I lived for the nerve-shredding rollercoaster of Westminster. But the stress got under my skin, and into my blood
It is a kilometre from my front door in Brighton to the local park, all downhill. A 45-year-old man, jogging not very fast, should be able to complete the journey without stopping; without fighting for breath; without feeling sick. Also, he should not be assailed by dread, feeling that the universe has suddenly turned a shade darker, soured, curled at the edges.
That is how I knew something was very wrong on New Year’s Eve 2019. It was around 2pm and I had made it three-quarters of the way when something detonated behind my ribs. The pain was familiar at first. Tediously so. I would often get a tight, burning sensation across my chest when running. It slowed me down but never stopped me in my tracks. I would get home panting too hard for words, my face flashing red and white. “Are you all right?” my wife would ask. “Yeah… just… gimme… a… second.” I thought that was normal in a man my age. Exercise was supposed to hurt a bit, and I took the pain in my chest as a barometer of unfitness. Breathing that doesn’t burn was a luxury for the younger man, I thought. But I had angina and called it middle age.