My name is Andy. I’m now 38, and at the tender age of 7 after dental treatment, I was ill and taken to the local hospital. After several tests they diagnosed me with a heart murmur.
Several years later, attending senior school aged 11, I was taken ill doing sports. My mother went along with me to my GP who sent me to hospital via ambulance. I was admitted for tests – I had an ECG (electrocardiograph) and chest X-rays, and they noticed a vast difference in the size of my heart compared to when I was 7.
I was referred to a paediatric cardiologist whom performed a cardio catheter and diagnosed me with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HCM). At that time very little was known about this condition. My mom was called into the side room with the doctor – she was alone as dad was at work – and she was told that I wouldn’t see my 20th birthday.
I lived with the condition, but you can imagine that at eleven years old I wanted to do normal eleven-year-old things – i.e. running, playing with mates, etc – but mom didn’t let me. I went for regular treatment and check ups and took tablets every day. Mom basically wrapped me up in cotton wool and made me tread on egg shells.
There was numerous times I was admitted to hospital for the next 15 years. During these years not much could be done, as little was known about the condition. Then, aged 26, I was very poorly with atrial fibrillation and had to be cardioverted 5 times in one year. I was told that I had to have an ablation of my atrio-ventricular node and be paced – which helped me a lot.
I still had frequent hospital stays and check ups. At 30, I met my now wife and we have 3 children. I now know why mom treated me with such close care and love as my own children are now under close medical supervision. As yet my children are clear.
If it wasn’t for mom I would certainly have died at a young age. She was so strong through this, and now my wonderful wife Becky is my guardian angel, as mom is now disabled – but still there for me and my wife. Mom has remarried to a wonderful man who looks after her – and he has done more than his share of caring for me at times of illness before I met my wife.
On December 3rd 2007 I was admitted to hospital to get my pacemaker changed. This procedure was successful, but I have now been informed that I am totally dependant on it.