It was the 2-year anniversary of my OHSCA recently and I thought it might be good to summarise where I am with my own recovery. When you come through an SCA, you have lots of emotions to deal with and an overload of information when you are least prepared to deal with it.
Everyone’s recovery is different and depends on so many factors.
The following will have shaped my own experience.
- I had a heart attack seven days before my SCA
- I was very fit prior to my heart attack
- I received CPR within 2 minutes of my SCA and had ROSC in around 10 minutes, and
- My SCA was idiopathic, and as such, I was fitted with an S-ICD
My post-SCA questions
While still in hospital, awaiting my S-ICD implant, I made a list of questions for the cardiologist and still have these on my phone. As you can see from the image below, these questions covered both my immediate future and longer-term ambitions to ‘get back to a normal life’.
My Physical & Mental Recovery
The What & The Why
Within six months of my SCA, I had met most of the people that were involved in my immediate chain of survival. I had learned the details of how I was being treated, the drugs administered and the clinicians’ thoughts at the time with regard to my likely survival. More recently, I have spoken to my cardiologist, and while my event was idiopathic, I have been given a likely cause, which reassuringly puts me at low risk of a repeat event. Having said that, I thought I was low risk in the first case!
On leaving hospital, I was taking eight pills each day. Some of these were specific short-term drugs to minimise arrhythmia and clotting issues. Two years on, I am taking just 3.
Life with an S-ICD
The information I received from the hospital regarding my S-ICD was minimal, generic and overly cautious. I left hospital wondering how I was supposed to live my life with so many restrictive measures to follow. Not satisfied with this position, I tracked down a comprehensive, device-specific guide that proved to be far less burdensome, and apart from a solid lump protruding from the side of my chest, day-to-day living with my device gives me no concerns.
Things most people take for granted: work, exercise and driving
Within three months, I was back full-time at my desk-based job. Within six months, with the psychological help of exercise rehab, I was back to heavy-duty exercise, albeit at a reduced maximum effort; after 18 months, I even completed a 450km charity ride. One drawback of having an ICD is an automatic 6-month driving ban, so it was with great joy that I finally got my driving license returned and my freedom back after seven months. Only at this point did I feel that my life was anywhere near back on track.
Except for hospital follow-up checks, everything else on my list of questions was readily sorted. It was only after 21 months that my cardiologist effectively signed me off.
So where am I now?
I live my life pretty much as before; however, the S-ICD bulge in my chest is a constant reminder of my SCA, and I know that in most of my parallel universes, I would no longer be here. Having said that, I believe my family and myself are in a good place mentally, and we openly talk about our experiences with each other and as part of the charity activities that now form a large part of our new lives.
Doing things for the first time again, such as driving or going through airport security, can bring on mild levels of anxiety. Similarly, I need to shout, “I’m okay!” if I make any sudden loud noises, as this is a trigger for my wife.
When you come through an SCA, it is normal for you to have lots of questions, and these will be personal to you. I hope that this blog shows that with the right support, most of these questions will get resolved over time. My life has settled into its ‘new normal’, and if you are a recent survivor, I hope you find encouragement from my recovery.
I have worked in IT for over 30 years at BT, but my life took a turn in February 2021 when I experienced a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Since then, I have decided to make a change, and I currently work for Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK).
Outside of work, I have become deeply passionate about improving the lives of SCA survivors and bystanders affected by CPR. I volunteer with Suffolk Accident Rescue Service and East Anglian Air Ambulance to deliver talks and CPR training sessions in my free time. I have recently collaborated with Resuscitation Council UK on their SCA Right to Recovery initiative.
2 thoughts on “A Life Two Years On”
Lovely positive read Dave
Thanks Bridget. I view this as the start to a different life.