Happy Heart Attack Anniversary…Almost

Mugging at Kate!

English: Skull and crossbones
English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As it gets closer to the one year anniversary of my heart attack and near-death experience, I find myself  in that state of cautious anticipation at night before sleep. The one where any little twinge in the chest or forearms – it was agonising pain in my forearms and hands that presaged my heart attack – and I will lie awake for hours waiting to see if I am going to have a revisitation to the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.

Another anniversary date is also approaching, it has almost been a year since my blog was Freshly Pressed. An event that occurred just four days before my heart attack. Interestingly enough, that anniversary has none of the wariness and fear that the other one has.

I was lucky in a sense that after my two emergency surgeries – that for the record, kicked my ass – I was in such an exhausted and doped up state that I had no problem sleeping. I was so messed up that I found that one night I had squashed a good sized spider to death by apparently rolling over it. When I found the poor critter’s carcass the next morning my only reaction was to dispose of its body.

The first few months of my recuperation are a blur of pain from a lower back injury sustained at my previous job as a prison officer and the subsequent steroidal injections just a week before the heart attack that made the pain worse instead of alleviating it.  Shambling to the bus stop that is only a 20 second walk from my front door, stopping no less than seven times, heart pounding and head swimming from the pain.

The slow process of increasing my walking distance each day and feeling like I had a sign on my back that said,  “Mug Me I am Helpless.”  During that time period I was given an early retirement from my job with Her Majesty’s Prison Service and was in financial dire straits. It was not a great time, but apart from the stresses from my life changing event, I was shocked to find out just how close to death I’d actually been.

I had come to grips with that a little while back. I was sleeping like a baby at night and had increased my “usual” sleeping time from four hours a night to eight and over. It is only recently that I have had problems dropping off and fighting the panic that these unknown twinges evoke.

In my old job, the mental health folks who dealt with the prisoners (aka psychiatric types) used to talk about triggers and anniversary dates as being a normal thing for people to experience and in-turn, these two things affected how people reacted to things. While not a prisoner, I’m finding myself back to the time when the terror of an unknown pain could keep me up for hours.

This trigger will pass, just as surely as the anniversary of my heart attack will come and then go.  While time rushes on in the greater scheme of things, the minutiae of our lives trudges along with all the intensity of a turtle trudging resolutely against that fast footed rabbit that is our life. I, like many others have to fight against that irrational fear of the grim reaper calling again so soon.

For as resilient as the human body is, like the old Timex adverts it can take a licking and keep on ticking, we all have a limited warranty in the area of the body’s  almost magical ability to heal itself. As we get older, besides the obligatory aches and pains that increased age brings about, the parts of our machine get worn, old defects that we never noticed before suddenly leap to the forefront screaming, “Look at me!”

As we all reach that age where our mortality is shoved, sometimes brutally, in our face we have to accept that, like everyone else in the world, we owe a death. It is a debt that we all must pay, as Katherine Hepburn used to say, “Of course life is hard, it kills you.” But I have not yet reached the age where I can look back over my life and say, “I’m okay with dying right now, I’ve lead a good life and won’t complain when it is time to pay my dues for a life lived.”

I do not think that such an age exists for the average person. I believe that none of us are ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. Most people fight the grim reaper with whatever strength they have left. Some, who have been in pain for so long that they welcome it, are of a different ilk. Suffering for any amount of time is tiring and soul destroying. I thank God, or whoever is in charge, that I have not had unbelievable pain for longer than the 5 hours  or so that I was conscious before my heart surgery.

I admit that it is only at night, in the quiet hours, that I’ve had a revisitation of the alarm that came once I’d gotten out of my exhausted stage of post surgery. The daytime is full of more things to do than I have time for and that is a blessing. This anniversary heart attack trigger, my almost one year anniversary, will pass soon enough. Until then, I’ll lay in bed at night listening to my body and sweating every time something feels “wrong” in the areas that my body remembers from the heart attack.   During the day, I’ll keep writing the articles for the paper, doing posts for my blog and trying to fit everything else in around the two.

Happy heart attack ‘almost’ anniversary to me.

Thumbs up!
Still here and damned glad! Self-photo

Michael Smith

United kingdom

22 August, 2013

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

10 thoughts on “Happy Heart Attack Anniversary…Almost”

  1. Great post, and congrats on your speedy recovery! 😀
    And of course, happy anniversary 😉

    I’ve known two people who’ve suffered to the point where they wanted to die, unfortunately they were my Grandma and her sister…here’s hoping it doesn’t run in the family, eh!! My great aunt is still suffering away at 94 in a home, she has breast cancer and recently had a stroke, the doctors can’t believe she’s still going! She’s said she just wants it to end now though. I can’t imagine ever being in that position :/ I actually think it’s cruel that we let people suffer when they don’t want to anymore, but there we go!
    Anyway I digress 😛 Your post got me thinking about all sorts of death related things haha I’m ready for the grim reaper whenever he chooses to sneak up on me, as long as there’s beer in hell 😉

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    1. LMAO The only problem with beer in hell, it that it wouldn’t be warm, it would be hot!! LOL Thanks mate! Yeah suffering is something I’m not very good at, pain makes me whimper all the way to the medicine cabinet! Sorry to hear about your great aunt. My grandmother lived to be 101 and mercifully it was, I believe, mostly pain free.

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      1. Yeah that is the only issue, I don’t like my beer warm…or boiling hot!! haha
        Lol well hopefully there won’t be any more ridiculously painful situations coming your way again!!
        The thought is always worse, I cope with pain quite well…although apart from doing my back in a few times I’ve never really injured myself properly! No broken bones yet…touch wood 😉
        Thanks 🙂 I haven’t seen her for years, not particularly close to that part of the family!
        Weirdly my great aunt’s own aunt (by marriage) is still alive and well at 104! I’m seriously hoping this living to nearly 100 thing doesn’t pass through the family to me, I don’t think I can cope with that business!! 😛

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      2. LOL I myself would not mind if I made it to 101, but not like my poor gran, she suffered from low blood pressure issues and as a result she displayed dementia or Alzheimer’s type of symptoms. Not fun for her or the family members who had daily contact with her in the home. But then, I’ve always wanted to live a very, very long time! LOL

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      3. It’s almost worse to see people ‘go in the mind’, as it were, than to go physically.
        I’ve never wanted to live long! I suppose it’d depend on how I was physically but I can’t bear the thought of getting past about 80! Not that I’m wishing my life away or anything! haha I’m quite comfortable with death, the thought of walking out in front of a bus tomorrow and dying doesn’t phase me at all…bring it on!! Whatever fate has in store for me, I’m ready for it 😉

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      4. Good for you. Most people spend their lives terrified at the thought of dying. I will admit that I was never too comfortable with the suddenness of it. But as I get older, I’ve at least learned to accept the inevitability of it, except in the wee hours of the morning when I get that sudden twinge! LOL

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      5. I used to have a paralysing fear of dying old and alone when I was just a kid, no idea why…used to have sleepless nights about it and everything!! haha, doesn’t bother me now..I’m more curious about it, that and it’s inevitable! I might think differently if I do actually have a near death experience though!
        God that must be nerve wracking! I can only imagine how on-edge it must make you feel!

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