I knew this time had been coming since I was a teenager. About the age of thirteen I left the physical all boys my age received with something that no one else did, a letter to my parents. Of course I didn’t wait until I got home with it, I opened it soon after and read it. I couldn’t bear the fact that I got a note and no one else did.
That note signalled a change of a lot of things in my life. It told my parents I had a heart problem and was referring me to a specialist.
Thirty-one years later, or thereabouts, and another referral has arrived. This time it’s to a surgeon to start the process for the heart valve replacement. Suddenly, it’s all very real and happening very quickly.
When I was younger I never really thought the day would come, and if it did it would be forty years from then, or so I thought. I didn’t listen to the overly cautious advice from the doctors, and instead I’ve partied, taken up mountain biking including a 24 hour race and the Scottish Cycling Series, taken up weight lifting, and more recently started running 5k and 10k trail runs.
I guess I really did think I could just keep going. Now though, those thoughts, and all those years, have disappeared.
My yearly check-ups stopped while I entered a three year research study which looked into using MRI scanning to determine when heart operations should take place. I thought I was getting some extra MRIs, giving some of my time back, and generally helping out. However the doctor conducting the study realised that I was a prime candidate.
Returning to my yearly check-ups, the consultants agreed and suggested they discuss my case at a weekly meeting. Eight days later the lead consultant had written to me and recommended referral to the surgery team. A week and a few days after that I’d been in for a CT scan to check everything else around my heart, preparing to meet the surgeon. Now I’m waiting for that meeting.
Before the end of the year, I could have had open heart surgery, with a mechanical valve fitted, and could well be up and running again, quite literally.