knew it I was on a treadmill at Lancaster Hospital, breathing heavily into various tubes under the watchful eyes of a couple of medics – results were duly analysed and a subsequent angiogram confirmed my worst fears – at least one blocked artery, possibly two – ‘we recommend a by-pass’, ouch. It’s now February 2013.

By the time I underwent my operation in April 2013 I had been sufficiently educated in the workings of my heart and the surgeon’s intentions that I could have given a presentation on the subject! That said, nothing could alleviate the panic & real fear that I felt when I entered that theatre.

I shouldn’t have worried. A few hours later I woke up to the soothing sound of Charlotte, the CITU nurse, and my beloved partner Maureen gently stroking my arm with that ‘hello again’ look on her face. 5 days later and I was home.

Since then it’s been ‘onwards & upwards’. What started as baby-steps along our street culminated in a short walk to the golf club and my first post-op pint a week later! Little by little, I grew stronger & more confident but the real improvements started when I met the nurses & staff of the Heartbeat organisation.

If I was asked to sum up my thoughts about Heartbeat in a single word it would be … ‘Safe’ because that’s the way they have made me feel since that first tentative visit. Their professionalism, friendship and understanding, throughout what has been a traumatic experience, has given me a positive outlook and one I can build upon for a brighter future. They have armed me with a better understanding of ‘healthy living’ and, in the company of like-minded individuals, my twice-weekly visits to their gym ensure that the repairs undertaken by those wonderful people last April is maintained.

It now takes me a bit longer to get out of breath – an hour in the Heartbeat gym normally does it (!) but recovery time is much quicker and you can’t buy the glow you feel stepping outside afterwards. Ben Nevis beckons once more!

What started off as part of my recovery but has since become a vital part of my day-to-day. So ‘Thank you’ Heartbeat. Long may we both continue.