Fazeley Mayor Simon Clements speaks out about the dangers of smoking after having a double heart bypass operation last week.
"I SMOKED for 34 years, I worked 80-hour weeks. I had a penchant for burgers and I drank endless coffees and energy drinks to keep me going..." Simon Clements firmly believes that it was his unhealthy lifestyle that resulted in him needing a double heart bypass.
The Fazeley mayor underwent a SIX-HOUR operation at the University Hospital of Coventry last week, during which surgeons removed a vein from his leg to repair his damaged heart.
Back home in Wilnecote, he has an eight-inch scar down his chest and a scar from ankle to thigh on one leg where the vein was removed.
He is sometimes short of breath and has been told that he must spend the next 12 weeks doing nothing, just recovering from his major surgery.
Simon had his first heart attack when he was 35 and then a more severe one in March this year, after which doctors told him of the seriousness of his situation.
Luckily his double heart bypass was a success, although he was rushed back into intensive care two days later when his lungs collapsed. At one point he was hooked up to 40 different monitors.
He said: "There are no heart problems in our family – in fact all our family are long-lived, so I put my heart attack down to my lifestyle. I had been smoking for 34 years, I had the stress of working very long hours, I was eating all the wrong foods and eating at the wrong time of day.
"I ran two security companies, I would come home after a 15-hour day, go to bed at 9pm and be up again a 4.20am in the morning, seven days a week.
"Breakfast would be five fags and three coffees.
"I stopped smoking when I had the heart attack. A friend brought me an E-cigarette and I have been using that and it's brilliant. I've switched the energy drinks for pineapple juice.
"I have been told to do nothing for the first few weeks except to stand up every two hours. I'm on incredibly strong painkillers. Coughing is like being shot and even the effort of cleaning my teeth hurts!"
"I started smoking when I was 14. Obviously I am not suggesting that everyone who smokes will have a heart attack, there's a lot more to it than that, but if my story stops one person smoking, it will be a good thing."
And he says that once he has recovered, he will be willing to speak to local school pupils about his story.
"All 14-year-olds think they're invincible – I just hope that if an invincible 14-year-old sees me like this – and realises I'm only 48, they might think twice about smoking."