Under The Pump

Hello friends, 

I’m glad you’re here. I want to tell you a bit of news. 

Almost two weeks ago, my GP sent me off for some tests, after I went to see her complaining of increasing shortness of breath. She mmmm-ed in a concerned way as she listened to my chest, and that mmmm confirmed to me what I knew instinctively – something wasn’t right. 

Things had gotten to the point where getting through the supermarket checkout, walking back to the car and loading the groceries left me panting, and getting dressed left me breathless. I was avoiding seeing people if it meant any level of physical exertion, and even waking up in the night, coughing and short of breath. That’s not normal for a girl of any size. 

Before that day was over, I was packing a bag and heading for the emergency department of the local public hospital, at my doctor’s behest. 

I spent a total of seven hours in the most uncomfortable chairs in the world. (Seriously, those chairs sucked, hard. Someone call the OH&S team.) 

After surviving the chairs, I spent another seven hours in a bed in emergency, and was then admitted to the cardiac care unit. There’s a clue. 

I don’t mind telling you, there were a few tears that Friday morning. Once I’d run the gauntlet of the emergency department, and adrenaline turned to tiredness, there was time to contemplate the words of the various doctors I’d seen over the past 14 hours. Heart failure. Gulp. 

Once I’d levelled up to a bed in the emergency department, the young doctor pulling the night shift asked me if I had any questions for her. 

Just one – is this going to kill me? I like to cut to the chase. 

She said no, not in an entirely convincing manner, bless her, but it was well into the wee small hours by then. I think the directness of my question surprised her a little. 

Heart failure is a terrible name for an illness, don’t you think? I know I do. It’s a scary one too. 

All up I spent five nights in hospital, and have nothing but praise for the level of care I received. Nurses are incredible. Doctors too. I don’t know how they do what they do, but I’m bloody grateful for their expertise and compassion. Even the food was passable. I felt better than I had in months, within a day or two. 

I had a long chat with my GP today, and though I still feel like my head is swimming with new information, and we don’t have all the answers yet, I do feel like I can get my head around it all, incrementally. It’s a whole new world, but I can adapt to it. Goodbye potato chips, hello apples. I’m even thinking about buying a bread maker.

I’ve been resting, reading food labels and googling like nobody’s business – but steering well clear of the “cure yourself with lemons” brigade. I’ll take my advice from reputable scientific sources, thanks. 

There’s a plan coming together, and I feel very, VERY lucky to have access to the level of expert care and assistance that I do. I even went back to work today, which was great in its ordinariness, if a bit tiring. 

My pump may be a bit fucked, but it’s not over yet. 


Annette x 


38 thoughts on “Under The Pump

  1. You are awesome!!! So proud of you for sharing your story.
    It’s not easy to embrace a new journey but I believe in you with my whole heart.
    Go you good thang!!


  2. I’m glad to hear you’re starting to feel better already. I imagine that your body will continue to recover over time and you will look back on this time and wonder how it managed to get to the extent it has unnoticed. The level of illness that can gradually creep up on us is amazing.
    Keep on asking questions and ask them again if you need clarification – sometimes stuff like this can mess around with the ability to process and store this big information. Take care X o


  3. You have a beautiful heart, Nettie. It never fails to encourage others, your speak directly from it and it holds the depths of your emotional being. How a muscly pump manages to become equated with all these things I don’t know, but it is interesting, don’t you think, that hearts have been the symbols of love for all time? There is no failure in your heart of hearts. Your pump just needs some support. There is no one I know who embraces learning about new things like you do. You are ace, lady. It’s a shitty thing to have to adjust away from some of your favourite things, but I for one am glad you are doing all that you need to do. I need your heart in my world! You are a favourite human of mine. XXXXXXXX


  4. Annette I am so very sorry to hear of this! I’m also surprised it took them 7 hours to see you in A&E – I have heard that ticker problems are given major priority. But so very glad you are on the mend with excellent care. Sending you lots and lots of love ❤️. Sarah xx


    • I went back and forth to triage in that time, and was only uncomfortable because of the hell-chairs. They were busy, and I was on their radar. All good. Now to live sans chippies… Sob! ❤️


  5. That must have been a scary day. What a pronouncement to have to hear. What a good, good thing it is to have answers and ways to go about things and the power to do something about it. Take care, keep well (and I love Rachel’s synopsis above, your heart hasn’t failed, your pump just needs some attention) xx


  6. So sorry to hear this Annette. Damn ventricles! No wonder you have been feeling so exhausted. I’m so glad that you got such excellent care. You’ve got a whole new project. Tackle it like you do your paintings and your general approach to life and you are going to do good. Look after yourself, like really do. You are precious. Much love xxxx


  7. This news rocked me so I can scarcely imagine how it must have felt to be on the receiving end! Sounds like you were in the right places at the right times when the body started to play up so that was fortunate. Your positivity is admirable because it is very hard to make the kind of changes you are but you are doing them for the best reason ever.. “living your life” because there is so much good in that life to live!
    Onward! I’m so pleased for you to have a supportive group that cared for you in hospital and a good GP to follow up with & keep you well.
    Take care! Thinking of you often
    Denyse x


  8. Hmmm, that word ‘failure’ is not nice. Kinda want the heart to be a success! We are blessed to have access to healthcare so that we don’t end up having ‘Annette failure’.need to hit some spices to pump up the flavour. Sprinkle some spices on some pulses, bung’em in the oven for a crispy, healthy treat.


  9. Wow! Call me alarmist, but that sounds pretty damned serious. What a fright you must have got. So glad you’re on track with a plan. Wise words about the ‘cure yourself with lemons’ crew – being an unfortunate recipient of an autoimmune disease, there are a whole lot of charlatans out there who will try and convince you of the most ridiculous things. Glad you’ve already sorted the wheat from the chaff. Speedy recovery. xx


    • It is serious. Yup. No recovery as such, just management from here on in.
      I definitely feel better now that my symptoms are being managed.
      Lots of changes ahead. Wish me a big helping of perseverance!


  10. Sorry to hear about your pump issues Annette. I am glad though to hear that you have taken action and have good quality care. A life without chips sounds daunting but you are strong and smart ( and you have a creative outlet which I’m sure will help too). Hang in there. xx


  11. Goodness – what a shock it must have been! Good on you for getting it checked, and being able to put something in place that leads to a less tired ‘normal’. I hope you continue to improve, and look back on this as a turning point xx


  12. Gosh! How scary for you!
    I’ve found myself in a similar situation recently. Had a routine blood test which came back with some abnormalities – completely unexpected. Playing the waiting game now – should get some more results back early next week.
    All the best with the potato chips (or lack thereof), couldn’t think of anything worse haha 😉


  13. How scary for you, I’m glad you trusted your instincts. We all need to do that a bit more often I think. Also glad to hear you aren’t falling down the Google rabbit hole!


  14. dear Annette, I have been on a device free holiday and now catching up with my emails to find you’ve not been well! sorry to hear this and hoping they will be on top of things soon!
    they are very clever with heart problems, as my dad has had a 5 graph by-pass 19 years ago plus valve etc and he will be 92 this year! … and still enjoys life … amazing!
    lots of salads and veg for you hun! … I am my own tyrant with good food!
    it’s retraining the brain and you are good at that!
    all the best hun and take care of yourself!
    much love m:)X


    • Thanks Merilyn, I’m making adjustments and getting my head around it, I think! Lots of information to process. I’m glad your dad is still going strong, that’s so encouraging!


  15. What a terrifying experience and as always it sounds like you handled it with bravery and humor. I sincerely hope you start feeling better really soon. ❤


    • I definitely feel HEAPS better since the admission and diagnosis, now it’s all about adjusting my diet, getting used to remembering to take all my medications, watching my fluid intake… I’m learning how to create a new normal. Six months from now we should have a better idea of what’s ahead.


  16. Have they given you a name for your condition, other that heart failure? I’ve also got a bit of a heart thing going on but it’s different to you. I have Supra Ventricular Tachycardia where my heart begins to beat very fast (up to 188 beats per minute, last time). I saw a cardiologist recently and I am going to have a procedure where they go in (keyhole) with a catheter up from my groin to my heart and another goes in under my collar bone. They work out where the rhythm is being short circuited then ablate the node so the rhythm will return to normal. It has a 95% success rate so I’m going for it. I hate living in fear of having an SVT attack – 3 times I’ve landed in hospital with it and the last time I needed medication to bring it under control. A 53 year old heart cannot continue to beat at 188 without giving out at some time!

    I hope you can get it sorted (it must have been very scary for you) and it looks like you’re on your way with your new low sodium approach to it. I am a salt fiend so am going to try cutting back at least. You know, instead of 3 turns of the salt grinder, its going to be one!

    Cheers – Joolz xx


    • Heart failure is a weird thing, I’ve discovered it’s a broad umbrella term, kind of like cancer, it has many forms.

      All the best with your surgery!!

      Throw the salt grinder out. Seriously!

      75% of the salt we consume is in the stuff we buy. Most of it we can’t even taste. Not using salt at the table and in cooking is the very easiest we can do to reduce our intake of it. Read labels, you can cut way back with a few smarter choices when shopping.

      Aussies eat double the recommended amount of salt the World Health Org suggests. Double! No wonder our hearts are under pressure. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


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