It’s now nearly six weeks since my heart attack. I’d like to say that it has been a time of reading, reflection and recharging the batteries but it hasn’t. I’ve been able to go back to doing some of the normal stuff of life but with much less energy than I’d expect to have; generally after a couple of hours working on something I’m whacked out. Even so, the experience has started to shape me in unexpected ways.
1. In those first few hours in A&E, when I didn’t know how serious or not the heart attack was, I wondered if I would have another attack and die. Interestingly the idea of dying didn’t worry me, the thing which got to me was the fact that my kids are not yet independent adults. Everything else is less important.
2. Learning to be a patient and to live, however temporarily, with your limitations because your body will not do everything you want or expect requires a whole new mindset. Little pleasures become bigger things.
3. I am mortal and I’m going to die. Our society seems to collude with the idea that we will go on forever. Actually, the realisation that our hold on life is tenuous might make us pay more attention to the things that matter now and worry less about things that don’t.
4. There is no explanation for ‘why’. I’m fairly fit and healthy, I cycle, I eat my fruit and veg, I’m not overweight, my blood pressure is good and have no family history of heart disease. Yet it has happened to me and the Dr’s seem to have no answer to the ‘why me’ question other than ‘it just happens’. No one chooses to be ill, whether it is heart disease, cancer or depression. And people saying, “No, surely not you, you are far too young” isn’t quite the encouragement it’s probably meant to be.
5. I’m not sure I want to return to work. I don’t have a pension fund large enough to stop working (will I ever?), there are parts of my role that I love doing and I’m not planning on stopping just yet. But the last few months have raised the question, what do I want to do for the rest of my working life? And what’s God’s call in this?