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Date: 01/07/17

31 536 000

A year ago today (by the date; yesterday by the day of the week), my life took a quite dramatic turn. A year ago today I was lying in a hospital bed in Manchester Heart Hospital wondering what was before me, but being so far gone that I didn't really care as long as it sorted some of my problems out.

(If you want to check back on what I'm talking about, then read this and the three pieces which link from the bottom of it.)

It's probably appropriate, therefore, to ponder a little on what has happened since. To which the short answer is, "Mercifully, nothing much".

The recovery from the actual surgery was not particularly arduous in itself; I was managing to get about a little bit within days of getting home, and was able to take chauffeured shopping trips not long after. I made myself walk as far as the gate, then a little bit along the road, albeit in both cases assisted by Nain's old a-touch-too-short-for-me walking stick. It was still a couple of months before I felt able to venture out a bit further, and a couple of weeks further on from that before I made an independent foray out of the square mile.

Positive reports from my cardiologist in both September and January helped my mood, but nothing like as much as being amongst my friends and colleagues in work again. This, however, has caused me a certain degree of anxiety about how I will cope when I retire (which could happen anytime in the next four years); whilst I would never describe myself as a 'people person' (that is a self-serving definition over a matter that is for others to judge; and someone who genuinely is a 'people person' never needs to go around telling people that they're a 'people person', it being self-evident from their demeanour and conduct that they are), I'm aware that in the past twelvemonth I have become far less stand-offish than I used to be, and far more willing to engage emotionally with people. This may be down to the realisation not only of my dependency on others for my own sense of well-being, but of a recognition (largely unconscious) that I've been given something of a second chance.

There are still 'issues', of course. There are things I don't feel up to doing even now, although I may be making convenient excuses for my own inherent sloth; the garden hasn't had much attention this summer, although I have had a good display of flowers on the buddleia golobosa again this year, and even the recalcitrant philadelphus by the gate has decided to bloom for the first time in about four years. I've managed to wrest back temporary control over the hedge, but had to rely on the kindness of a neighbour for the grass to get cut. Beyond that, I have failed so far to spend more time out of doors in general; I'm not one who can just sit idly in the garden.

Similarly, the Great Winter Project™ of 2015-16 has gone no further than a cursory attempt to hand-sand a few more floorboards; but there are what might be termed 'technical reasons' why that job is in abeyance as well.

This general debility, however, has been caused far less by the 'procedure' than by the medication I'm having to take to keep things on an even keel before my next inevitable encounter with the surgeon. Particularly, the diuretics. These, I eventually realised, were what was causing the severe wooziness and the strange effects on my eyesight which made the whole world seem like a picture on an old black-and-white television set where the contrast control has gone completely out of whack. So, I decided unilaterally at the end of April to half my dosage. This has helped a great deal with regard to the symptoms, because the attempts sufficiently to re-hydrate (or pre-hydrate) myself to counteract the effects were making me feel ill in other ways. And it seems not to have had any noticeable deleterious effects vis--vis the swelling. I have put weight on, but that started to happen before I decided to cut the tablets down, and it doesn't seem to have got out of control. I may have found the balance which will enable me to function.

At the end of this all, what happened a year ago seems at the same time to be as real in the memory as if it happened last week and as if it all occurred a lifetime ago. What happened to some of my fellow inmates on Ward 4? Will I ever stop referring to the consultant in Manchester by the wrong surname? Were all these people and events real? And did I really spend an inordinate amount of time sitting at the kitchen table doing jigsaw puzzles?

I can still do what I need to do, and have a bit left over to please myself. I don't need a stick to walk anymore, and I have learned to take my time over things (a useful lesson in advance of the standard enfeeblement caused by tempus fugitting along in its own malign course).

I'm still here...

Oh, and the title of this self-absorbed twaddle? The approximate number of my heartbeats since this time last year. measured at a steady 60BPM.