Monday, 13 January 2014

A new year and a break from the norm. Pericarditis - my story.

Happy new year to everyone. I hope you all enjoyed a nice Christmas and were able to get some time off your work to spend with friends and family.

Usually my blogs are about writing, my books and my experiences as an author. This blog is going to be a bit different. I'm going to talk about a disease called Pericarditis.

In 2001 (when I was 26) I was in my office going about my normal day when I started to get pains in my chest. The pain became more acute and would not go away. I struggled to the first aid room and lay down, which made the pain worse. I was terrified that I was having a heart attack and an ambulance was dully called.

I don't remember much about the ambulance trip but I do remember getting to the hospital just as the A&E was being evacuated due to an MRSA outbreak. It was a scene of chaos and turmoil. Eventually I was in my hospital bed with my mum and brother standing next to me. The doctor came in and told me that I had pericarditis; an inflammation of the pericardium which is the sack of fluid around your heart. 

All I heard were the words inflammation and heart. Not understanding what the disease was or how it could be cured I was terrified. I remember my mum's face and my brother looking shocked. I was 26, 26 year olds shouldn't have heart problems. I decided to ignore the fact that at the time I was a smoker of 20 cigarettes per day. As it turned out smoking had nothing to do with my getting pericarditis. However I never smoked another cigarette again. 

I spent some time in hospital and had a prelonged period off work to recover. A side effect of pericarditis was a condition called fibromyalgia which causes pain all over the body. I will talk about this in another blog soon. 

The important thing is that with the correct medicines and care I made a full recovery and was even able to go back to playing football. I had 6 monthly tests done every year for several years after which showed a return to normal. The experience meant I gave up smoking and ended up a lot healthier.

Pericarditis is quite common in men and is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It is fairly easily treated now and in most cases is not life threatening. 

So you are probably asking yourself why am I telling you about a disease I had 13 years ago that some of you may not have heard of. Well just before Christmas I had a return of chest pains and some of the symptoms were very similar to 2001. Finally after several weeks I went to the doctor and this week I was in hospital at the cardiology unit getting all the tests run that I had back 2001. After a day of ECG's, ultrasounds, treadmill tests and chats with my cardiologist I am glad to say the pain is not being caused by any heart problems or a return of pericarditis. The cause of the pain is still unknown but ruling out the major cause of chest pain was a relief. 

This return to hospital reminded me that I always said I would write about my experience and offer this simple message to anyone who is unlucky enough to suffer pericarditis. It can be cured and you can return to a normal life fairly soon afterwards. Maybe, you will gain something like giving up smoking as I did. I've included a link to the NHS site here in the UK that gives more details on pericarditis. 

NHS Information

I hope some of you find this blog post useful and maybe it will reassure some of you if you are going through pericarditis just now. 


twitter @bannon1975

email Kevin's email

No comments:

Post a Comment