Paul talks with consultant cardiologist Dr Tom Keeble, about building a better future for cardiac arrest survival with a number of recent projects he has been working on: the Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK #NotAlone event, the International Task force for Cardiac Arrest Recovery (ITCAR), Heartwize Essex and the forthcoming video #WhatJackDid aimed at encouraging teenagers to engage in CPR.
I always ponder my survival at this time of year but my thoughts are a little different this year.
Of course my thanks go out to my saviour and the ambulance crew who helped me be here today, and, to my family, friends and SCA UK for their continuing support.
My recovery would have been different without them. This year though I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come and how much my event has changed my life!
In the first few months of my recovery I was a wretched, weak and sorry mess. I don’t think I could of been any lower or sore and in pain than in those early days.
I couldn’t see the woods for the trees and didn’t really believe anyone when they told me that things would get better and I would feel normal again and that I would for the most part be able to ignore the life saving little box placed in my chest ‘just in case’.
I didn’t believe them when they said I would forget all the pain and heartache and the tears of frustration and loneliness that recovery can bring.
Now, I have forgotten most of it and am no longer lonely, but, some of those things will never leave me and that’s fine.
It has taken many months and endless talks to myself (and counsellors) to stay positive and not to turn down invitations to things despite how scary they may be.
I got on a train to Birmingham by myself (something I would NEVER have done pre-SCA) for a meet-up of other survivors I didn’t know other than by social media interaction. I was very nervous, however, I did it and the emotion and elation I felt on my way home was immeasurable, both at my achievement and meeting other survivors and their loved ones. At that point I realised I was changing into a better and stronger person.
There have been many bumps in the road along the way but I’m so glad I faced them head on. Meeting other survivors has both inspired and humbled me and I’ve made some incredible friends. We have laughed, cried, supported and taken the mickey out of one another and it’s a different kind of relationship than that of my pre-SCA friends. It’s a comradeship with an unspoken understanding of another who ‘gets it’!
We’ve all been on a weird journey but now I can say I’m a Sunday pootler on that road and in a happy place. I’ve learned to live along side the new me and I like her. I’m a better mother, daughter, sister, auntie and friend and whilst I hate the fact this happened to me, I really am ok with it! I’m fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been and I have a new zest for life.
Before my SCA I was just happy pootling along with the rest in the rat race of life.
I didn’t know I needed the new me.
So to all of you, just remember things will and do get better.
Go out there and enjoy smelling the rain, hearing the birds, laughing at children’s giggles.
Hug those you love a little harder and take the time to listen.
Don’t say no (as far as you can) to an invite, have that extra drink or biscuit and laugh as often as you can.