Dave's Progress. Chapter 95: Taking the Pace.

So, there I was, sitting in one of the cardiology wards at the North Staffs General Hospital, stripped down to my underpants and wearing one of those NHS gowns which give the whole world a wonderful view of one's, erm, rear end. As I sat there, I began to wonder just why I had ended up where I was, waiting, along with other heart patients (who, by the way, were all invariably older than me) to have a pacemaker fitted into my heart. OK, so I have to acknowledge that I have had a problem with my heart since birth; what is known as a heart block, which has resulted in me having an unusually low heart-rate and an occasional defect in the way my heart beats. Despite this, though, I had had none of the usual problems that appear to go along with such heart defects, such as blacking out or breathlessness. I had also started exercising and was losing weight (around four stones in all) and was feeling generally healthier than I had done in a long time. So, why, I wondered, had my cardiologist chosen now as the time to fit me with a pacemaker?
Well, as the wonderful and omnipotent doctor who was to perform my operation explained, in his erudite opinion, all those with a heart block should have a pacemaker fitted as they begin to get a little older. Perhaps it was a preventative rather than curative measure, then, as it would reduce my risk of having either a heart attack or black-outs in the future. My weight, he explained, could also be a problem, as although I have lost a great deal of the old adipose tissue, I am still, although in a reduced way, what they call, obese. Indeed, I remember my GP telling me that it was my weight which was putting my little ticker "under some strain" and it also resulted in me having high blood pressure, for which I now have to take medication.
So, in some convoluted way, this goes back to one of the side-effects of my anti-psychotic medication, which is to induce weight gain. I have mentioned many times in these pages my resentment of the side-effects caused by my medication, and indeed, in some quarters, it seems that people are beginning to wonder whether modern anti-psychotics really are any better than their old-fashioned counterparts. Those with diagnoses of psychotic illness still tend to die at a much younger age than those who have apparently good mental health, on average ten years younger and, although we have our own sedentary life-styles and bad habits to blame for this, perhaps it is that side-effects of medication can further complicate matters.
I have to say that the main reason for my pacemaker being fitted, though, was my heart block, but, it is being realised by many in the mental health profession that the physical health of their patients is also important. Recently I attended a conference, at which me and another member of the Pathways Group spoke, called "Physical Health Matters in Mental Health". The conference served as a salutary reminder to professionals that they should not neglect the physical health of their service users, as it can be that the effects of their illnesses, bad habits such as smoking, and as I have mentioned, side-effects of medication, often endanger the physical well being of those diagnosed with such conditions. Also, it is a recognised element of the discrimination faced by those with mental ill health that their physical health can sometimes be overlooked in their treatment.
So, now it is that, having gone through a period of mental ill health where I hardly saw my GP at all, I now see him on a regular basis, at his request. I am, overall then, pleased by this interest and intervention, and I am, perhaps, after all, pleased that I have had my pacemaker fitted now to avoid any further complications in the future. It seems, now, that I will be able to take the pace of my more active life-style and my very real fears about the state of my physical health have been allayed.
That's all for now from your normal, average, delusional and paranoid man.       


bazza said…
Hi David. My father had a pacemaker fitted and lived with it without problems for very many years after.
I recall reading that Alan Ball, a member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team, had an unaturally slow heartbeat. Apparently this gave him the ability to run and run without getting tired, which was characteristic of his style of play.
As for your other point; I think one's quality of life is much more important than the quantity of it.
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Generally speaking, this is a rather positive and hopeful posting in regards to your future well being.
I'm sure you looked rather stunning, if that's the word, in your NHS gown.
Still, time to look forward to an even healthier you. Both physically and mentally.
Very good wishes and good health thoughts, your way, Gary.
David said…
Dear bazza,
I, too, hope to live with my pacemaker without problems for very many years! Hopefully, too, it will give me a better quality, as well as quantity, of life.
Thanks for your comment, bazza.
Yours with All the Best,
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for your kind and encouraging (as always) remarks.
Here's to a healthy and happy future for the both of us!
Yours with Very Best Wishes,

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