H is for Hearts #atozchallenge

For the last two years I’ve joined in the #atozchallenge, namely to post every weekday in April using each letter of the alphabet in turn. In 2015 it was places I’d been to, in 2016 it was London themed. This year it is a dictionary of my family, recounting incidents small and large that have taught me lessons down the years, caused me consternation or generally seared themselves into my memory.  I hope you enjoy them. To find other bloggers doing the challenge and maybe be inspired yourself, check out the A to Z Blogging Challenge Blog, here

If there’s one thing that crops up in medicals it’s the family heart. Or heart history.  We seem to have a bit of a thing about heart issues. Both mum and dad were on Warfarin at the back end of their lives both needing some sort of jump start to try and correct atrial fibrillation – this thumping electro shock treatment is called cardioversion but sounds more like a style of buttoned up knitwear. Dad found it funny that he was voluntarily ingesting rat poison to keep himself alive. In addition my mother had high blood pressure – she took so many tablets she rattled – and my uncle had angina and other heart related issues. There’s definitely a thing in our bloodline.

So it was that I was sent for a medical when offered a partnership at my law firm and asked about family health issues. I’d not put two and two together – I’d just turned 30 and felt as fit as several small jumping insects – and was surprised when they suggested I had an ECG. ‘Just a precaution, Mr Le Pard’ he said with a face like a Wet Wednesday in Wensleydale.

There’s this training doctors have to go through, which is probably why medical training is 5 years. It’s all to do with facial contortions. They have to have off-pat a set of expressive warnings that all patients are hardwired to comprehend – they mimic those of our primate ancestors who, when living in trees, needed to be able to warn others that flesh eating chewopods were grazing on the jungle floor without actually making any noise. It takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to learn and this medic was an expert in the imparting-terror-through-eyebrows technique. This particular grimace-cum-frown combo told me that, while death wasn’t guaranteed it was as close as made no difference.

I like to think of myself as calm, stoic even but deep down I have a distinct leaning towards hypochondria. That comes from my paternal grandmother who lived to a decent age (92 from memory) but suffered from any number of vague or generalised aches and ailments – rheumatics, short breath, digestiveness and, of course, bowels (movements and/or lack thereof).

No darling, I’m fine, really, just having a touch of the martyrs…

I sat, shifting uncomfortably for what I assumed would be challenging if not downright bad news. He had urine samples and blood tests as well as lung function and, of goodness knows. He smiled; I imagine Dracula smiled. Why do they assume that helps? It’s bloody words I needed not gestures.


Oh for pity’s sake, how long have I got?

‘Your heart is fine. Dandy even. All the pointers suggest you are a healthy young man.”

Ok, pendulum definitely on the uptick.



‘Your Uris acid levels are enhanced.’

Drrrh? ‘What’s that mean?’

The doctor  did his best to keep a straight face. ‘You may have a tendency to gout.’

Gout. I mean that’s for old men and port drinkers. Still if that was the extent of the problems I think I was going to be okay.

In fact my friends and work colleagues thought it funny. After all who considers gout at 30? I told mum, thinking she’d find it funny too.

‘Your uncle has gout. It’s very painful. Maybe it’s hereditary.’

Suddenly I wasn’t laughing anymore. Teddles, my uncle did suffer later on especially but unlike me he was truly stoic.

Teddles, a superhero if ever there was one…

I’ve kept a watch on these acid levels ever since. And my heart. And prostate (dad’s cancer was prostate). And blood pressure (mum’s). And arthritis. Oh and all sorts. I’m a regular at these check up thingies you can get. I’m always wondering if the latest creak or bulge or ache is the precursor to something fatal.

At least, with google I can self diagnose… or be like mum and just get on with it…

mum with a baby Punch… oh and the bump? That’s me…



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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34 Responses to H is for Hearts #atozchallenge

  1. Ritu says:

    You’ve done well His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That bump was you…sweet. We are all a mess of our genetic components, good on you to have those things checked out…and then, like your mum, deal with it and move on…always wise !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anytime I don’t feel Well I have to hide the Google…. or bad thing happen 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Could you link to your other AtoZ posts in each post or does that sound too much like work? 😉 I can look… Just trying to catch up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Em Linthorpe says:

    Ahh, that fine line between hypochondria and sensibility…exactly what I just wrote about! Sounds like you’ve got it down to a tee and taking good care of yourself 🙂 love the family snaps!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    I love the photo of your mum and puppy Punch , is she carrying a box of fairy! Gout is very nasty, my 96yr mother in law and Henry the eighth both suffers! Great post Geoff my mum always said the creaking door lasts longest! 😉🤗


  7. Dino says:

    I wish you a healthy life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Heart, hypochondria, heredity – you got your money’s worth out of H 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rowena says:

    Sometimes, you wish it was hypochondria after all. Neither of my severe chronic illnesses were taken seriously until they’d become advanced and life-threatening. Not that I’m trying to steal your thunder. I rememb er a doctor writing “vague symptoms” on a blood test request and that was for the harbour inside my head. Not so vague after all.
    On the heart front, there’s some been good news. My grandmother had open heart surgery and told me in no uncertain turns what it felt like having your chest sawn open not thinking that oneday I might find myself on the operating table. Anyway, I saw that there’s a new procedure where they can replace a valve without open heart surgery. The bad news in Australia, is that they only want to have one specialist do the procedure when doctors are recommending a team of two.
    Nothing to worry about. The Govt is taking a wait and see approach.
    xx Ro

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Good old governments. They always think of people before money! Yes my flippant post shouldn’t minimise the sort of health horrors you have confronted. And I hope to keep my interactions with health professionals to a minimum so I’m not disappointed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rowena says:

        I am used to living off the charts with those conditions and largely they’re behaving themselves and been for the last three years, excluding the winter bugs. I am actually leading an almost normal life. There’s just the odd ripple to remind me of my human frailties.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        That’s what we want to hear.


  10. Step away from the dreaded Google!
    I am always scaring myself to death with one thing or anothe rafter checking out my ‘symptoms’ on Google only to wish I hadn’t!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. drkottaway says:

    As a physician, I would say the difficulty is turning off the scary faces when I am not working. After all those hours of training, it’s so ingrained. The latest on atrial fibrillation is a series of studies saying that the risk is dose related to alcohol: the more one drinks, the sooner the rat poison. I found this a little sobering.

    Liked by 1 person

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