Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

What it's like to have a heart attack by my dad.

Today I welcome a very special man in my life to my blog...my Dad. Words can not describe how proud I am of him for sharing his experience with a Heart Attack. I am SO grateful that we still have Dad with us to be able to share his story. Heart Attacks are scary, not only for the person who experiences the Heart Attack, but also for those closest to them. Seeing my Dad, the strong man known as 10 men, lying lifeless in emergency was an image I'll never forget. So here's to creating awareness about Heart Attacks and lifestyle changes that you can be making now, to prevent Heart Attacks in the future.

Take it away Dad.

My cheeky Dad in the middle!

How old were you when you had your heart attack?

I had my first heart attack when I was 50 on the 1st of December 2011 and my second one when I was 51 on the 12th of May 2012.

Dad in hospital after this Heart Attack.
How did you know that you were having a Heart Attack?

I was working down at the beach shifting heavy rocks and had stopped for morning smoko. It felt like I had I indigestion. My arms and eye lids felt very heavy. I went pale and starting feeling sweaty. I got taken into the hospital where they performed blood tests and determined that I had had a minor heart attack.

My second heart attack was much more severe. We had been shopping and had MacDonalds for lunch. We returned to my daughters house and I started helping her fiance to prepare the boat to go out fishing. I was feeling relaxed and excited about going fishing. All of a sudden I started vomiting and then the diarrhea came. I thought I might have gotten food poisoning from the maccas.

I broke into a cold sweat and thought that I had strained myself when I was vomiting. When I continued to vomit the straining feeling didn't go away. My wife asked me how my chest was feeling and that's when I realised that it was quite tight.

We then knew that we had to get me to hospital. Once I got to the hospital, they placed a spray under my tongue to relieve the pain. This worked straight away. I was hooked up to all sorts of machines and I had my blood taken. Doctors and nurses were going around everywhere.

They established that I had had a severe Heart Attack and that I would have to take the Flying Doctors Service to Adelaide for further checks and observations. Once I was stabilised, they flew me out to Adelaide that night.

I spent 6 days in hospital having all sorts of tests. I saw all sorts of specialists ranging from a Dietitian to a counsellor to help me give up smoking to Cardiologists, Pharmacists, nurses, doctors and many more I'm sure.

I was given lots of information on the type of diet I should follow to reduce the risk of having another Heart Attack.

They told me that a piece of plaque had broken off within my arteries to my heart and that's what caused my Heart Attack. Everyone has plaque in their arteries but mine had built up because I was a smoker, had an average diet and rarely ever exercised.

The doctors and staff were very good and answered my questions and sent us off home with appointments booked with Cardiologists and Rehab nurses.

Sexy Dad.
I was constantly told that I should've been in the morgue with the size of the heart attack that I experienced. They didn't beat around the bush with how severe it was.

It's been a busy 15 weeks off of work going between local doctors and specialists. I am also having regular blood tests and they are constantly changing my medication to get the balance right. I am now walking regularly and have given up smoking. I can still only walk as anything else would place too much pressure on my heart at this stage.

What advice can you give to others?

Stop smoking. Watch what you eat. Try and cut out sugars, salts and the bad fats. Exercise everyday for at least 20 minutes and stress less. It's not worth your health.

Have you made changes to your lifestyle since your Heart Attack?

Yes. I have stopped smoking. I didn't do this after my first Heart Attack. The second one was a massive wake up call that I had to make lifestyle changes if I wanted to live.

I have included light exercise into my daily routine. You can't do a lot of exercise for awhile after a major Heart Attack so I just go on small walks. I am gradually building up my exercise regime over time with advice from my rehab nurse.

I have changed my diet. We were given lots of advice and recipes on what sort of diet I should follow. I try to stick to it. It's very hard. You have to constantly check food labels for the sugar and sodium content and fat levels on everything.

I am starting to eat smaller meals with snacks in between.

I have my good days and my bad. Whey they are adjusting my medication I sometimes feel quite ill and therefore I have days where I don't venture out of the house.

I always carry my mobile phone and tongue spray with me just in case.

I am a stressed person so learning to stress less has been very difficult and going back to work will be a challenge I'm sure.

Mum and Dad sorting out Dads new medication.

What have you learnt from your heart attacks?

That life is precious and family is precious. I knew that my lifestyle had to change if I wanted to be around to see my grandchildren grow up.


For more information on Heart Attacks and how to prevent them, please visit the Heart Foundation. 

Do you know of someone who has suffered from a Heart Attack? Would advice would you give to other people?


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