John’s story

“I was 48 years old with five children between the ages of 6 and 16 and working long hours when I had a few episodes of tingling up my arm and slight chest pain.

I knew I was a little overweight and had high cholesterol, but I had changed my diet recently to get rid of any salt. I didn’t drink much alcohol and I didn’t eat many fatty foods. I could not afford to slow down, I had a business to run and a family to support.

Gradually though over 6 months I found myself feeling weaker and puffing and panting just walking up the steps to our house. I did not know what was wrong with me. After a trip to the GP I was sent straight to St Vincent’s Hospital where I was admitted overnight for some tests. They told me I had ischaemia and to me that could have been a fleabite for all I knew about medical terms! On the 12th June 1979 I underwent a triple bypass operation. After the operation I went straight back to work.

Since then I have undergone two reworks on the original bypass. It has now been 22 years since my last operation and the disease lies dormant. I have a check up every 6 months and I try and walk every day and eat the right foods.

We all have the idea that medicine is a magic bullet and that you take a pill and everything is fixed. I am 82 now and have had a lifetime of heart disease and I have seen enormous changes in medical treatment in that time. Medical research is a long road and every step is an improvement on the last. I could be a lot fitter but I am doing well if I can get up tomorrow."