Linda in her own words
Having a heart attack can come as a huge shock, especially if you’ve been in good health beforehand. This is Linda Bartle’s first-hand and very honest account of her experiences.
What do you do when you think you are having a heart attack? Heart attacks happen to other people.
You are walking up stairs in a station surrounded by hundreds of strangers in the morning rush hour and you are a long way from home. Well, the last thing you do is panic. You have to be calm and focused on what you are doing and be mindful of where you are – no one wants to be ill miles from home – right?
This actually happened to me at a very busy railway station on Monday morning, 2nd December, 2013 at 9am. I felt the pain in my chest first but I thought it was because I was rushing from one platform to another to catch yet another train, so I dismissed the pain.
When I was sat on my next train I became hot and sweaty and there was pain in my left arm, I could hardly breathe. But it was only a short journey, so I kept telling myself to hang on for 20 minutes until I got to my destination and so I did. I now know I should have called an ambulance straight away, but I tried to keep calm and when I got to the station I had a 15 minute walk to a place where I thought I could get help.
The manager met me at the office and asked if I was alright and I said I have these pains. So immediately she dialled 999 and the ambulance arrived and took me to the nearest A & E department of the local hospital.
Having a heart attack makes you take a long hard look at yourself and your life
That was when it hit me – I could have died. I still can’t believe it – heart attacks happen to other people not to me. I was fit and healthy, I had never been ill in my life and I had never been in hospital as a patient before – this wasn’t happening to me – how could it? It just doesn’t make sense. It was like a dream – a bad dream but the pain was real. I wasn’t dreaming, this was actually happening to me. It was scary – very scary.
I have had to come to terms with the fact that I have had a heart attack and that my life will change forever. The doctors say that I will be on medication for the rest of my life and I know that it will help to protect me from having another one.
I am a 63 year old young woman, I have never smoked, I don’t drink, I am not overweight and I don’t have diabetes, there is no family history of heart disease and I do not have high blood pressure and I am not from certain ethnic groups which have a higher risk of coronary heart disease. So, why me?
I don’t know the answer to that sixty million dollar question, I wish I did and then I would do everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Having a heart attack makes you take a long hard look at yourself and your life – you see things differently and the things that used to mean a lot to you are no longer that important. I can’t turn the clock back - I have to go forward, think of my future and how I will do things differently from now on.
I have had a terrible shock, a warning; there may not be a second chance. I know I could have died and I do not want to die yet, I still have so much that I want to do in my life.
I think that positive mental attitude goes a long way to help recovery
The heart attack came as a big shock to me because I have never been ill before; I have never been a patient in a hospital and I never take medicines of any kind, not even for a headache. Now I have read every one of the BHF booklets, which are really good. I want to understand what happened to me and what I can do to prevent it from happening again.
Since the (I never call it ‘my’) heart attack I want to live more than ever, I have so much more to accomplish, I refuse to let a heart attack stop me from living my life. I still can't believe that I have had a heart attack.
Friends and family were completely surprised because I have always been so active, so full of life, so young and enthusiastic and such a positive and happy person. But I am determined to carry on living my life. I think that positive mental attitude goes a long way to help recovery. When I was studying in Oxford, on International Women's Day, we wore T-shirts with the words "Never Give In" on the back and I don't intend to, ever.
Read about how Linda’s been supported by other people
Read about Dave Webb's support through hockey team spirit
Read our tips for supporting a loved one with health issues