Listen to your body, it might just save your life

Michael shares his personal story and how Tridan helped him through a difficult time

One of the many problems we face as we move into middle age is accepting that we can no longer do all the things that during our younger days were once second nature.  We start to notice that chasing around a sports arena, eating and drinking whatever we want and burning the candle at both ends are not only no longer possible but have also taken their toll on us. 

Some eighteen months ago, this started to become all too apparent to myself.  Whilst on holiday in Greece I began to struggle with swimming and walking uphill, even on the slightest incline.  As I have always been active I did the manly thing and put it down to the heat or, maybe, just a slight chest infection.  Upon returning to the UK however the symptoms continued.  Whilst a trip to the local supermarket may be classed as stressful it certainly should not result in a tight throat, aching chest and breathlessness.  At this point I decided to listen to my body and take myself to the doctors.  Within five minutes, my doctor had given me a prognosis of angina, at forty-nine years old.   

As I was active, not classed as overweight, not diabetic and a non-smoker the most likely cause was put down to a probable family history that I was unaware of. 

Still in disbelief I followed the doctor’s advice and took myself to hospital for a series of blood tests, an ECG, echo cardiogram and finally an angiogram.  All along I had suspected that, in all likelihood, the worst outcome would result in my having to take a few pills for a period of time.  Much to my shock following the angiogram I was told that the only option would be to have a triple heart bypass operation, sooner rather than later.  It turned out that one of my arteries was 100% blocked and two others were at 70%.  “I guess that explains the breathing problems” was my initial response. 

Within 8 weeks of the complete diagnosis the fantastic team at Papworth performed not a triple but a quadruple bypass (“we had some vein left over so thought we might as well do the other artery as well”). 

Amongst the many things that anyone must contend with during a period of ill health is the worry of how their employer will react.  Although we would all like to think that a caring and understanding approach would be a given this is, unfortunately, not always the case.  From the very first discussion with my MD and all the way through the process the reaction I received from everybody at Tridan was always positive and exceptionally supportive.  The support ranged from my immediate colleagues taking on my work whilst away from the office to other members of the team going out of their way to call me during the recuperation period.  This reaction not only helped immensely during a difficult time but almost certainly contributed to the rapid recovery which I enjoyed. 

Looking back, I can now see that the signs were there previously.  Getting tired quickly and being slightly out of breath being the major ones.  The lesson I have learned loud and clear from this episode is to listen to your body.  In our everyday, stress filled lives it can become all too easy to just ignore things and carry on as usual.  We all must spread ourselves more thinly across different roles, we must meet deadlines, we must strive for continual improvement.   

Yes, these things matter, but so do we. My advice, at any age, would be to listen to your body as you never know, it might just save your life one day.  It certainly saved mine.    

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