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Why I created Hearty & Healthy

Updated: Sep 12, 2018


One week on...

Heart attacks and cardiac arrests are NOTHING like they are in the movies. The image of my beloved husband of not-even-two-years, Tim, enduring a cardiac arrest as he was pushed into an ambulance, will haunt me forever.

Actually, if you’re going to have a cardiac arrest, doing it as two burly paramedics called Dave and Simon are wheeling you into the back of their ambulance, is probably not a bad idea.


On the morning of Tim’s heart attack we’d had a blazing row about solar panels. He was due to go for his second ever personal training session at the gym, and for some unknown reason I decided to go with him so I could have a run on the treadmill. We still weren’t talking as we went our separate ways in the gym.


Towards the end of Tim’s session, I noticed he’d had to take himself off for a little tactical chunder, so I went to chat to the trainer Gary, who trains me as well. Something felt a little off. Tim wasn’t as fit as he could be, but he certainly wasn’t screamingly unfit.

Suddenly I got paged by the gym reception and I hurtled down the stairs and found Tim collapsed face down outside the gym door. He’d taken himself to the toilet, felt his arms starting to fail and had somehow got himself outside, where he’d fallen.


I started to ring an ambulance but a girl from the gym was already speaking to them and she passed me over. She asked me a number of questions and I just kept repeating, ‘He’s having a heart attack, we need an ambulance.’ I’m still not sure why I said it.


Tim is just 38 years old, so I don’t suppose anyone really expected that he actually was having a heart attack. That’s for old people, hugely obese people, and those who drink and smoke from morning until night, right? Wrong it would seem.


He wasn’t having the classic symptoms though like left arm or jaw pain, and instead of pain in his chest, he said it just felt heavy and crushed.


The paramedics were just around the corner and arrived in only three or four minutes. As they pushed him up inside, he began to go into cardiac arrest. The paramedics slammed the doors and got to work.


Standing there, on my own, staring at the closed doors of the ambulance was one of the worst moments of my life.


And all I could think about was, ‘I’ll never, ever get to say sorry to him for being mental about solar panels.’ I felt utterly helpless.


People from the gym, plus three other ambulances, a rapid response paramedic and a police car, turned up and some sat with me. A paramedic called Matt took me into his ambulance and told me Tim was alive. I remember seeing his sushi lunch on the dashboard and apologising for interrupting his lunchbreak.


They told me Tim was conscious and knew who he was and said I could see him. He was sitting up on the trolley, covered in wires and with an oxygen mask covering his face, and we both apologised about 'Solargate' and told each other we loved each other. An added bonus was the paramedics had hacked away at his hideous lime green and blue t-shirt, which Tim always insisted on wearing on holidays. Thanks, chaps, I owe you one, or ten.


We were blue-lighted straight to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, a cardiac centre of excellence, and they wheeled Tim straight into the ‘cath lab’ to have a life-saving stent fitted to his main coronary artery, which had been completely blocked.

I was taken into the staff room and given sweet tea, after a nurse found me sobbing and leaning against a wall.


An hour and a half later, after an emotional reunion with Tim’s parents and his best friend, we were taken to see him, in his sunny private room, with nothing more than a tiny cut in his wrist, where they’d gone in to fit the stent.


The NHS rules all.


Tim’s artery had been almost completely blocked, and his exertions at the gym likely dislodged a piece of plaque, which then fully blocked his artery and sent his heart into a ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest.

Two days after, we were sent home to begin life with anxiety in our hearts, but also a new-found respect for life, our diets and lifestyles, and each other.


Tim’s heart attack was likely caused by a genetic proclivity to heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, coupled with a very stressful job, binge drinking and smoking at weekends, a poor diet and not enough exercise.


Everything came together to cause it, but the universe came together to save us. I’ll never not be grateful for every single person who saved my Tim that day.


Since then, we’ve embarked on a new diet and a new lifestyle and Hearty & Healthy is our way to share our journey, our pictures, our recipes and everything we learn along the way.

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