So, this post is a bit different from the norm, but I think it will do me good to write it, so here we are. April 18th, 2024, was a bit of a “game changer” for me, but the story starts the day before. It was my daughter’s 13th birthday, and while I was very proud, I’d also been feeling a bit off. Nothing super obvious, but I’d had a few head rushes when I got up quickly, and that felt notable. I had a doctor’s appointment booked for the following week, so I figured I’d just bring it up then and get checked out.

When I got out of bed on the 18th, though, it was apparent something more was happening. I had four notifications on my Apple Watch that I’d had a “Low heart rate overnight,” so I decided to go directly to the doctor’s and get things checked out. I’m sure glad I did.

After an amazing consultation with a nurse practitioner and an ECG, it was clear something was going on with my heart. The initial result showed I had some form of arrhythmia called a first-degree heart block. The nurse, being highly skilled and talented, gave me some great advice on getting through the ED quickly, so I was off to the hospital to get a chest x-ray and some blood work done before presenting to the ED staff. Armed with all this information, I was quickly assessed. Further tests (mainly testing my heart under load) showed that I had, in fact, a third-degree heart block, a serious issue that basically translates to being at high risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The doctor said at the time it was quite likely I’d need either a pacemaker or an ICD implanted.

Obviously, this was quite a “surprise”…

I can’t say I quite knew what to think at the time. Particularly because I felt basically “fine.” I kept thinking, “But I’m only 43, I look after myself, this can’t be right.” In hindsight, I think I was basically a bit numb. I more or less just took things as they came; I sort of assumed that with a bit more time and information, we’d get a clearer picture of what was going on.

At this point, I was admitted to the hospital as it just wasn’t safe to send me home. My heart could basically just stop at any time, and I think we can all agree that sounds like a good reason to bunk up with some medical staff. Over the next few weeks, I had a series of tests done to try and get that clearer picture. An MRI of my heart showed some small scarring, which seemed to be the cause of the heart block. A PET scan identified the source of that scarring as an autoimmune disease called “Sarcoidosis“.

Somehow, I remained positive, or at least numb.

It was now clear an ICD was the way forward. A week later, I was having the device implanted. The day after surgery, I was out of the hospital; three weeks and one day following admission. I can’t even express how grateful I am to all of the hospital staff. I will have more to say about this in future posts.

To say this was a surreal experience would be a total understatement. On my way home, I found myself in a BP petrol station waiting on a coffee. Twenty-four hours earlier, I wasn’t allowed more than twenty meters away from a nurse with a defibrillator; now I had one in my chest. Completely bizarre.

From heart surgery to a BP station in 24hours :/

It’s now a month later, and I’m still coming to terms with all this. Needless to say, there is a continuing road to go down with this sort of thing, so there will be more to follow on this subject. The good news is that, at least for the time being, I’m safe, my kids have a father, and my wife has a husband. Amazing how something like this makes it very clear what really matters; for me, it’s them.


7 responses to “A Surreal Journey: From Head Rushes to Heart Surgery”

  1. Pete Avatar

    And your friends have a friend 🙂

  2. Carol Foote Avatar

    Shocking news. Look after yourself Glen

  3. Lynette Avatar

    Wow. I’m pleased to read here that the Apple Watch helped get you to the right help you needed! In your story, so often the case, I’m only 43, it can’t be anything major…. If you need any help getting back into exercise give me a shout… so glad to hear you are ok.

    1. Glen Young Avatar

      I might just take you up on that Lynette.

  4. Monique Avatar

    Wow Glen, that is so scary! Super glad you’re now safe and that your wife and kids have a husband and father… Can only imagine how anxious all of you would have been. It could have been a very different story 😥 Take care xo

  5. Charles Avatar

    Wow. What an experience you’d rather not have! So fortunate you had the wisdom to make those decisions, got good care, and we got to read your blog. We’ve had our own health scares and you sure hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph. On the plus side no amount of money can buy your newfound appreciation for life, so enjoy it! Most people don’t get that kind of appreciation for life till they’re too old to.

  6. Anne Avatar

    And your mother has a son she loves to the moon and back.