Out of survivor mode

Okay, so my heart stopped beating for several minutes last

But I’m still here.

And this week has been a bit special.

  • Eight months to the day since I was admitted to Southend
    Resus, just a few minutes before my heart temporarily retired.
  • Six months to the day since I had my CRT-D implant at Essex
    CTC. The pacemaker/defibrillator is working wonders for me.
  • And has won me back my car driving licence, also this week.
  • And my younger son has gifted me his new(ish) BMW as a treat
    for recovering and to help me start my new job, again all in this
    one week! 

How kind everyone has been.

How important family and friends have been to me through my recovery to date.

I am a lucky man.

But yesterday was perhaps the most important day since January

It started off as a miserable, grey, wet, windy day by the seaside where we live. Like many survivors, I don’t have a great night sleeps, so I was up with the cats just after 05:00. I pottered around, tidied the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, fed the cats, opened the cat flap, made myself some toast covered with the best strawberry jam known to man or woman (made by an amazingly talented neighbour).

My wife wandered down to a steaming mug of coffee. The Lady has been my saviour through all the awful days and nights earlier this year. She has been the guiding light, keeping me going in the worst of times. Calm, collected, loving, caring – no wonder her great grandmother was a nurse who served with Florence Nightingale. Mrs. D has definitely inherited the strong, caring genes. The Lady even has a remarkable semblance to the uniformed nurse who is photographed and framed and hangs in pride of place in our hallway. A family treasure passed down the generations.

But here I go again, wandering off on another tangent.

Yesterday became really special when my brilliant brother-in-law popped in. We sat in the kitchen, safely distanced, and chatted.

And I realised he was smiling at me.

Anyone who knows him also knows what a decent man he is.

He leaned forward and just said:

“Freddie, you are back, mate.”

At that moment my brain changed gear. Out of survivor mode, out of holding back just in case mode, out of what the hell is going to happen to me next mode.

I am now officially in positive, forward, excited for every day of my life mode.

I just needed confirmation and my brother-in-law gave it to me in spades.

By way of celebration, Mrs D and I went out for Sunday lunch today. First meal out since 29 February, when I was sent home for my birthday, between resus/critical care, recuperation and actual implant.

So, what can I say to my fellow survivors here, members of Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK? 

It’s simple.

You are the best group of people it has been my privilege to meet.

You have been amazing in all the support, advice, metaphorical hugs and lifts you have freely given me, a complete online stranger who bumped into your world back in April.

Thank you all.

6 Replies to “Out of survivor mode”

  1. Really pleased for you Freddie. Very well done. I suffered a Cardiac Arrest on 16 May 20 and had an CRT-D fitted on the 28 May 20. After spending just over two weeks in the RUH Bath and then the Bristol Heart Institute (what brilliant staff in both hospitals), with the amazing support of my dear wife whose tolerated my ups and downs with great patience, love and care (not to mention her CPR and quick reaction skills) , I am also making a good recovery. I recently applied for the return of my driving license and hopefully will be back on the road by Christmas. I still have the same fears that Freddy once had but hopefully in time they will go! Many thanks also to the Cardiac Arrest website which has helped my recovery immensely. Keep going all you survivor out there

  2. Christopher, good to hear you are recovering. As you will appreciate, there are nights and days when you despair of making progress. I have finally accepted life a bit more slowly and feel much better for it. If you want some practical tips on dealing with DVLA, please read Stuart Menzies excellent guide in the education units. And I have just been through the process and understand what to do and not do, so happy to give you assistance. Keep well and keep healing.

    1. Thank you for that Freddie. Can I ask what sort of (if any) rehabilitation you received from your local Health Authority. I’m informed by my local health authority that there is no national aftercare for cardiac arrest patients; only for those that have suffered a heart attack. There’s so many questions I need to ask but unable to do so!!! I’ve had my ICD checked but that’s all. Can I ask how long you felt vulnerable to another cardiac arrest for? That I think is my biggest worry. I used to run daily but afraid to do that as I’ll be out on my own.
      My driving license has been revoked even though I informed DVLA in the first instance. I admit however submitting the wrong form in my confused state at the time…..so not sure how much of a difference that will make in getting it back.
      Keep well yourself & thank you.

      1. Hi, Chris –
        Rehab. I accessed the new physio by video programme and was Patient Number One here in Southend. Not all Health Authorities offer this but call local physio dept at nearest hospital, enquire, and if they do have it, you’ll need to get a referral from your GP. WARNING: Many GPs still don’t know such services exist. You’ll need a smartphone or tablet and it’s brilliant. I had 7 weeks, lots of equipment delivered to make life easier, etc. Some LAs also offer Get Well programmes but again patchy across the country. Never felt vulnerable strangely enough once I had the CRT-D in. I knew I had a pacemaker and defibrillator working for me. However, still dealing with some of the mental and physical effects. Wew all react differently. Did five one hour counselling session via Zoo, Brilliant lady who works at Basildon CTC where many of have been treated. I paid privately to get her help but she was very reasonable and brilliant and understanding. Can give you her name/number if you need it.
        DVLA – don’t be put off by all the stories. They were brilliant with me. Call the Drivers Medical Unit direct, might take some time to speak to them, but they will guide you through. They are slow, due to pandemic anyway and if you need help with forms, just ask. I have only just got my licence back after surrender and then revocation but I got it back on the exact day, six months later. Cannot fault their service. Happy to take you through the forms too. Its easy to tick the wrong boxes!
        Right, have to go now as I have a 3.5 hour Zoom conference, as I should have gone to Prague but it was cancelled. Just give me a shout tonight if you need any help. The people on SCA-UK have been brilliant helping me and It’s a pleasure to put some effort back to help others.
        best wishes

  3. Hi, Chris – sorry I had to break off. Did virtual conference for 4 hours! Flu jab at GPs just now, then back on Zoom for the America’s track at 6pm. Hopefully be finished by 7pm. If you need any help on DVLA etc, happy to help.

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