“You have to find a positive from a negative – I’m a firm believer in that,” says 69-year-old Paul Brimble, from Midsomer Norton, well-known locally as the drummer from the band, the Sneakers, and Techniglaze salesman.
Paul has been chosen to feature alongside fourteen-year-old Mark in the British Heart Foundation’s Spring issue of HeartMatters, drum sticks in hand, and appearing on the front cover of the magazine. It deals with the issue of life after a stroke, and both talk about their experiences and recovery and how they view life differently now.
Paul first realised he might be unwell when he was setting up his drum kit, noticing a funny feeling in his wrist. Given his vocation, he didn’t think too much of it, but was advised by a pharmacist to go to the local hospital to have it looked at. It transpired that he had atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm – later being told he had had a stroke as a result, because of the irregular blood flow from the condition causing clots.
This then led to three cardioversions and three ablations to try and bring his heart rhythm back to normal, but nothing worked.
Eventually he was fitted with a pacemaker, which he says “changed my life completely.”
“The whole experience gave me an attitude that life is precious,” he says, now back at work full-time but planning to retire. He also lost nearly three-and-a-half stone through the local Slimming World group and says he now feels better than ever. He is no longer at risk of diabetes and his blood pressure has come down as a result.
Paul was reading the HeartMatters magazine at his mother-in-law’s and was inspired by others’ stories within it. He sent the Editor an email, telling her of his own story and heard back last September, asking if he would be willing to feature.
He says: “I went to London for the interview for HeartMatters at the end of last November, where they also made a video talking about our experiences. I featured alongside Mark, a young animator and writer, who had to relearn to use his hand again after his stroke, caused by an undiagnosed defect in his heart.
“It took around an hour to have enough for the three minute video – they made me feel really important and so many people were needed for it. There were around twelve staff making the video; with cameras and make-up – I really enjoyed the experience.”
Paul formed the Sneakers in 2001 with musicians from different bands around the area and they are still going strong today. His love of the drums came about from 1962 onwards, when he had bought a guitar, but couldn’t learn to play it – turning to rhythm instead!
Paul’s father had a stroke at 64, and a severe stroke at 67, passing away nearly three years later. He saw first hand what it could do and was determined not to let it beat him – so much so, that he went back to his drum kit two weeks later after his first symptoms, being readmitted to hospital at 3 a.m. the following morning.
He said: “My biggest fear was that I would never play again. I have no feeling in the palm of my right hand, and I do lose the odd stick – but I was very lucky considering. Life is good now.”
Readers can view the video via the British Heart Foundation’s website at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-91kqrcs9s
Copies of the HeartMatters magazine, which Paul features in, should also be available at the British Heart Foundation shop in Midsomer Norton.