This might be strange for a caravan and camping based blog but … I recently had a heart attack.
Bear with me I’ll get to the RV bit in a minute, won’t be long, so please keep reading!
In brief … Easter Saturday, my wife’s birthday, heart attack, not good timing, ambulance, hospital, stent placed in block artery, out, pills, recovery, a new me, feel great.
Here’s the RV bit …
I started thinking about the what ifs? … what if we were caravanning as we normally do at this time of year, what if we couldn’t get to a hospital, what if I’d ignored the warning signs, what do I do now?
Well let’s go through them …
1# What if we were caravanning?
Well hopefully we would have been prepared, the right communication on hand, be it mobile phone, sat phone, HF radio or epirb. Please make sure you are covered for wherever you are heading.
It’s not about “we’ll be right” or “it’s great to be out of mobile range”, it’s about peace of mind. I’m certainly not scared about heading out again and there’s no stopping me now (with my wife of-course).
2# What if we couldn’t get to a hospital?
Every circumstance is different, a good (up to date) first aid kit is advised, the right communication method mentioned above, you could undertake a first aid course or at least read up on the basic methods of first aid … be prepared.
Triple Zero – 000 is the first number to call, it’ll get you help from all services.
There are also two secondary emergency call service numbers—112 and 106.
112 is available from all GSM or GSM derived mobile phones. 106 connects to the text-based relay service for people who have a hearing or speech impairment. All calls to the emergency numbers, whether from fixed, mobile, pay phones or VoIP services are free-of-charge.
More info on these numbers here … http://www.triplezero.gov.au/Pages/Usingotheremergencynumbers.aspx
There are some handy apps available like this one from the Heart Foundation. https://myheartmylife.org.au
This app not only supplies you with vital information on your medicines and condition, but has some amazing, tasty and healthy recipes.
I’ve also downloaded this app from St John.
It’s almost a first aid course on it’s own, you can learn and test yourself.
Print out and have handy The Royal Flying Doctor Service numbers http://yourhealth.flyingdoctor.org.au/find-health-information/emergency-numbers/
By the way these guys deserve a huge pat on the back for the work they do (and maybe a donation). Help is at hand, make contact, don’t leave you vehicle, stay calm.
3# What if I’d ignored warning signs?
This is directly from The Heart Foundation …
Make sure you recognize the warning signs of a heart attack and get your FREE action plan (available in ten languages) at www.heartattackfacts.org.au
Heart attacks are more common than you realize – we want every Australian to learn the warning signs of heart attack and call Triple Zero (000) if they or someone else is experiencing any symptoms.
Warning signs vary from person to person and they may not always be sudden or severe. Although chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom, some people will not experience chest pain at all.
Symptoms may include pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in one or more parts of the upper body including chest, neck, jaw, arm(s), shoulder(s) or back in combination with other symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness or a cold sweat.
4# What do I do now?
This episode in my life was scary, but I am treating it as a new start, a new me, well not quite new, just reconditioned, an engine rebore. I am lucky, sure I’ll be on meds for the rest of my life, but the alternative isn’t rosy. I can look at diet, lifestyle, exercise, all those things we often forget, particularly when we are on the road.
Exercise on the road is important, we can easily fall into a chilled out holiday lifestyle, but a simple exercise routine is just as much fun and better for you. Take a brisk walk, or run if you are up to it, 30 – 60 minutes works well and gets the heart pumping. Go a different way each day and explore your new new surroundings. A bike is also a great work out and get’s you a bit further, don’t forget the helmet. Take a work out gym with you … kidding … a skipping rope is lighter. Try kicking a ball around or set up some group activities with fellow campers. These exercises don’t have to be long and drawn out, try them when you first get up or take your walk just before dinner or ‘happy hour’. Speaking of that, the debate on alcohol will continue, my theory is moderation, a nice glass (or 2) of red will be my indulgence.
A good diet when on a holiday is one of those things we often overlook, it’s a holiday right, so throw some snags on the barbecue, call into a country bakery, have heaps of nibbles with drinks. I’m not saying forget those things, particularly if on a quick get away, I keep going back to the word ‘moderation’, especially if you are on a longer journey. There are lot’s of healthy alternatives (google is your friend), choose leaner meats, salads, veggies, prepare ahead, vacuum seal or freeze foods, try some hearty stews or soups and replace chips with vegetable sticks and a healthy dip.
Learn about food labelling and what is actually in everything you buy.
Medication … Chat with your doctor and pharmacist, plan your trip and work out what you need for the time away. Meds can be packed by your pharmacist in convenient blister packs. Ring ahead and see if the local chemists can fill your scripts (I believe there are restrictions in some states). Check with your GP about getting your medical history on a USB stick.
Once again I’ll give The Heart Foundation a plug, www.heartfoundation.org.au
There is a wealth of information here, advice on a healthy lifestyle and eating.
Throw away the fags and step away from the computer, tablet or smart phone, get off your backside, take a walk, do some exercise or jump in an RV and take off, look after yourself and enjoy life.
I used to say you only get one chance at life make it a good one, now I reckon I’ve been given a second chance and it’s going to be a bloody good one!
Cheers, stay healthy and see you on the road.
These are my opinions and thoughts based on my own experiences, I have no medical training and always suggest checking with a trained medical professional.