A Message From Our Chairman
Hello and welcome to Upbeat.
It is great to know that you are taking the time to dip into our web site. Whatever the reason we hope that we can help you in some way, give you food for thought and make your use of the time spent worthwhile.
Upbeat started 15 years ago when the Cardiac Rehabilitation team at West Suffolk Hospital decide to try to set up an exercise and support group to follow on from the six week in-hospital cardiac rehabilitation programme. The idea was to encourage heart patients and their carers to continue their resolutions for a healthier life-style and to befriend and help each other after the end of the course.
The suggestion was put forward, invitations sent out and, with the support of the British Heart Foundation, Local Council, Hospital Cardiac Nurses, a Physiotherapist, an Exercise Instructor and nine former patients with their carers, the group was formed. It is important to say that from that day forward, we never looked back, quickly becoming established. The numbers almost immediately began to grow as there was obviously a need to fill the gap. The original nine members became the first Committee, a constitution was put in place and Upbeat was born. In spite of their own cardiac problems the original Committee remained in place for the first nine years. We expanded and set up exercise classes, nurse support and coffee sessions in different areas, frantically raising funds to cover our costs. It was the strength and dedication of that group, believing so much in what we were doing, that gave us the very strong base and ethos that we follow today. Understanding and helping people to get through problems similar to our own and having the time and patience to listen was the key.
The reason that you are looking at the site may be that, only recently, you or someone in your family may have been diagnosed with some sort of Cardiac or related problem. Whatever it is, be it chest pains, heart attack, heart murmur, valve problems, as well as others, you will be understandably concerned and almost certainly frightened, as will the members of your family. It may even be an old problem such as angina or breathlessness that has resurfaced. Have you told anybody or are you hoping it will go away?
The Psychological aspects of heart problems can be profound. These feelings often come as a huge and disturbing surprise, especially to those who have been ‘High Flyers’, confident and well in control of their lives. The sudden fear, lack of confidence, depression, anger and ‘why me’ may be totally out of character. Sudden mood changes, tiredness and problems with marital relationships can certainly be very upsetting. People are often afraid of losing their jobs or have gone back to work, often finding that it was not as easy as they thought. Coping with a computer, telephones or meetings can, and I quote ‘do your head in’. Sometimes, if it is a return of a problem, it will be ‘I told you so’, either talking to yourself or being told by others you have done too much, not eaten properly, not exercised enough or even started to smoke again. We do live in a blame culture. Some of this may be deserved but a little help from your friends in a group like ours is invaluable. On the other hand you may be one of the lucky ones where, in spite of everything, all is going well for you. You have very little heart damage, you have had a stent to clear a blockage, you have been able to take regular exercise and, with even more good luck, you have managed to reduce stress levels. We are all different and understanding others is very important.
I became Chairman 6 years ago. Why have I become so dedicated to Upbeat? My husband and I, due largely to our genetic backgrounds and through no fault of our own, have had a serious and seemingly unending series of heart problems over a number of years, including my husband losing two younger brothers. Over these years, at different times, I have been both patient and carer. Having to retire from teaching suddenly I found myself extremely lonely and without support. I longed to talk to someone who would really understand what being unable to lead a normal life for two years was like and it was a very low time. During this period I decided that, if I got well enough, I would try to find a way of helping others through. I suddenly, after rehabilitation, found that I had this unexpected chance of getting going with this group. I took it with both hands. How those 15 years have rolled by.
I believe totally in Upbeat. It is a professional, well-managed support group with highly trained staff giving advice on medical matters and running exercise classes at various levels. Some psychological and self-help support with plenty of time to listen is all-important. Health education and gentle trips back into the ‘real’ world help those who have found the change particularly difficult. Giving confidence is all important to try to give the members the possibility of a return to a better quality of life and a more relaxed life-style, whatever their age. It is always a comfort to know there is help and a chat round the corner.
This is Upbeat and we will help where we can. In our case membership and our twice- yearly magazine are free. Maybe there is a group near you or perhaps you could start your own.
Positive thinking and a good laugh now and then is very important! Try it.
Upbeat Heart Support Group - Chairmans Message