Friday, December 14, 2018

In the beat of a heart

Do you wake up one day and realise that age has caught up with you? When does that happen? First wrinkle? First grandchild? Bus pass? Listening to Radio Four? Buying sensible slippers? Walking into a room and forgetting why you went there? Recalling the first time you heard the Beatles?  

Or is it the first indication that your heart might not be as healthy as you thought. And the realisation that it only has so many beats to give in a lifetime. And you still have a house full of books to read.   No heartbeat used to be the legal sign of death, but as the heart is now stopped routinely for surgery, that had to be legally redefined as 'lack of brain stem function' etc. I should add that they do start the heart again after any surgery is complete.

So let's go back to Black Monday. A very odd day. A very stressful day.  Monday the 19th of November was so  stressful, that at  3 AM on Tuesday the 20th, I woke up with severe chest pain left sided, up left side of jaw, into left arm and thought, as you do, I am having a heart attack.  So what do all normal people do when they think they are having a coronary? I went downstairs to let the dog out. 

Then I took my blood pressure. 180/140…. A tad high when my norm is 100/70.

I sat on the sofa, watching my BP slowly fall, and then went back to bed. 


For the next few days I was absolutely exhausted, dizzy, with my heart bumping around like an angry rabbit in a box. So I thought I should trot of to see the doc. He’s a great guy, empathetic with the bubonic plague and leprosy that I suffer on a daily basis with my hyperactive imagination.  He was all jokey until he sounded my heart. Then he swore loudly (very loudly) and booked me in for blood tests, treadmills and ECGs and other exciting stuff all within a week.

 All this is free.

 Our NHS is fabulous.

So I was put on a treadmill and wired up. On and on it went, higher and higher, faster and faster.

The operator was talking to me about Christmas, Santa, children, parties, turkeys, her work, my work… and so it went on as I walked on and the speed got higher. By the end of ten minutes I was walking briskly up a gradient like the lower reaches of an Alp. I wasn’t unduly fatigued by any of this. The technician informed me I was operating at the cardiac function of a 25 year old male.

                                                      I have the heart of a twenty year old man.
                                                       He wants it back. 

 Mmmmm, carefully phased I thought as she pulled trace. After trace. After trace from the jaws of the machine.
Then I went into the cardiologist, (who looked as though she had been on a few visits to the cake shop), who looked puzzled. 'Very few hearts like yours around in the west of Scotland,' she said – we do have the worst incidence of heart disease in Europe. I don’t know what effect Brexit will have on that.  

My naughty cholesterol was 3 (!!), my good cholesterol was 1.6 (anything over 1 protects the heart), then my BP 110/70 and a low resting pulse that responds well to exercise stress.

So far so good.

Then she started to draw her pen along the trace.

Then she asked the big question- 'So what kicked off these ectopic beats?' She pointed at the trace, where the peaks and troughs changed from molehills to Everest and the Mariana trench.
That was when the technician mentioned work. And the memory of that Monday flooded back.

The computer system was down, central server failure somewhere in Manchester.  Cyber attack. Day Four of playing guess the patient,  treating with no histories. My mobile phone was stolen from the front desk at reception where it was sitting to show the twitter feed as the servers went back up one by one. 

You may have seen the Facebook post. ‘To whoever forced me to go into Glasgow on Back Friday to get a new phone, I hope that while Santa lands on your roof,  Rudolf shits down your chimney.’

Or something similarly festive.

                                                            Food good for cholesterol

Oh, and the small matter of the council chasing me for 50,000 pounds/ 63 000 dollars for not declaring a property that I rent out on my landlord’s registration. I pointed out that was because the property concerned was nothing to do with me. And sent them my registration and list of properties. ‘Yes,’ they said, ‘the property in question is not listed. That’s why you are being fined.’  So I said, ‘Why would I register a property I don’t own?' Even pointing out that this situation had happened before, with the same property in fact, and that there was another woman with the same name as me, unregistered landlord, and it turned out to be hers.

No, they said it is yours.

Legally, the council have the right to send sheriff officers into your house to lift goods ‘to the value of’. I had visions of the motorhome being driven away. And there is no day in court to explain yourself (or in my case, point out their error), just emails that say, ‘our records say you own the property’.  And I reply ‘Your records are wrong.’

I did suggest that they tried the land register in Edinburgh but they are not allowed to spend the £15 that costs, and go by their own register (the one I had not registered the property that I didn’t own on). Are you following this?

 The only thing (and this makes it worse) that stopped it was the fact I treat somebody very high up in the council, who said ‘just say you’re a good pal of mine’. 

It was sorted in 48 hours.

                                                          naughty foods

So I am being calm. While suing the arse off the council and using the money to sponsor a homeless donkey.

Others that don’t have a history of running marathons, or that don’t have my Dad’s genes, might have had something a little more life changing. And not in a good way.
I have heard of cardiac depression, a very serious tweak of the psyche that happens with heart issues.   I don’t have that but there is a distinct lack of ‘something’.  The cardiologist said to get back out exercising as that has always been the counterbalance to my stress, but the thought of my heart flinging out that extra beat is so daunting, that I can’t bring myself to run across the road in a hurricane.  Even standing in a queue in  a upmarket,  with the ever present  kid screaming in my ear, my heart suddenly went onto  Buddy Rich mode,  the middle section of Love For Sale I think it was.
And it goes into Buddy Holly mode, all together one.…. Heartbeat, why do you…. etc.

Caro Ramsay


  1. What a story! I'm so pleased you're feeling better - what a frightening experience. And I can't imagine your household being without the motor home!

  2. "So what do all normal people do when they think they are having a coronary? I went downstairs to let the dog out." LOL. LOL LOL LOL.

  3. I get this extra beat sometimes and don't feel great. I'm sure it's stress, but my doctor thinks it's white wine. I'm going for a second opinion. A third if necessary...

    1. You don't find your opinions in glasses, do you...???

  4. I hate to play doctor—at least in this instance—but did your doc say you were in atrial-fibrillation (a-fib for short)? That can be brought on by stress (or wine, Michael). I’d assume your doc would have raised it if you were, Oh One of Unique Heart.

  5. I've always said, "Oh, that Caro, WHAT a heart SHE'S got!" Just remember: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Or so I've heard.

  6. Oh Caro, what a scare! You know what to do! You will do it. You have MANY cheerleaders here to cheer you on. Sending love today and tomorrow and tomorrow and.....

  7. Wow, Caro, you're scaring all of us with your heart! Glad you managed to get things sorted with the Council. Once they get it into their heads that they are right, you have the devil's own job shifting them.

    And that last pic. Is it a very small bottle, or a very large glass...?