I’ve just celebrated (for want of a better word) my 2nd anniversary of being alcohol and caffeine free. Personally, I think it’s a pretty big achievement but it wasn’t a conscious decision at the time. Let me explain.
One sunny March morning in 2015 we decided to take a little family trip to Tewkesbury and get out of our little village. It felt like one of the first days of spring so we wanted to make the most of it and get out for some long-awaited sunshine. I made myself a coffee as normal and set about the breakfast routine and the task of getting the kids (and everything they come with) ready for the trip.
After a little walk by the gorgeous river in Tewkesbury, we decided to treat ourselves to a slice of cake and a coffee. As the sun was shining and we don’t often treat ourselves I decided to have myself a fancy coffee. It was a dripper coffee of one of the coffee shops special blend coffees so nice and strong, just how I liked it. If I’m honest it was pretty tasty but didn’t live up to my expectations and wasn’t really worth the extra cost.
We took another meander down the high street visiting several charity shops along the way and before we knew it it was lunchtime. In for a penny etc so we thought we would have a pub lunch. I decided to have a pint of bitter with my food (a burger I think) and all was good. The pub garden was well sheltered and in full sunshine and everything was great.
We got home and I had a cup of tea as usual and a little later started to get the kids ready for bed. I was having some daddy-son fun on the bed and was throwing Fin around which made him giggle so much. It was at this time that I started having heart palpitations. I didn’t think anything of it as I’ve had them before but they pass soon after. This one didn’t!
An hour later I thought it was best to contact the NHS helpline for some advice. Off to hospital for me! Once there I was soon put on a monitor where my heart rate was up at around 180BPM and then some. Pretty fast! The staff there were fantastic and soon told me that my condition was called Atrial Fibrillation. Sounds scary and to be honest it was!
From the NHS website:
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.
A normal heart rate should be regular and between 60 and 100 beats a minute when you’re resting. You can measure your heart rate by feeling the pulse in your neck or wrist.
In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats a minute.
This can cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness. You may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations, where your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or, in some cases, a few minutes.
Sometimes, atrial fibrillation doesn’t cause any symptoms and a person with it is completely unaware that their heart rate isn’t regular.
Now, this is where the really scary bit starts. In order to bring my heart rate back down to normal levels, I was given a drug called Flecainide which lowers the heart rate. The nurse gave me this and I could instantly feel my heart rate begin to slow. All good, or so I thought. About 30 seconds to a minute later I started to feel a little hot and sweaty and my vision started to darken at the edges. Uh oh! I said to the nurse that I wasn’t feeling too great and just as she called for a doctor everything went black! The next thing I knew was I hadn’t about 4-5 doctors around me running alongside the bed which was travelling at a high speed down hospital corridors, they were all saying my name and trying to keep me conscious. The next thing I knew was they were powering up the difribulator machine. Eek! Thankfully it wasn’t needed. Oddly enough I was quite calm despite the situation. They strapped an oxygen mask on me and raised my legs in the air and I started to come around. I was absolutely soaked with sweat by this time. No joke, it was like someone had sprayed me with a hose! The first and only thing I said afterwards was “Well that was scary”.
Nobody could tell me why this happened to me but said that the coffee and alcohol could’ve been contributing factors. It was then that I made the decision to give up alcohol and caffeine. Even though I gave these up I had another episode a few months later and again I took myself off to hospital. I had another adverse reaction to the drugs but nothing as severe as before.
So 2 years on and I’m still alcohol and caffeine free but most importantly I haven’t had another onset of heart palpitations. Woohoo! It has been so easy giving these up and I haven’t missed alcohol one litter bit, not even at Christmas.