Everything bleeds.

I’m going to create a new noun, it feels like that sort of week. A new word that describes what seems to be happening to me so much since my heart attack. Ladies and Gentlemen may I present to you ‘barnie’.

Just so it can start being used correctly by everyone from the outset, I thought I would provide it in a similar manner to the way that the Oxford English Dictionary would in order to have the grammatical context. I always find that sort of thing helps.

“Barnie (bär′nē) [noun] an injury appearing as an area of discoloured skin on the body as a result of the rupturing of underlying blood vessels for absolutely no apparent reason whatsoever.”

If I may, before the doubters and naysayers begin to take offence as seems to be so prevalent with the current snowflake generation. Before they say that what I am describing is in fact a ‘bruise’, a word which has been perfectly suitable for the English language since the twelfth century. Before all of that silliness starts, I need to point out that a bruise happens when you walk into a wardrobe or a bookcase or a wall, whilst a ‘barnie’ happens for absolutely no reason. No bloody reason whatsoever as far as I can make out. None.

I’ve never been someone that bleeds. I am the guy who the nurses at the blood donation clinic ask not to return, not because of some rare infectious sub tropical blood infection. No, just because it is too difficult to find a vein to place the cannula into. That’s me. And to think I only used to go for the free biscuits and half of Guinness at the end. In the old days, if I was cut my body would do its best to give the impression that I had 8 pints of blood in it, but it wouldn’t be that good an impression, it would never be invited back for a second audition and you could be excused for thinking that I was some kind of bloodless android. I’m not by the way.

Well not anymore. Boy do I bleed, I positively spurt at the faintest opportunity. I spray. And it doesn’t stop. It just keeps coming. I’ve thought of talking to BP about getting them to sponsor me because I can’t be too dissimilar to an oil gusher. They are interested, but because of Deepwater Horizon I’ll probably give it a miss this time.

I’ve also never really bruised. I used to find this a real bonus because I am really clumsy and bruising easily would have shown just how clumsy I am. In the old days the world was none the wiser. Bruising was what happened to peaches or Jackie.

How things change. And not for the good. Now I bruise at the drop of a hat. Actually now I bruise from the draft of the drop of a hat. I bruise from being within 2m of anything that could possibly cause a bruise, even if it is round a corner in another room.

So why the bruising and torrent like bleeding? Well it all comes down to the drugs. I’ve talked before about the drugs that I am on and two specific ones have caused this rather ‘desirable’ side effect. They are the antiplatelet drugs – Ticagrelor and Asprin.

Platelets are cells that are responsible for blood clotting. Normally this is pretty useful, if you cut yourself it stops you from bleeding too much. But with heart disease platelets are trouble makers. Real rabble rousers. A heart attack happens when plaque (a combination of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances) builds up in the arteries that feed your heart. If the plaque ruptures then your body tries to clot around the rupture and it uses platelets to form the clot. The clot can block the artery and could prevent blood from reaching your heart muscles. With no blood supply the cells in the heart muscle would be starved of oxygen and would start to die, and in some cases this could cause heart failure.

So what antiplatelet drugs do is to reduce the chance of a heart attack by stopping excessive clotting in the arteries by preventing the platelets from sticking together to form a blood clot. They effectively stop the platelets from doing what they are meant to.

Sounds good? Well it is most of the time. And to be fair the bonus of not having another heart attack does have its upsides, but the side effects of the antiplatelet drugs are that you bruise far more easily and more often and sometimes from only the smallest of knocks. If any knock at all. And when you bleed it just keeps on coming, which is a real shock if you aren’t used to bleeding or you forgot to warn the health assistant who was taking your bloods. Oh, and the other really serious side effect is that all of a sudden the world realises what you have known for ages. That you are clumsy. Super clumsy.

So the next time that you find that you have a bruise that seems to have no apparent cause could I ask that you to call it a ‘barnie’. I reckon it could catch on. And if it did, that would be really peachy.

‘It’s cold outside…’

There are a few aspects to being mortal that I’m not enjoying that much if I am honest.

Some things that the nice people in the hospital don’t tell you and a few facts that the cardiac rehabilitation team fail to mention in the ‘FAQ’ handout that they give you on day one.

And when I say ‘mortal’ I really mean ‘normal’ and when I say ‘normal’ I really mean ‘not someone who has ridiculously high blood pressure, high cholesterol, is stressed to buggery, hardly sleeps and thinks having an Aloo Gobi with their curry constitutes a balanced diet.’

And the things that they don’t tell you are the changes that happen to you after a heart attack. Not the emotional changes, not the processing that your brain needs to go through. Because that is massive, well it’s massive for me, my brain has only just got used to the fact that the 80’s hasn’t gone on forever and that Maggie isn’t P.M., let alone the fact that I am almost 50 and have had someone rooting around in my heart with what felt like a pipe cleaner. For me it feels as if that processing is going to take some more time and I’m not sure I’m ready to write about that yet.

No, it’s not the emotional changes. It’s the physical ones. The fact that in the real world it’s bloody cold. All of the time. Always.

Since my heart attack my favourite and most used piece of clothing has become a black Berghaus fleece. ‘Bergy’ and I have become inseparable. Well I’m not sure a garment that is 100% polyester is actually capable of emotional feelings at any level, but I certainly don’t go anywhere without it. And it seems to be on virtually all of the time. It’s even on now as I write this. It’s become almost like a comforter to me, a bit like those things that young kids have that mean provided that they have it with them then their parents can take them anywhere. A bit like Freya’s ‘Oshie’. Oshie was our daughter’s toy bear that went everywhere with her, everywhere that is until I left it on the Eurostar on the way to Euro Disney in 2007 and it hasn’t gone anywhere with her since. If Freya is reading this I am still so very sorry about that sweetheart. Bergy is my Oshie, only I’m 49 and Freya was 6.

I’m not sure it’s ever been clinically proven that high blood pressure makes you hot or warm. There are schools of thought that high blood pressure manifests itself in a physical form by redness of the face and in unusual levels of sweating, but little has been written about a correlation between body heat and blood pressure. And those symptoms are also synonymous with so many other things.

What is apparent though is that some of the drugs that are used to treat a heart attack have side effects. They don’t really tell you about those and they are certainly not on any handout I’ve received so far. Amongst the 66,000 tablets I will have to take, I am on Bisoprolol which is a beta blocker, Ramipril which is an A.C.E inhibitor and Asprin. And these do exactly what they say on the tin. Well exactly what they say on the box anyway. Beta blockers reduce or block the impact of adrenaline which means the heart beats more slowly and with less force leading to lower blood pressure. A.C.E. inhibitors can reduce the activity of an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme, or A.C.E. for short and this causes the relaxation of blood vessels as well as a decrease in blood volume, which also leads to lower blood pressure. Whilst Asprin thins the blood and prevents clotting.

In thinning the blood and lowering blood pressure these three tablets also have a side effect and that is that the extremities of the body, the fingers, the hands, the toes and the feet become cold. They feel the cold more. For me that feeling also seems to extend to the rest of my body. This effect seems to be more pronounced in me, because prior to my attack I was always so warm. Rarely did I wear coats out and as far as I was concerned hats and gloves were for losers. Berghaus was where the guy who wrote ‘Lady in Red’ lived.

This feeling of coldness was one of the immediate things that I noticed after the attack. There are many other side effects of the drugs and I’ll write about them separately, but in the ‘normal’ world that you guys live in and which I now seem to inhabit it’s cold. Really cold.

I wonder if you can get a Berghaus on prescription. They don’t tell you about that either on those handouts.