Heart of the Matter

The temptation in authoring a blog like this is to only write about the good times, when everything comes together and is ‘just right’.

View from South Arm.

View from South Arm.

As we all know life isn’t a bit like that, being instead full of ups and downs on a regular basis. Its the severity of the low times that make the highs so high and exclusively writing about them is only telling half the story. Its the contrast that matters. That and overcoming adversity is the sweetest satisfaction to be had in this life. This is what I will write about.

In this vein I now write of the darkness that has recently come into my life so that you may also share this part of the journey with me.

It seems as though I’ve been born with a genetic disposition for heart trouble. More specifically, heart valve trouble. My Mum and Dad both had heart problems of a similar nature in their more senior years and now its my turn it seems.

Now, you mention heart troubles to some people and all they hear is ‘heart attack’. Not true, not a bit.

I became aware of some problems over a month ago following a party where much salubrious entertainments were enjoyed amidst copious wine consumption. Thereafter I become aware of irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and low energy. I reported these symptoms to a medical centre staffer and it was like a red flashing light had been switched on. Before you could say ‘Ambulance’ I was in one and heading to hospital.

Jabbed, Tagged and Bagged.

View of Left Arm.

The initial diagnosis was Atrial Fibrillation, an apparently common complaint among people of all ages after such partying. This looks like the upper and lower chambers of the heart are no longer beating in synch. Of course this would be a happy ending had it been the end of it however this was not to be so. Whilst captured by the hospital system my heart rhythms came under the close scrutiny of Hobart’s shining medical stars and something unusual was detected.

A painfully long ultrasound examination confirmed that I had a leaky aorta valve that was doing very little of what it was designed to do. On the ultrasound screen it had all the appearance of a rag flapping in the breeze, failing to close and allow blood to be pumped into the arteries.

After enduring an angiogram it was decided that I had an 80% chance of repair to the valve being effective upon open heart surgery. Failing that, an artificial one would be employed to carry out the task. That sounds like pretty good odds to me as with a straight repair I will need to take very little additional medicine to keep me healthy for the rest of my days. If this didn’t work out and I need an artificial valve then I will need to take blood thinners for as long as I am breathing.

Surgery could be in as little as a fortnight’s time and to be honest I am a little nervous about it all. Having your heart stopped, your rib cage cut open and exposed like a slaughtered beast is giving me some discomfort. On the plus side these types of operations (and worse) are conducted on a daily basis with extremely high rates of success.

Despite this adversity I have much to be thankful for. My good partner Dini has been a tower of strength, support and a sympathetic ear when I needed it throughout these difficult times. The move to Hobart too has been fortunate in that I am that much closer to medical services and socialisation than locked away down in Kettering as I did last winter. Lucky too that I was not in the middle of an ocean somewhere when these symptoms made themselves noticed… brought on perhaps by a spell of rough conditions involving exertion and deprivation. Now that would have been scary.

Will keep you posted re: developments from here.


Inside MONA gallery

Inside MONA gallery

And now, on a lighter note………….

And so the fun continues…. winter is Brass Monkey time in Tassy but the people and entertainments in this the most southern of Australian cities just keeps rockin’.

It seems the fun never stops with world class events like Dark Mofo, Festival of Voices and Taste Tasmania all rolling through Hobart during wintertime and attracting huge crowds of tourists and locals alike. Its a vibrant active city with a heart that pulses; by day with business and shops and by night with restaurants and live entertainments.

There is a vibe here that seems lost in the concrete caverns of big cities. People will go out to have fun here no matter how cold or miserable the weather might seem and there is always something to do.

Freespirit @ RYCT Marina

Freespirit @ RYCT Marina

Freespirit is snug in her new berth at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania Marina. Happy, safe and content to wait out the winter till warmer weather brings some more adventure and fun times. So too my beloved Suzuki GSX1400 awaits more suitable riding weather, although I have been tempted to take her out occasionally just the same.

At the Night Owl

At the Night Owl

There is a saying here in Tasmania which goes, there is no bad weather….. only inappropriate clothing…. and so I put on a couple of extra layers before venturing out.

I am playing music a lot now and enjoying every moment of it. Aside from my regular Irish gigs at the New Sydney Hotel in town I also now attend a monthly ‘Kitchen Party’ with others of like mind at a good friends house.



These parties are similar to the Canadian ones I had the good fortune to be a part of whilst over there. Basically everyone brings and item of food and their choice of instrument along. Following the feast the night is spent singing songs and laughing. Lots of both. In addition to these there is now a regular monthly gig at a late night club in town and a Bluegrass get together also once a month at a members home.

Dini snowballing me.

Dini snowballing me.

Hobart is a vibrant place full of life, optimism and enthusiasm where everyone who can, joins in. The music scene here also reflects this with a huge variety of musical styles and entertainments available on a free or low cost basis.

Snow on the top of Mt Wellington.

Snow on the top of Mt Wellington.

For a casual player like me the choice is overwhelming and its easy to see why many people come here to retire from the mainland…..very easy indeed.
More later…

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Heart of the Matter

  1. voni mann says:

    hey col, sorry to hear your troubles and happy they have a remedy and that you are in a region you are content with. you have had lovely adventures with your little lady Free Spirit and i’m so glad you did that journey…would have been even worse if you had discovered this inherent heart problem whilst driving TRUCK…..and not have begun your journey..so glad you’ve found musical connections and also a worthy mate. hugs.

  2. Victor & Kristy says:

    Hi Colin

    Thanks for sharing.  You know Kristy & I will be keeping you in our thoughts.   Your writing skills as always tell us the story and facts all rolled into one.   I think Hobart, Dini, and your wonderful music was meant to be.  You’re in the right hands my friend.

    Take care

    Vic & Kristy

    • freespirit52 says:

      Thank you Vic and Kristy, you both too are in my thoughts a lot. Particularly when I play music…. which is often. Yes, it feels like I’m being loved and looked after here and that is wonderful.

  3. t2 says:

    Good to hear that you are on top of things. You are constantly in my thoughts. Both Jo and I discuss you daily. Leave the op to the experts as you did the Dodge r on the boat. We cant all fix everything ourselves. Im positive that you will be ok. Don’t worry about the op. Worry about me coming down in December!!!!!!

  4. Greg Shakeshaft says:

    Hi Colin

    I’ve just today returned from my UK trip and working my way through the hundreds of emails I came across the notification of your blog update. I read it with a heavy heart but your positive outlook along with words of encouragement from all your friends together with the knowledge that you are in the safest place and doing all the things you love fills me with positive thoughts and I know that if anyone can rise to the challenge and overcome this latest hurdle… It is YOU!!

    Take care and whilst I am sure you have much on your mind right now, Just keep singing and laughing and enjoying yourself as I am convinced that will do more for your good health than anything else.

    Cheers, Greg

    • freespirit52 says:

      Hi Greg, welcome back to the land of the long weekend! Thanks for those words of encouragement and well wishing. If all goes well there should only be another weeks wait until the op and then recovery following that.

      Great to have you back mate!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s