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"Big Hearted Man" by Kate Boydell

Published by Troubador
ISBN: 1899293345
Priced at £7.69

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How many of us have thought that we should write a book about what has happened to us as congenital heart patients? And how many of us have ended up being too busy living life, or recovering from it, to find the time?

Kate Boydell is not a GUCH, but she was married to one. This book is about knowing someone coping with adult congenital heart disease; it's about loving them, caring for them, seeing them through surgery, arrhythmias, frustration and successes. And it's also about losing them.

Lots of us will be "big hearted" on our X-rays, and so was Charlie, the husband of Kate Boydell. Without sentimentality, "Big Hearted Man" describes a normal happy loving life -- and it includes all the things that are normal to us. By that I mean the worries about surgery, the difficulty in placing your trust in the doctors, the spectre of endocarditis, the strain of keeping a family together, and of passing on a positive face for the sake of the people you love.

"Big Hearted Man" reminds us that other people know what it is to fear re-hospitalisation, dread owning up to the next bout of atrial flutter, crave sorbet and ice cubes after anaesthetics, and demand fierce independence - but unstinting help when we need it. It is a story of a life lived fully, not a life lived too short.

Kate lost Charlie when they were in their thirties, and she writes painfully but with great strength of the terribleness of being left behind. Her final positive outlook is not glib, but offers a small something to cling onto.

Reviewed by Sarah Darby

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