I HAVE a story to relate in conjunction with World Heart Day, which is today. For the record, I am 52 years young.
It was late November 2021 and I was on my usual morning run when I felt a tight squeeze in my chest. I had been running since 2015 and never experienced it before.
I stopped running as I was getting breathless from the discomfort. I walked for a while and then continued running when the tightness subsided, but the discomfort persisted. I wondered if my heart was causing the problem, but brushed the thought aside. I ran the next day and the following day with the same discomfort.
After a week of running with the chest discomfort, I rested, thinking it would go away. It didn’t. I went to work on Dec 7. I didn’t run that day, but as soon as I reached my office, I felt different. I knew it was a sign that something was terribly wrong, so I rushed to the emergency department of a government hospital.
After describing my symptoms to the staff at the counter, I was immediately administered an ECG (electrocardiogram), put on medication and monitored. I was informed that I had suffered a mild heart attack (that different feeling) and was scheduled for an angioplasty at about 11pm that night.
During the procedure, two blocked arteries were identified. One was a 95% blockage on the left artery and the other was a 70% blockage on the right one. I was awake and alert while the doctor performed the angioplasty, which took about one and a half hours. I was discharged the next day.
Following the doctor’s advice, I did not exercise for one month. After this, I started walking and three months later, I was running again.
I used to run marathons before, and I’m now preparing for one next month. But I will not be running full or half marathons anymore, just the 10km runs. I need to start enjoying my runs and not get stressed out. This usually happens when I am running full and half marathons.
The most important lesson that I learnt from this experience, and I am sure I am not alone, is never to ignore the symptoms. I have been given a second chance at life. Had I ignored the symptoms, I would definitely not be writing this letter.
A last word of advice – try not to get stressed up when confronted with a problem. If you cannot solve it, someone else will, or it will resolve by itself. Live and think about today; tomorrow will always come. The question is, will we still be around?