08 December 2016

Gail joined Up and Active in Pendle after suffering heart failure at just 46.  The experience really knocked her confidence and she found being able to exercise under supervision was a great way to gain it back.

At 46 years old and always being fit and healthy, a visit to the doctors on the 20th January 2016 with chest pains was incredibly out of the ordinary. With no previous heart problems on either side of the family, my diagnosis of a grossly abnormal leaky mitral valve and fast atrial fibulation came as a massive shock to us all...I was given a cardio version which unfortunately only reverted my heart back into normal rhythm for 3 days. I was taking 3 different pulse slowing pills at the time but they didn't reduce it to much less than 100bpm....

Initially they thought the cause  for the damaged mitral valve could have been linked to childhood rheumatic fever but a transoesophageal echocardiogram and an MRI scan diagnosed a parachute type valve. A condition I was born with! Hard to believe it took 46 years to present itself.... But thank goodness it did!!

After suffering with heart failure, 5 months after the initial diagnosis I had successful surgery to replace my mitral valve along with an ablation. (I now have the titanium valve).  I made good recovery and was in sinus rhythm when I was discharged from hospital 7 days later.

A couple of weeks post surgery, I noticed the tell tale signs of atrial fibulation again but felt well.  I was advised this was quite normal after heart surgery and was advised not to worry.

When I met with the cardiac nurse for my initial consultation, a quick blood pressure check soon rang alarm bells as my pulse was racing at 117+bpm. She felt there was no option but to call 999 and I was soon blue lighted to Airedale hospital for further investigation.  I stayed in hospital for 5 days where I was placed on a heart monitor 24/7 and my medications were tweeked.  This didn't really make a huge difference and I was still in atrial fibulation when I was discharged from hospital.   

2 weeks later I had a routine appointment with my surgeon at Leeds general. My ECG results prompted a second cardio version which to date has been successful...  But Emma in the Up and Active team knows, I've struggled at times pushing myself too much in case my heart reverts back to AF.  Mind over matter I guess but still terrifying.

Needless to say, the rollercoaster ride I've been on this year has taken its toll on my confidence such a lot. I've had issues with anxiety, trouble sleeping, worried about driving, exercising going places on my own but the cardiac rehab pushed me to face many of my fears and concerns.  Emma has been a rock over the 12 week course.  I can't think where I'd be now without her patience, reassurance, belief and caring manner. I cannot thank this service enough.  Emma gave me the belief I "could" do it! I "could" push a little harder and I did! She listened to my worries and was a shoulder to cry on when I was having a rubbish day. She deserves a medal!! :)

I totally commend this service which has helped no end to build confidence, stamina and make me believe again that "I can do it" and that I'm better now.

I've since re registered membership at Barnoldswick Sports Centre and try to go once or twice a week. I do a yoga class and a hilly outdoor walk at least once a week.

I can't thank this service enough... I still have a little way to go but baby steps all the way. I'm now almost 6 months post surgery. I've been discharged from the care of my surgeon and cardio version clinic and I just have routine INR checks with the warfarin nurse... Hard to believe really!

Like the saying goes.... What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Thanks for everything, I'm sure my road to recovery both physically and mentally wouldn't have been just as speedy without this priceless service and Emma.