Improving work-life balance after a heart attack - Iain's story

Iain Lynch, from Emsworth near Southampton

Iain Lynch was 54 and travelling home from his job as an IT manager when he had a heart attack. He had an emergency angioplasty procedure, then triple bypass surgery the following week.

Iain, from Emsworth near Southampton, returned to work three months later, following a medical check-up. He agreed to a phased return; in the first couple of weeks, he worked a quarter of his normal hours, building up to full time after eight weeks.

He was also offered the chance to do some work from home, which he hadn’t done before. He had regular meetings with HR and his boss to check on progress. “I am sure not everyone in my position has the opportunity to do that, so I am very grateful for the support,” he says.

Another tick in the box marked ‘recovery’

Iain found working was a positive step in returning to normal. “My overwhelming feeling was one of relief to get back to a world I know, and another tick in the box marked ‘recovery’,” he says.

At first, he felt like the centre of attention, especially as many colleagues were shocked by his heart attack – he was a non-smoker who played football, tennis, badminton and golf, and hadn’t had a day off sick in 32 years. But soon, he says: “Most people moved on to treating me as before. It seemed like people quickly forgot about it – male colleagues, in particular.”

This wasn’t a big problem, though. “I did want to be treated as normal,” he says. “There were just a few times in the first six months when someone might be giving me hassle, and I would think: ‘It’s not that long ago that I had a heart attack.’”

Iain tries to limit his working week – which used to be around 55 hours – and reduce his stress levels, for example, by not driving during rush hour. He makes a point of leaving on time once a week so he can go to walking football sessions, and he’s back playing tennis, golf and badminton.

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