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‘My life changed forever’ - why Borough Mayor Joe Plant was inspired to choose Healthy Hearts

Mayroress Margaret Plant with husband Mayor Joe Plant (submitted)
Mayroress Margaret Plant with husband Mayor Joe Plant (submitted)

I remember the day I became ill as though it was yesterday. I was 49 years old, it was just another normal working day working in a local garage.

In the afternoon I was feeling a bit dizzy, it got worse as the afternoon wore on.

I rang my wife Margaret and said I was not feeling well and she said I will pick you up and take you to the doctors’.

At the time I just thought I was coming down with a chest infection and not really worried about it. The doctor said they would do an ECG. I was not prepared for what happened next.

Getting blue lighted to hospital was a very scary thing to happen for both my wife and myself. I was actually in tears.

I did not know it at the time but from that day on, my life as I had known it changed forever.

Initially I was getting treated for a chest infection which I thought it was in the first place. I was sent home with medication.

As the week went on Margaret was concerned that I was not getting any better. After a visit to the doctors I was admitted back into hospital.

Again I had no concerns and this time I was getting treated for asthma as this did run in the family.

As time went on, my health deteriorated and this time I got very worried. I was very confused as they could not diagnose me with anything, but I was determined not to let it get me down.

Eventually I was asked, does heart problems run in the family and I said no. But I knew then I had a heart problem. I was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy in 2008. I have been in and out of hospital ever since.

I had a small stroke, been in heart failure a couple of times, had a cardiac arrest and diagnosed with Mitral regurgitation and Atrial fibrillation. I had a defibrillator implant in 2012 and an upgrade to a Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Pacemaker in 2016.

I cannot thank the Heart Consultants, doctors and nurses in Scarborough Hospital, James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, Whitby Hospital and my local GP surgery enough for their tremendous continuous care and support, not just for me but for my family as well and we have nothing but praise for them.

It was life changing and not just for me, but my family as well. I was feeling sorry for myself, angry, frustrated and upset but you are allowed to be, but I was determined not to let it beat me.

With the professional care, family and friends around me, I got through it and eventually I learned to live again.

What more motivation do you need to pick yourself up and move on than seeing your family growing up and grandchildren coming into the world?

I know I am lucky to have survived and I treat every single day as a bonus and I am so happy with what I have got and now I just get on with it and live life to the full.

I had to give up my job, but I am still a local district councillor which I have been for 15 years and on May 17 this year, I am honoured to say I became the Mayor of the Borough of Scarborough.

I have chosen Healthy Hearts as my theme for the year, I will be supporting and raising awareness of local heart nurses delivering patient care, I want to do some fundraising for equipment for them and for the heart rehab team that helps patients along the road to recovery and to look after their health and fitness.

I will be raise awareness of the local British Heart Foundation shops, which thrive thanks to the generosity of local communities and the incredible people who work in them.

I have also set up a Just Giving Page to raise money for British Heart Foundation’s Research. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/scarboroughboroughmayor

I would advise anyone else who is going through an illness, please don’t give up, don’t say you can’t do it, be determined and if you can, do it. Do it.