Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke
Rachel’s Story

NICHS’s Red Dress Run will be my first 5k. Even though I go to the gym a lot, I haven’t run much before. The race has a special meaning for me though. I am doing it because of my mum, Julie.

Mum has had heart problems for a while. It’s affected her life in practical ways as she gets tired easily. We have a dog and she can’t take it for a walk. And if we are on holiday, then she can’t go sightseeing. She doesn’t have the stamina for it.

But the biggest impact of her heart problems came just before Christmas. Mum went into the Royal for an angiogram which showed she needed stents. The doctors tried twice to get the stents in but one artery was 100% blocked and it was more difficult than expected. Eventually, though, they got two stents in.

But there were complications in what is normally a routine procedure. Mum started to have internal bleeding from the femoral artery in her groin. It caused a retroperitoneal haematoma, which is an accumulation of blood in part of the abdominal cavity. It was a 1 in 5000 chance of this happening. She was rushed back to the RVH and needed three blood transfusions. She was seriously ill. It was a very scary time. Thankfully once the blood was in, she started to come round.

Mum got home in time for Christmas and we all chipped in to help. Having been taken into hospital so unexpectedly, she’d not had time for Christmas shopping but me and my sister didn’t mind. Her health was more important. Cooking Christmas dinner was a team effort with Mum supervising and telling us all what to do!

She’s still recovering. Even though the internal bleeding was in her groin, Mum has had problems with her leg since. She can’t drive yet and has problems walking. It’s still hard for her to get around but she’s getting there.

I am so thankful that Mum is on the mend though, but I am also determined to do what I can to avoid heart disease. I already go to the gym and will continue to exercise, eat healthily and look out any signs and symptoms in myself. I’d urge everyone to do that…and take part in the Red Dress Run!

 

Find out more about the cardiac support services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.