Our lives have completely changed

20 December 2013        

Malcolm Coulson

In December 2003, Malcolm went to his doctor with chest pains, sweating and tightness in the chest. He was given an electrocardiogram (ECG) and it emerged that he was having a heart attack. While in hospital, he was diagnosed with heart failure.

I was walking along the promenade in Whitby with my wife Jan when I started to feel unwell. I was taken to hospital, and after an ECG I was told I was having a heart attack. I was then later diagnosed with heart failure. This news came as a total shock as I had always been active.

I think I was impatient and wanted to recover too quickly following my heart attack. I was pushing myself too much. That is when I met my rehabilitation nurse, Clare Valentine. She talked me through what had happened to my body and explained it could take a long time to recover.

More complications

I was doing well but in March 2008 my breathing started to get worse. I was only working part-time but I had to give it up. I couldn’t do the garden or walk up the stairs, I could just about manage a walk to the shops with my walking stick, but my wife would have to come and pick me up to take me home. 

I was left feeling worse than before.


In February 2010 I had a heart bypass, but unfortunately I developed a collapsed lung and an abnormal heart rhythm called an arterial flutter. I was really disappointed, as I hoped this operation would improve things, but I was left feeling worse than before. Clare was right there with me though. I was really down, but she would come every week and stay as long as it took to cheer me up.

Clare then introduced me to heart failure specialist nurse, Janet Raw. Janet has made a huge difference by getting my medication right, getting me on the new medication that she heard about at a BHF conference, and then referring me for a pacemaker.

Feeling better

In February 2011 I had a pacemaker and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted. This enabled me to walk better and I found I wasn’t as tired. It also meant I could play with my granddaughters, something I couldn’t do before. Before I had been unable to do anything, my skin was a grey colour and would sit in my chair all day.

It has been a really long road for my wife and me. Our lives have completely changed and we have had to learn to adapt. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without Janet or Clare. The difference they have made is unbelievable, they haven’t just supported me, and they have been a great support to my wife as well. They really did give me my life back.

Text Santa

Malcolm appeared on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle as part of ITV's Text Santa fundraising appeal.

Over 2 million people in the UK struggle with the devastating effects of heart disease. The money raised through Text Santa will enable us to continue to fund nurses, who provide vital care in communities and ensuring help is just a phone call away.

To donate £5, text SANTA to 70070.

Every penny of your donation will be distributed equally between the six charities.