AHEAD of Valentine’s Day, a cardiac physiologist has shared her story of a broken heart.
Katherine Collins works at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, caring for people who have heart problems.
But the 35-year-old, who lives in Gosport, has more reason than most to empathise with her patients – she has been living with a pacemaker for the past nine years.
She said: ‘Fixing broken hearts is what we do here, so I understand what it’s like from the other side.
‘I like to talk to all my patients very openly about my own experience and to tell them that having a pacemaker isn’t the end of your life – it’s the start of your future.’
Katherine suffered from dizzy spells and blackouts from when she was a teenager, but it was only when she started working on a cardiac ward at the age of 26 that the cause was found.
Having a pacemaker isn’t the end of your life – it’s the start of your futureKatherine Collins
She said: ‘I decided to try wearing a heart monitor for 24 hours, in order to better understand what it feels like for patients.
‘I was shocked when I was taken aside the following day by a colleague and told that I would need a pacemaker.’
Katherine discovered she had ventricular standstill, a condition that can stop her heart beating.
Her first pacemaker was fitted soon after and she had a replacement put in last September by heart specialists at QA.
Katherine said: ‘It was scary even for someone who knows quite a lot about it, but ultimately I think that made me a better person. I initially had mixed feelings about being operated on by my colleagues, but I can’t think of anyone I would trust more.
‘The experience I had as a patient here was fantastic, and I know that it wasn’t because I work here.
‘I see the care that our cardiac patients get and I think it’s second-to-none.’
Katherine’s main duty is to carry out cardiac ultrasounds. She said: ‘I definitely think that my own experience has made me better at my job.’
Katherine said she would spend Valentine’s Day with Mark, her husband of six years.
She explained: ‘To be honest, we don’t celebrate it that much, but we’re going to the cinema to see Deadpool because we’re both comic book fans.’