Songs in the key of life

18th June 2018

This article is taken from our April issue of My Life magazine. You can read the whole magazine here, or to subscribe to receive a free copy via email or post please sign up here.

Jane Gibson, 75, from the West Country, tells Cardiomyopathy UK how taking a holistic approach to her wellbeing helps her to lead a ‘deeply fulfilling’ life

Being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with obstruction in November 2016 came as a huge shock to retired musician Jane Gibson, who has since found ways to adapt her lifestyle while waiting for an ICD implant.

Living alone, Jane’s family and friends were subjected to frequent and prolonged phone calls as she felt the need to talk about her condition.

“They were loving and generous in their listening and this helped me in processing the diagnosis, which was finally confirmed after what seemed like endless periods of waiting for both the various tests and their results,” she recalls.

As she gradually came to terms with the diagnosis and its implications, HOCM started to become more of a companion than a threatening invader and Jane began to take back control of her life.

“Becoming more informed through Cardiomyopathy UK’s excellent literature was invaluable at this time and I became determined to take responsibility for living well,” she says.

However, the tiredness and at times, sheer exhaustion, were utterly overwhelming and a two-hour afternoon nap was a daily necessity. And despite a determination to ‘live well’ Jane was constrained by two overriding symptoms -tiredness and a restricted walking capacity - no more hills!

But after joining a seated Tai Chi class and practising the Chi Kung energy-building exercises most days,

Jane began to get more energy and now rarely needs an afternoon sleep.

She also attends a seated yoga class, which helps to reduce her stress levels, as well as improve her flexibility, and still walks every day, enjoying finding new ‘flat and downhill’ routes for variety.

Living in stunning countryside near the sea, she is spoilt for choice. “But I do have to pace myself,” she admits, “and try to alternate a physical activity with something more sedentary.”

The physical and psychological benefits of singing are well known and as a member of two local choirs, Jane is a walking testament to its positive effects.

“I find the weekly rehearsals are an uplifting highlight of my week and I further indulge my lifelong passion for music and regularly play the piano. “I also enjoy socialising with family and friends and being involved in the local community.”

Jane also tries to adhere to an unprocessed diet to maximise good nutrition as part of a holistic approach to her wellbeing.

“I was sleeping two hours a day on top of six to seven hours’ uninterrupted sleep at night. But being on the waiting list for an implant gave me time to learn about my condition and about how doing little things each day can really help. Now my life is deeply fulfilling and each day, very precious.”