I thought, I’m running anyway, so why not run for team heart? That was how I got involved in last year’s Team Heart v Team Lungs virtual running challenge, I thought it was a great idea. When it came up again this year it was an easy decision. Last year’s challenge was great to be a part of and easy too. You feel part of a team and there’s no pressure on the distance you run, walk, bike or whatever you choose to do, you just add your total to your team’s.

The T-shirt that I received made me feel proud when I wore it on my runs around our village. I also set up a fundraising page, again easy to do and a small way of giving back to the amazing Royal Brompton Hospital and to say “thank you” for everything they have done and continue to do, for my husband John. I’m looking forward to Saturday 3rd April and starting to add my running miles for Team Heart 2.0!

Our journey with The Royal Brompton started in December 2016. Several months earlier we received a phone call from the consultant looking after John at The John Radcliffe where he had been a patient for about 25 years. He had concerns over a recent scan, he wanted to refer John to The Royal Brompton as he felt additional expertise was necessary. A daunting prospect…

We met with Professor Cheshire and he talked us through the complex surgery that John would face. John had been concerned that the surgery would not be possible, but Professor Cheshire assured us that although complicated was achievable and that along with another surgeon Mr. Mireskandari and their team they would plan to do it in the coming few months.

At the beginning of May 2017 John went into The Brompton for surgery as planned. Professor Cheshire had promised to update me as soon as John’s surgery was over and he did. I was very grateful that such a busy man did this, in fact he continued to be in touch both day and night as John needed several visits to theatre. Professor Cheshire had said this may be necessary; he was very honest but at the same time very reassuring.

John then required a three week stay in ITU. All of the staff in the unit were amazing. The receptionists who had to phone me as John was demanding, (during his hallucinations!) the nurses who were always by John’s bed reassuring me and explaining various tubes & machines whilst doing their very difficult and busy jobs.

In total John spent 8 weeks in the hospital, progressing from ITU to HDU and eventually to the regular ward. So many people were involved in his care and recovery and they were always encouraging us, explaining what was happening and including me in John’s rehabilitation. This included doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and the porters who took John for various scans. There was “sunshine therapy” allowing John to get fresh air during his long stay in ITU during the hot summer of 2017. Walks along the corridors and eventually walks out into the park, which were very welcome for John but it was very scary for me to see John away from the safety of the hospital ward.

I could write so much more about what the staff did for John & the many, many people involved in his care, (and indeed in supporting me), but this blog would go on for ever!

John was allowed home at the end of June 2017 - with a record kept, (in diary form), by the nurses involved in his care on ICU. Just another special and very appreciated touch. We cannot praise The Royal Brompton and its staff enough for the amazing world class care that John has and continues to receive. We know that John will probably require further surgery and though scary we know that he will be in the very best hands.

These are the many reasons why I’m running for Team Heart again this year, just a small way for me to say a huge “thank you” to this very special place, a place who has cared for & continues to care for a very special person to me.

You can join Karen on Team Heart this April or sign up for Team Lungs. Whichever team you join, you’ll be helping to raise funds for patients and staff at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals. Sign up for Heart vs Lungs 2.0 and remember that whoever wins is up to you.