An increasing circle of running friends

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Last Saturday at Wimpole Estate parkrun. The weather was excellent, we all had a good run and then had coffee and homemade cake to celebrate a 100h parkrun.

Six years to the day, today, since I had my heart attack at 58. Within 3 hours, I was stented, returned to the ward, spent two nights in hospital, discharged home to the care of my wife, Lorna and began a period of recuperation and recovery. I attended an excellent rehab programme at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge consisting of a series of cardiac, diet and lifestyle talks and later physical rehabilitation in the hospital gym where it was a sobering sight seeing very ill or disabled people struggling to recover. Concerning the national uptake for cardiac rehabilitation, Addenbrookes was one of the highest at 46% (that is, 54% of suitable cardiac candidates declined the opportunity). 12 planned sessions of increasing, monitored activity. I enjoyed these sessions and had complete confidence in the experienced staff (cardiac rehab nurses, sports scientist and dietician).

My only serious criticism of the Addenbrookes cardiac care path was the absence of psychological and emotional focus in the rehab programme and particularly the impact on close family. Probably my experience of a myocardial infarction wasn’t typical. I quickly self diagnosed I was having a heart attack, I didn’t experience pain, I wasn’t frightened, I had complete confidence in the ambulance crew, the paramedic and the hospital staff. Unfortunately it was very different for Lorna who wasn’t with me at the time and had to make her own way to the hospital and wait a long time for information about me. It was a far more traumatic experience for her. Subsequently, the rehab programme seemed to marginalise the family and didn’t appear to recognise that some patients were depressed, anxious or frightened,

Overall, I feel lucky to have had a cardiac episode in the Addenbrookes/Papworth Hospital area. Even when I made a discreet complaint (to the cardiac rehab nurse) about the arrogant and rude attitude of a registrar at an out patient appointment, it was sorted out quickly and without fuss.

Six months later, I discovered Cambridge parkrun which had started 5 weeks previously and I’ve never looked back. Running didn’t stop me having a heart attack but it furnished me with a level of fitness that allowed me to recover and continue running at a satisfactory level which includes 10ks and half marathons. That’s more than good enough.