For most of us, the thought of 11 hospital visits resulting in 52 weeks off work is frightening enough, but for career-driven mother of two Karen, this was her reality.
“We were down south for a wedding and I just wasn't feeling right. The next day, I realised my heart was racing and was still racing the next day.” Karen says her
concerns grew as her heart continued to race. She decided to visit a pharmacist to have her blood pressure and heart rate checked.
“It kept coming up with errors on the machine. So, he suggested going to my GP, which I did, and my GP phoned a cardiologist who said ‘Go to the hospital and we'll have to do a cardioversion’."
Karen was admitted to the hospital that very afternoon and was diagnosed with atrial flutter, an arrhythmia. As an HBF member, Karen received a vital electrical cardioversion the next morning, avoiding lengthy hospital wait times.
Being with HBF meant Karen had the luxury of being able to be treated by the doctor of her choice, at her preferred hospital, which alleviated pressure on her family and gave her the comfort she needed, knowing she was in familiar hands.
Six weeks passed and Karen was starting to feel like her old self again until one night whilst home alone her heart began to race again. Having been in this situation before, a nervous Karen made a call to a health support line and after being assessed was swiftly taken to hospital.
When Karen arrived at the hospital her doctor sat down and said 'Look, we need to get these arrhythmias under control. I suggest that you don't go to work until we can get things sorted.'
For Karen, being told by her doctor that she was unable to return to work had the greatest impact of all.
“I've always been quite a career-focused person. So, when your body says, ‘No you can't do this anymore,’ it does make you look at yourself and who you are and what defines you, particularly when I had thoughts of, will I get back to work? Won't I?”
Over the next 13 months, Karen focused on her recovery.
“I needed ‘me’ time. I needed to make sure that I had the time to do the exercise that I needed to do, I had time to prepare super healthy meals, and that I focused on what was needed to keep me healthy."
Despite the health battles and ups and downs Karen faced over that 13 months, she is grateful for the lessons she learned along the way.
“You never know what's around the corner, so even though it's been a horrid experience, it has really made me totally focused on my life. The changes I've made might make me live to a hundred. Who knows?”
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