When your heart says so, Just Go
Thursday 21st January 2021
After experiencing a heart emergency late night one, Joyce called an ambulance and was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with heart failure and severe mitral valve regurgitation. Joyce was rushed to Harefield Hospital, where Dr Rob Smith used an innovative treatment which clips the mitral valve, saving her life and getting her back to her beloved husband Jim. This is Joyce's story.
“I first realised something was up when I was out walking with my husband, Jim. Suddenly, I’d say to Jim I’ve got to start making a move back because I can’t go any further. It was frustrating for both of us. Jim loves his golf, so I think he took his frustration out on the golf course!!
I was aware things were changing with my body and spoke to the doctor last year, who recommended different things which never quite got to the bottom of it. It took a while to know it was a heart problem. I just thought to myself somethings not right, and I thought I was slowing down as I was getting old. Now I feel like a different lady.
Things got noticeably worse at night when I started to get palpations. The last time it happened, I woke up at night, it felt like my heart was coming through my ribcage. Jim dialled 999 it was an emergency and we had to just go, they took me in, and I went for a consultation, and the doctor said I'm sorry I’m going to have to keep you in. then 2 days later they took me off to Harefield by ambulance.
I was quite taken back when Dr Smith said only one side of my heart was working properly. I couldn’t believe how serious it had got. I’m a positive person, and I suppose I just thought it would work itself out. Sometimes you don’t realise how serious something is until it gets very serious.
I don’t look for problems. I hadn’t a clue what Dr Smith was talking about. I thought ok he’s the doctor, and he knows what he’s doing, I just have to trust him.
When I got to Harefield, I wasn’t allowed any visitors, and couldn’t speak to my husband. I had to decide with the doctor. I had to trust him. I just felt so lucky to receive it and have it done so quickly. With so many people having to wait and obviously because of the virus, I knew I was fortunate.
Once I got over the anaesthetic, I was told I could get up and walk around, a couple of days later and I’m home with Jim. I can’t believe it. They made it look easy. It felt easy.
People ask if I was worried about the virus, but I was just so taken back that id been taken to Harefield, and I was thinking about my family and my daughters and the virus didn’t really come into it. I just knew I was lucky they would treat me, and I was going to get help. I suppose I didn't factor the virus into it, which is a testament to the staff at the hospital. I was just so concerned about my family being worried. But I knew I was lucky to be there, and that many people aren’t as lucky as me. They took me in, took care of me, and the virus never came into my mind.
Before my operation, I was quite scared. It’s a big deal, and being on my own the night before was hard. I'm not a religious person, I don’t go to church, but I did say my prayers, and I just thought thank you Lord for being there, and giving me these people to help me.
Now, I feel a different person—Health wise and mentally. I feel I’ve been so lucky. I can’t wait to get back out walking with Jim again. I’m looking forward to Jim, and I am going to Guernsey again, that’s been put on hold, but we will go as soon as we can It’s so peaceful and wonderful there, I can’t wait to walk together, eat food together and be together.”
Heart Valve Voice CEO Wil Woan said "Joyce's story shows the importance of responding to heart emergencies immediately. Joyce's valve had deteriorated and was threatening her life, but despite the pressures on the health service, she was able to be given her life-saving treatment timely and safely. Patients must have confidence that their NHS is still here to help, so if you're having a heart emergency now is not the time to 'stay home' When your heart says so, just go.