I’ve always been active and sociable, and since retiring we’ve joined the gardening club and book group. We enjoy getting together with friends to play bridge or just catch-up. With so much more free time there is often an occasion for a drink, or to bake a cake for visitors or the grandchildren. So we were always busy enjoying ourselves!

I started to notice that I needed to take things a bit slower, but my heart attack was still a big shock. I was so relieved to be OK that my diagnosis with heart failure didn’t sink in to start with. But, as I was by no means back to my old self, I started to consider more carefully what the doctors had said. We made some changes – less cake and alcohol – and some gentle walks, but I just couldn’t shake this sort of dull feeling in my head. Not only could I not physically do what I wanted, but my mind seemed to be slowing down too. My husband said I was getting grumpy and that maybe I should talk to my doctor. At my next check-up I mentioned how tired I had been feeling and they said they would do a simple blood test to check my iron. Turns out I don’t have enough iron, for various reasons, so they are treating that, and I’m following the advice on what foods to eat to get more iron.

I have to be realistic about what I can and can’t do now. We have friends over but I can’t chat away like I used to because I get breathless, but if I take it easy we still have fun. I also know I will need to schedule in a rest after any activity – no dashing from one thing to the next anymore!

My husband has adapted to his new role as a carer. At first he would barely let me get out of my chair, but now he realises it is good for me to get up and about – I enjoy telling him what needs doing in the garden though! He’s always liked cooking, so between us we can get everything done, and I still have the strength to do the things together we have always enjoyed.

Since my low iron levels have been treated I feel less groggy and more positive about the future. My husband reminds me to focus on each day, listen to my body and be extremely grateful for the life we have been given.