Before December 2018 I was completely well, with no history of any major issues. But by the end of 2018, I thought I had developed a chest infection which soon led to symptoms of Norovirus. In the space of 4 weeks the GP had prescribed me three lots of antibiotics but nothing was helping. By mid-January, my breathing had got so shallow, I could barely walk without being out of breath and the vomiting had not relented. I went to A and E and after a few tests, I was asked if I had ever had a heart attack or ever seen a heart specialist. I was terrified. They rushed me to CCU and the next day they informed me that I was in heart failure and I would need to start taking beta blockers and an ace inhibitor drug but that after another month or so off work, I should be O.K. It was a shock, but I was alive and they were hopeful that with the medication I would be able to lead a relatively ‘normal’ life.
Sadly, this wasn’t to be. I crashed on the medication and went downhill almost instantly. Luckily the hospital were already in contact with a specialist heart and lung centre who advised them to put me on to an IV isotope drug and to transfer me to this specialist hospital. I had my first journey in an ambulance, blue lighted the whole way and was settled in to my new home.
I had every test possible to determine what had gone wrong. It came down to Dilated Cardiomyopathy – my heart was enlarged, scarred and barely pumping enough blood around my body. My consultants concluded that it must have happened because of a viral infection; even though there was no way to prove this as the biopsy showed that there was no sign of infection anymore, it was the only option left.
After having an ICD fitted and a week and half on tablet medication at home, it was decided that this was not the way forward. I got increasingly sicker really quickly when not in hospital and they pulled me back in to see what other methods could be used to ‘fix’ me.
I was officially placed on the urgent heart transplant list. This was it, the only answer to keep me alive; to let me live, someone else had to die. Of course, this was a lot to get our heads around. I had been completely well 4 months ago. And now I was dying. I had the best support from friends and family and they are what kept me going throughout this ordeal but I obviously would not still be here, writing this, living my life, without the person who was selfless enough to donate their organs when their time came.
Six weeks after being listed, I received the greatest gift I will ever receive in my entire life. My recovery has been slow and steady and 16 months later I’m feeling fantastic and enjoying the time I have.
I will be forever grateful for this second chance at life.