OR ME & MY BIG GEEK HEART ATTACK…

So why have I been off the radar and this website for the past three weeks? Well, everything was going swimmingly well until the afternoon of Thursday 14 November when it was struck down – literally and metaphorically – by a heart attack (technically an aortic dissection) and found myself rolling across the office floor, thinking to myself: there must be more to life than dying amid a pile of paperwork awaiting filing.

There then followed a harum-scarum ambulance race across East Anglia to the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, where the staff of the Acute Medical Unit put me through about 9 hours of tests to try to find out what was wrong with me. Unlike other forms of heart attacks where a key symptom is a crushing chest pain, with an aortic dissection – where the inner wall of the aorta has split – the pain is in the back. But unfortunately a back pain can also be a symptom of other complaints, including slipped discs, kidney stones and even chronic indigestion. Eventually I had my diagnosis and the no-so-good news that the only place with the staff and facilities to operate on me was 75 miles away at Papworth.

There then followed another harum scarum cross country ambulance dash across the Fens from Norwich to Papworth – by road as my condition was regarded as too precarious to risk any turbulence that might be associated with a helicopter air-ambulance trip.

And so it was that at about 8am on Friday morning I was wheeled into the operating theatre for what proved to be a 100% successful (but lengthy, I was under the knife for around 6 hours) operation. The dissection was fixed by surgery and, i’m very glad to report, without complications or the need for any kevlar stents, artificial replacement heart valves or pacemakers being fitted.

One week later I was home with a prognosis of a full recovery by March – one of the slowest bits to mend will the breast-bone/sternum which had to be split during the operation and is currently held together by wire! (Or possibly baler-twine, this being Norfolk.)

Clearly my guardian angels were looking over me that day, as there were so many what-ifs that could have easily gone badly wrong however my hero is my wife and business partner Jane Christian who scraped me off the floor, called the ambulance, was with me at the N&N and then on the long drive to Papworth, then was by my bedside when I finally emerged from the anaesthetic – and then made a 150 mile round-trip every day for a week to visit me in hospital… and those visits meant everything to me in keeping up my spirits. Florence Nightingale meets Pepper Potts as in her spare time Jane also kept the business ticking over.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has wished me well, sent flowers, fruit, cards, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and books (tho a Philip K Dick anthology for a man who had to wear a catheter for a week seems a little Freudian). I will be sending personal thank-you notes to everyone in due course but in the meantime THANK YOU!

What was the scariest bit? I’m not sure if it was overhearing the medics saying there was no point in a doctor accompanying me on the trip from Norwich to Papworth because if the aorta did rupture, there was nothing anyone could have done to save me. Or, whether it was being presented with a consent form at dawn where the options were basically (i) do nothing, decline surgery and definitely die or (ii) do something, have the surgery and possibly die. I was rather hoping for an option (iii) wake up in the morning and find it was all a bad dream.

Scars? Yes I have a few but I promise no selfies on Facebook but let’s just say that if you are casting for a zombie movie and need someone who looks like they’ve just revived after an autopsy, I’m your man. I may also have to change my Twitter handle from ChristianUncut to ChristianSliced_n_Diced

You can find a good piece on aortic dissection on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aortic_dissectionit is relatively rare, occurring in maybe 30 per million people each year. It is more common in men and the mean age at diagnosis in 63 – which makes me Mr Average as I was born in 1950. It is also a killer, with 40% of cases leading to death before the victim reaches hospital. (And yes, I am glad I didn’t read the mortality figures until after I was discharged from hospital.) The first case ever identified was King George II – and it also killed Lucille Ball and Albert Einstein.

So, what next?

We have decided to cancel the December issue of the Insider newsletter however we will be back with issue #269 in January.

We will be running news stories and feature articles back on this website from next Monday (9th December) – and in the meantime we’ll also be catching up with the backlog of job and event postings.

We’ll also be catching up with any outstanding correspondence over the next few days.

On the events and conferences front, I’m going to be cutting back on all travel and personal appearances until Q2 of next year, to allow time for my sternum to fully mend.

And that’s it. My apologies for inflicting such a saga on you and normal service, including my usual flippancy, will be resumed.