Heart Failure – Too much or too little 


I will always remember my marvellous cardiologist explaining to me that he saw some heart failure patients do too much and others not enough in life but never anybody who got it right. All the way through this he always said only I know how I feel, he supported my critical illness insurance claim and I won it, he supported my return to work as I wanted to, he would support if I choose retirement as would need to fight for it and he has never questioned my exercise apart from don’t do all 3 triathlon disciplines at once (I just laughed and kept my mouth shut)

So by Saturday night last week I had broken the golden rule of living with heart failure, I had forgotten that heart failure always wins if you ignore looking after your invisible “friend” treat him well and he may let you live a positive life but forget to nourish and let him know who is the most important thing in your life he will let you know.

I woke Saturday morning to take kids final game of season knowing I had let myself become too run down and my invisible friend was letting me know as I became very symptomatic, fatigue had hit, my mind was foggy with negative & confused thoughts, my eyes were blurry, I felt as dragging an anchor as I walked but most dangerous of all I knew that especially at work I could explode in emotional rage at simplest stupidest thing.

After 9 years and lots of mistakes the biggest impact on my management style at work has been the anger I shout at colleagues, the highly emotion responses to irrelevant smallest things. It causes me to lose any emotional loyalty I have gained since my last such day, I can so clearly spot the signs now and know how to manage such days. With family and friends I can just about hide it and it helps that Lorna has same condition so spots it and let’s me ride it out but work is different there are too many triggers lurking.

I knew on Saturday after careful backtracking that i had not had a day off for 4 weeks, I had worked 6 days a week 3 weeks in a row. I had gone to Manchester for a Conference, we had 2 days of filming a TV program for lorna’s website ‘feed your family for around £20 a week’ and every day had involved driving. I had gotten swept along with a busy life and forgot the need to rest and recuperate.


This was a self induced attack of symptoms and after 9hrs at work I felt I had succeeded. I had kept my self busy well at least looked busy when in reality I had done little. I spoke to those closest and explained I just need to get through this and I will on Sunday show my invisible friend he is indeed the most important thing in my life.

9 hrs of success is ruined when we get to shift handover! 8 managers in one small room and the lead manager, who is a great supporter and friend of mine, says something about my handover and out it comes the swearing & shouting, the stand up and storm out office to rectify the issue slamming the door behind me almost taking it off the hinges. Even in the midst of the childish tantrum I know I am wrong. Disappointment overwhelmed me and I felt annoyed and embarrassed!


When I return to the office it is quiet and atmosphere fills the room. I apologise to my lead manager after meeting is over and she understands as always does but the damage is done! My respect amongst fellow managers could be damaged the only saving grace is it wasn’t a member of my staff or witnessed by any members of staff. It is a long time since I reacted in such a way but I was wrong and my confidence is dented.

The store manager took me aside Monday for friendly chat about being careful how I to talk to senior managers, he is supportive but I know I have let myself down.

My heart failure is a hidden disability that in reality affects me psychologically more than physically. The key for me is to understand it is always with me, waiting to let me know I have forgotten that. People look & see the happy & healthy John when in reality dark moods, negativity & anger is brewing inside.

The key to living with a chronic condition and possible self managing condition is to understand you can never beat it, every decision I make has effect good or bad, in one day I could have blown all the good work I have put in over the last few months. Unfortunately only one person is to blame. ME.

*The opinions expressed are the guests own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.

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