As I contemplated starting this new diary, and contemplated being an official OAP, I realised of course that I am two months short. January 11th 2017 will see me, metaphorically at least, trotting off to the Post Office every Thursday morning for my pension. However, I may be traumatised on the day and it may well be a ‘slow news’ day less than three weeks after Christmas, so on reflection I’ll start my rocket-powered diary today! After all, yesterday provided me with a real rocket-power inspiration – a day volunteering at the 2nd Annual Conference of a new charity, BeatSCAD.
It must be said, I have been coerced into an intimacy with this charity, which was only started a year ago, as my wife is one of the three trustees who brought this all into being. SCAD? Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection – one of those largely unknown and often misdiagnosed conditions which has led to Karen, my wife, being described as ‘rare and interesting’ on more than one occasion by curious doctors.
Whilst not so in Karen’s case, getting her SCAD post-menopause at 55, SCAD most often affects young, fit young mums as the demographic of the conference showed yesterday – though three brave male SCAD victims sat amongst 59 female survivors. In effect, it is a heart attack but without the lifestyle stigma: no causative high cholesterol, dietary finger-wagging, age or exercise issues; more likely, a fit athlete or a young mum with hormonal changes catalysing this dangerous and debilitating condition.
Understandably, SCAD victims feel cheated. They’ve done all the right things and still they get a heart attack caused by bruising or a tear in the walls of their coronary artery – for what is still fairly unknown reasons. To compound the felony, they may get sent home from hospital initially, having been told they’re having a panic attack, ECGs not showing what cardiologists expect to be shown. In an age when we know the value of ‘the golden hour’ – quick treatment reducing muscle damage to an attacked heart – any such delay can have devastating consequences. But, enough of the condition itself (before, if it isn’t already the case, I go beyond my bio-mechanical comfort zone). Google it!
What has impressed me most – and immensely – is how SCAD patients themselves have ensured high quality research into this rare disease. Initially, Rebecca Breslin harangued her consultant, David Adlam, about the lack of knowledge and research into the condition. The redoubtable Dr Adlam didn’t need much haranguing. As he demonstrated to the conference yesterday, he is a totally committed, indefatigable, intellectual academic whose common touch and humour, when dealing with us non-academics, made medical research seem almost entertaining.
Rebecca, along with my wife Karen and another survivor, Debbie Oliver took it from there as the charity’s trustees. Like three intermingling whirlwinds they have taken BeatSCAD from nothing to a mightily impressive entity. A conference with 111 delegates, from all parts of the UK, at Leicestershire County Cricket Club, bears witness to the footfall achieved. And, with over £25000 raised in their first year and research being pursued at some pace, the future looks good for this laudable charity as well as, of course, for sufferers.