Major change in expectations
At the beginniing of 1995 I was a trade union official, reasonably fit, planning to retire at age 62 and then increase my travels. One day I was driving to Sheffield and had strange feelings as though I might pass out. I pulled into a motorway service station and rested briefly - then drove on and did what I had gone to do and drove home. I had no idea then what that was all about. I had a previous warning in December 1994, which again I failed to understand - extreme breathlessness after scrambling up a steep hill in the Alpujarras. Isn't hindsight wonderful? I can now see clearly two warnings long before that.
In early March, 1995 I was covering for a sick colleague in the home counties. I developed what proved to be flu but I still rolled into my own office near Leeds on Monday 6 March. I left early as I felt really rough. After several days I was clearly not recovering and was having breathing difficulties. A doctor visited and phoned an ambulance which arrived shortly.
'Don't worry if you hear the hooter,' said the driver. 'I'm just in a bit of a hurry.' I never see an ambulance now with blue lights flashing and hooter blaring without thinking of those words! I was put into a hospital bed and was wheeled away. The next thing I knew was coming to after an anaesthetic with wires sticking out of me. I spent several days in coronary care and was then moved into a medical ward where I waited to be sent to Manchester for an angiogram. I was astonished to be told that I had suffered a silent heart attack which had irreversibly wrecked one of my three main arteries - nobody knows quite when.
Having been pretty near death in the first days, I have never found spring flowers so exciting as in April of that year - when I had not expected ever to see them again. However I knew it meant premature retirement over five years before I had intended and I thought it would place a major restriction of my travel plans.
My next entry will give a short background to my travel prior to 1995