In February 2017, my wife, Zoe, our 13-month-old daughter, Frankie-Louisa, and I were visiting a friend in Lincoln. We had a nice dinner and I had one beer. Then, we went to bed. I woke up at 3am to go to the toilet but instead collapsed on the floor. The next thing I remember was that I was on the floor with Zoe besides me asking what had happened. It wasn’t until three days later that I decided to visit the A & E in Southampton as I had whacked my head on the floor and had a nasty bump due to it. The doctors advised it was important to check it out as I could have suffered internal head injuries. Thankfully, there was no memory loss, but I had suffered a concussion. The doctors also decided to do an ECG and it was only then that I coincidentally found out that I had suffered a cardiac arrest that night! Totally unbeknown and unpredicted!
It didn’t occur to me that I could have suffered a cardiac arrest as I was diagnosed with LQT almost 13 years back. My license was revoked and I wasn’t allowed to drive for 6 months. However, I am glad it didn’t happen when I was alone with my daughter or when I was driving. Had it not been a shock from my ICD, I wonder what would have happened that night. It was only in 2011 that the doctors and I decided to re-insert the ICD in my body to improve the quality of my life. Although it is on the left side now, almost under my armpit, it is more comfortable than the ones I had before and has given me my life back. You might like to read my story of how my ICD made me uncomfortable when it was initially inserted: http://www.myheart.org.uk/lucy-patey/
Although having a diagnosis has changed my life, I would say I still try to stay as positive as possible. I used to be very sporty and played hockey and loved horse riding, but now that I can’t do much sport, I still love watching it. I did have a rough couple of years but I pulled myself up and decided to move ahead in life. After my diagnosis, I moved to Dubai and was the manager of a Kids Club at a posh hotel. Whilst there, I suffered a nasty tachycardia but the doctors took really good care of me. In 2013, I decided to return to England and settle in the New Forest. It was a homecoming as I grew up in this beautiful place. My love for dogs prompted me to open a dog grooming business. I also grew busy with my lovely daughter who was born last year. Although I may not be as sporty now, my child and dog grooming business ensure that I get enough exercise. I do get tired but take breaks as I have stopped being a hero and started listening to my body. There are tough days but a hug from my wife puts me back on track.
I have recently got my license back now after a letter from my cardiologist explaining that I was fit to drive again. I understand I have LQT but I don’t let it ruin my life. I treat life as a glass half full. I am still coming to terms with my recent cardiac arrest but decided to raise awareness and to comfort others by sharing my story. My wife, Zoe, is also fundraising for CRY to raise awareness for young people who have a life threatening condition; and to raise funds for promoting screening programmes and medical research into these conditions: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zoepatey.
I would just advise to the newly diagnosed people not to read too much from the internet and stress yourselves out. Instead, speak to someone from CRY as they offer help, support and information, because the technical words on the internet can be quite intimidating.