Having a Heart Condition by Guy Heywood

Hey myheart members! I decided to write a piece about having a ‘Heart Condition’ which will hopefully help to prove that there’s nothing stopping you from feeling good ?
What does it mean to have a heart condition?

Does it mean I am unable to live life how I want? In a word, no. Does it mean I have to make sacrifices and resent those sacrifices, again no. Do I feel debilitated and as though I suffer from ‘a condition’, NO!
So what’s going on then and do I have a ‘condition’ or a ‘disease’?

In brief, I was born with a defective heart valve. My aortic valve was bicuspid, which meant it was missing a part, and was gradually self destructing, until, when I got to 29, it all but failed and within a few months I had open heart surgery to replace the defective valve. At the time I was engulfed in a whirlwind of appointments and seemed to spend my time listening to specialists in the cardiology world telling me that I needed more tests before a letter would arrive in the post with a date booked in.

I got used to looking at the doctors and nurses and seeing a vacant stare, as if they were holding something back from me. They weren’t really looking at me, or rather they were looking through me and I could tell they were hiding something. When the day came and I met with the surgeon, who was frank and quite casual about the matter, it actually came as a relief to finally know what was going on.

This relief was quickly followed by a sense of shock that I had never felt before. I was lucky to be alive and wouldn’t last much longer unless they operated. In the surgeon’s own words ‘you know how you hear of young people just dropping down dead? Well this is why,’ and I was left to go and prepare for the operation.

This news would be a shock at any age and having just turned 30 I kind of thought life was well and truly ahead of me. It wasn’t that I thought I was invincible; it was just something that had never occurred to me. I was fit, healthy and I had competed in a boxing match a few months ago…what was going on?
As mentioned, I felt relief more than anything else as all of a sudden everything made sense. This was why I was always tired, felt out of breath on occasion and so on. I was pleased to have an answer to a question I didn’t even know needed asking at the time; why do I feel so unwell all the time? Here was my answer.

Despite the diagnosis and following shock I felt like a small weight had been lifted. I was still very unwell and going through the motions of preparing for surgery but at least I could take comfort in the fact I knew what was going on and why I felt the way I did. This brought a great sense of calm over me. I was glad to finally know and happy I paid attention to the signs my body was giving me. It’s best to check things out, you never know and either way it’ll put your mind at rest.

So here I am now with a new tissue valve replacement, by new I mean new to me, it’s from another animal and often joke that I am now part cow. After I had recovered, I realised that I felt the best I had ever felt in my life, as for the first time I had a fully functioning heart!

Any news to do with your health may appear to be all encompassing and may even seem to signify the end of what you know. However, it’s down to you to interpret and deal with it the best way you can. We all possess a wonderful ability to change, adapt, learn and improve from any situation and we can always do this. In every sense what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

So if you have been given news of a heart condition and feel that it’s a weight or a burden and that life as you know it won’t be the same again, and it’s not fair, I would encourage you to remember that it’s up to you how you view the situation. Things could turn out, and often do, better than before. None of us know what is coming and how one event will lead onto the next, but they do. What we can do is take ourselves forward with life and embrace who we are.

I should have died three years ago and been one of those statistics; a young person dropping down dead suddenly. Instead I went skydiving last week. It’s up to you.

G Heywood Skydive 4

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  • G Heywood Skydive 4