Short stories, Travel and Health Information
“You know, Doc” observed one of my patients to me recently “the best thing that could have happened to me was my getting that heart attack last year”.
You may think that this has to be a very strange observation coming from a man who nearly died from this heart attack – a man who at this time last year was in a coronary care unit connected to ECG monitors with an intravenous drip going into his arm and an oxygen mask over his face!
But if truth be told, this patient cheated death on that occasion thanks to the efforts of the experienced cardiologist, the dedicated nurses and a couple of expensive stents inserted into his heart arteries. His near miss with death jolted him into the stark realisation that he needed to actively change his lifestyle and habits if he was to prevent himself getting a second and possibly fatal heart attack.
Research has shown that we men are very bad at looking after our health. We may do a great job of managing a business or organization, or efficiently looking after other people’s financial or legal or medical problems – but left to ourselves we are very bad at managing our own health and looking after our physical and mental well-being.
My patient was a successful business executive who worked very long hours. He was well rewarded by the company he worked for with a handsome salary and various well deserved perks. Unfortunately, because he was so committed to his job he had very little time to relax, and when he came home in the evenings he was so exhausted that his only relaxation was having a few drinks and a good meal. Needless to say, the fit young schoolboy whose prowess on the cricket field won him a job in a prestigious mercantile firm soon stopped playing any sports, took to smoking because it helped him (as he used to tell me) to relax – and over the years he developed a waistline bigger than his chest.
He was so busy creating wealth for his company that he had no time to get a medical check-up done – and so never realised that his blood pressure was slowly and surely increasing to dangerous levels.
After he suffered his heart attack and underwent stenting, he realised that only he (and he alone) could improve the state of his fragile heart. He made a decision to drastically change his physical state. He quit smoking and went on a diet, losing no less than 25 kilograms of his “pre-heart attack” weight. He started exercising regularly to build up his fitness – not getting back on the sports field but walking briskly for half to one hour every day.
With the help of his wife he changed his diet and reduced his alcohol – not such a difficult task when he reminded himself that the alternative to this drastic change was a second admission into the coronary care unit, with the distinct possibility that his second stay in the hospital may not result in the same outcome as the first.
He now keeps his weight and blood pressure under control, no longer smokes and takes his medications religiously. As he himself acknowledges, he feels much healthier.
And all this has come to pass as a result of his “Lucky Heart Attack”!