Wednesday 26 January 2011

Building Confidence after heart problems.

I was reading some of the posts on the British Heart Foundation website and realised I have not said too much about the after effects of heart trouble. One thing I needed was support in building my confidence back to get on with normal everyday life. I looked for books and found leaflets, I asked for help and found overworked underpaid NHS staff as helpful as they could be considering the circumstances, but most of their knowledge was designed for the elderly. After going to the cardiac rehabilitation clinic the first time, 2 weeks after my heart attack, and running rings around the instructor I soon realised there was not much help out there for the younger sufferers.

Part of this challenge is to drive me to build a lot of my confidence back. After a couple of very difficult years at work I really needed something I could succeed with in the next year, and thought combining fitness and the sport I love would be a good idea. 

A fellow windsurfer and friend inspired me to start this challenge, perhaps unintentionally as well. He was very generous and gave me my first speed board and sail, this was arranged before I had the heart attack and I had not seen him since my last session of 2009 on December 27th. When I did see him again I was thinking someone else would benefit more from the kit as I did not even know if I would windsurf again (but was dying to get out and felt fit enough, just a bit cold stood on the shore in north east winds last March). He gave me a bit more time to think about it, and I decided the best thing was to just go for it. Thank you Duncan.

Throughout my life I have been to countless professional training sessions and meetings where management speak was banded about, such as goal setting and SMART targets. You know the type of thing I am sure. For the first time in my life I found these bits of advice truly invaluable to get my confidence back. I started thinking about the challenge in April, pretty much after my first or second session back on the water. It gave me something to aim for, and train for. Also it gave me something to look forward to doing, a reason to try to get better and a step towards getting more confident again.

As the year progressed I had my ups and downs, and still do. There are times where I get a tiny little 'niggling' pain somewhere in my chest and it sends my brain into total confusion. I think because of the almost lack of pain while having the heart attack I worry with every little twinge, of course doing 100+ sit-ups per day, 100+ press-ups and other floor exercises I am bound to have 'twinges'. Everyday now the challenge is driving me to get fitter and complete my goals, both in terms of monies raised and miles sailed.

The hardest part of the recovery was the emotional part, and I personally think this is directly linked to the lack of confidence. As I have felt my confidence come back I have been in a lot better control of my emotions. Again there are still ups and downs, especially at the moment as it is the depths of winter and only a few weeks before it will be a year since it happened (don't really want to use the word anniversary). I will try to write something about this further. Some of these posts will be a bit like a notepad for me in the coming months as I intend to collect lots of information and put this into a book/online resource for people recovering from heart attacks or similar problems. 

Many people I have spoken to feel very alone when they are younger and have suffered, but they are not and should not feel that way at all. If anyone wants to contact me then please do so, either by commenting on here or by email or facebook. I have so far spoken to people from about 10 different countries who have suffered, but not many people from the UK.....I wonder why.

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