Since having a massive heart attack, six ventricular tachycardia (VT) storms and three procedures Geoff Hodgkinson’s life has changed dramatically. No longer is he able to enjoy the energetic lifestyle he once did, and illness has meant giving up his favourite pastimes of gardening, DIY and rebuilding steam engines at Havenstreet.

His heart attack and VT storms started last summer. “It was 4:30am and I woke up not feeling very well. Sweat was pouring off me and I gave my wife a nudge and said ‘I don’t feel very well’. She asked if she should call an ambulance and I said ‘no, I just don’t feel very well’. I sat out on the patio and went back to bed a bit later. That day, I went to the GP but still didn’t feel well and spent the day in bed. At 8:30pm, I told my wife ‘you had better ring 111’ and then the paramedics were sent in and said I had had a heart attack.”

This was just the start of a string of medical appointments and six VT storms, culminating in the fitting of an ICD, or implantable caridoverter defibrillator. This small device implanted in Geoff’s chest now constantly monitors his heart rhythm and can deliver electric shocks if the heartbeat becomes irregular. Whilst the ICD is doing its job, Geoff knows that his condition remains serious and it’s led to a new outlook on life. “Do today what you want to do because you might not be here next week. Don’t put things off…do it now!” he advises.

So, when he was referred to Mountbatten’s services by his Critical Cardiac Nurse, and being unable to do many of the hobbies he once enjoyed, Geoff was interested to know more about our Music Therapy service. “When I told my doctor I was going to play the drums, he said ‘don’t you think that would be a bit too strenuous for you?’ and I said ‘We’ll find out!’”.

For nearly a year, Geoff has enjoyed weekly sessions, playing drums alongside Mountbatten’s Music Therapist Fraser Simpson while he plays piano. “For an hour a week, I sit here and batter the drum kit – it’s a lot of fun and I don’t even think about why I’m here. All your cares and worries are gone. It’s a great way to meet other people as well. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Fraser has no doubt that music therapy is good for body, mind and soul: “Music therapy is available for anyone under hospice services and it can be used for lots of different reasons; it can make us feel calmer, or more stimulated and alive. Music is also something that holds a lot of memories for us, so playing music can touch memories of former times in our lives. One of the things about music is that it only exists in the present moment. That’s one of the really lovely and healthy things about music – it enables us to live in the present moment. It is about seizing the moment!”

Geoff couldn’t agree more. His advice to others? - “Go for it!”

If you have advanced heart disease, Mountbatten can offer you support and advice - find out how here.