A PERSONAL BLOG: THE HEART TRILOGY: how do you mend a broken heart?

I thought it might just be a nice idea to finish off the series of my blogs about my heart, with a third and final one, which is more about hearts in general and foremost, the big question:

How do you mend a broken heart?

Obviously I am not talking here about a physical heart, more metaphorically speaking about what do you do if your heart is broken and why? What are the reasons? And more important what can you do about it?

The first thing that springs to mind about having a broken heart is all about love. A relationship that is broken for whatever reason. I am sure that many of you reading this will remember your first love affair. Whatever age you were (or even are), that seems to be the most painful for everyone and one, which is engraved into your memory.

Personally I remember that I was about 15 or 16 at the time. I used to go out regularly with school friends to the local youth club, or sometimes to a disco in the next biggest town, Guildford. It was nearly Christmas and I remember meeting a boy called Brian, who kept asking me to dance. At the end of the evening, a few kisses and the exchange of our home telephone numbers. This was long before the era of smart phones and the social media app’s we have today. He rang me up a few days later, asked me out for a next date, and so the relationship went on. He was older than me I remember, studying at the London College of Hairdressing and Fashion in Oxford Street. Often I would go up by train to London to meet him there, it was all so exciting and fun. We all felt so grown up! He would sometimes come and visit me at my house and vice versa. He was highly talented and I thought he would go on to become a famous name in this industry, like many of the students who studied with him have done and their names are worldwide brands. The relationship went on for about one and half years and then all of a sudden he broke it off. I was devastated; never saw that coming and then he re-established his relationship with a previous girlfriend. It was right before my final college exams and I remember my mother being quite furious with him about the timing. He wrote in my diary (yes, we had them in those days), that he would always love me and never forget me. Yes sure!!

I often bumped into them and once my ‘broken heart’ had repaired, I got into a new relationship as well and then he was jealous. As if he had the right to be?
In the end when actually my anger suddenly bubbled up out of nowhere about the way he had treated me, was the moment when my heart was truly mended. So in other words my conclusion about this was that when another emotion took the lead role that my heart recovered and healed. Sadness had been replaced by irritation.

The last thing I heard about him, a number of years later was, when I went to see him get married to girlfriend number one and was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard that he was going to be a butcher in a local village shop. After all that training and being really good too. What a waste it seemed, from making people beautiful with extravagant hairstyles and fashion, to go on and spend your working life, cutting up animal corpses!

How many of you reading this, are now thinking about the very similar situation? The loss of a first love is the worst, my mother always used to say. Of course, looking back and several relationships further on, it would have probably never worked anyway long term, even though I am willing to say that there are some people who meet the love or their live in a first relationship, marry and have a wonderful life together and are as much in love as in the beginning. Well done if you are one of those!

There is no pill or band-aid plaster or any cure actually, to put on your wounds. They literally just need time to heal. It may sound like an old cliché and it is, but you will recognize even if you think you won’t. It is that moment when you suddenly realize you have not been thinking about it for an hour, a few hours, the whole morning of afternoon and eventually a day. Then a week and a month. You can pat yourself on the back; you are healing all the time. The ‘pain’ has suddenly gone, just as quickly as it came. You feel better, more composed and generally life is possible once again and suddenly you are smiling and laughing again. There is light at the end of what seemed to be a dark tunnel.

It may then be hard to actually remember how awful you felt. You actually don’t want to remember. It can remain a memory deep inside and often a piece of music on the radio or someone suddenly says something; back comes the memory and that is perfectly OK, but that intense feeling of deep pain in your heart has passed. It is mending or it is mended. Memories are things we all have and it is good to have them. Good to know what things we did or achieved in our life, good things, bad things, things we might have done differently in retrospect, but it is all part of our own personal growth.

There are of course other aspects of having a broken heart and the next biggest one is loss. Loss of a child, a partner, a parent, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, a pet; the list is long. Loss and perhaps death walk hand in hand and you feel as if your sadness and pain will never leave you again. Believe me it will eventually, but we all have to actually go through a process of loss. Loss can be something small or something big. Something, which may remain with us for the rest of our lives. Then it will become a memory. Because life is actually going on at its own steady pace and even if you feel you have completely dropped off the bandwagon for a while, that too is perfectly OK. You need time.

Again with loss, just like love, time is the healer, even though you will be confronted for a long time with special moments and memories. But they are good aren’t they? It would be awful to think that when you lose someone you have forgotten all about them all of a sudden.

Even though I personally think that time is a bit of an illusion and something that we humans have created ourselves, time is a healer in many ways and we should be grateful for that. So that seems to be the answer about how do you mend a broken heart? Be strong, be patient and get yourself involved in your own projects. Do something completely different, do something that makes you feel good, something you like to do. Enjoy. During the process it is perfectly OK to have happy moments too because it all contributes. Be authentic, be you, this is all about healing you personally. It is worth taking time. It is important. Just remind yourself that you are worth it. Everyone deserves happiness don’t they?

Finally just want to share the words of a lovely song written by Barry & Robin Gibb © (Warner Chappell Music)

I can think of younger days
When living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow
But I was never told about the sorrow
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart
And let me live again
I can still feel the breeze
That rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow
No one said a word about the sorrow
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart
And let me live again


image from Google Images



22nd May 2018

My computer warned me that that the traffic was bad to Eindhoven! Understatement, it was a nightmare! Stop, start all the way and I am going to be late. Have in fact to make a phone call to say, nearly here, expect to arrive in about 10 minutes. Then a huge sigh of relief and calm as we drive into the car park. My daughter is with me.

We ‘checked in’ at the Reception in the Heart Lounge and after the preliminary checks go through into another part of this new complex at Catharina Hospital, which has an atmosphere, which I can only describe as, homely. Putting in an IV drip is causing problems, but no doubt someone will manage it. I settle myself down into an extremely comfortable chair having been told that I am scheduled at around noon. I actually manage to read one single sentence of the new book I have brought with me (a Dutch book called Stromboli by Saskia Noort) and then a nurse comes to tell me it is time to change and get ready, the operation before mine is finished.

Yet another visit to the toilet even though I have not drunk anything since midnight the day before, just put it down to some sign of nerves, although I am feeling incredibly calm and not at all nervous.

Once in bed in my charming operation gown, the patient who was before me arrives back in the room. Wesley, a really friendly young man is in charge of the sedation during the procedure and he manages to finally get the IV drip in, so ready to go. On the way to theatre, one of the people wheeling the bed asks me if I am from England and then we launch into a chat about Ireland as he is going on holiday tomorrow along the Wild Atlantic Coast. It is incredibly beautiful there, where huge Atlantic waves crash against the coastline and have created one of the most spectacular wonders of the world – The Giant’s Causeway. I tell him what is it and definitely not to miss!

Once in the theatre which is number 5 by the way, then we suddenly start to chatter on about the Royal Wedding the previous Saturday which literally everyone has seen. England in its full glory, all that pomp and circumstance. All that normal stiffness has literally been swept away by a very new type of service. Lukas intervenes and says ‘shall we get on with things!’ Yes of course.

Then after the normal pre-op questions I then have to get out of my bed and onto the actual operating table and that in a gown, which is about the size of a tea towel. I make a remark but come on its nothing they all have not seen hundreds of times before. The table itself is quite narrow and hard as stone.

My ‘tea towel’ is removed and a mass of people are putting on ECG leads and preparing for the actual ablation itself. I have a totally unflattering hat on my head and now an oxygen mask across my nose and face. I glance up at the clock at the time is coming up to exactly 11.11 am. Wesley says it is time to start putting me to sleep and then everything goes blank.

In actual fact, as I have already told Lukas, I go right out of my physical body and leave it behind on the table for them to get on with their work. I have made this journey out many times before and it always starts in the same way:

There is blinding white light, I am going through it and eventually come into a space which is so totally different than anything from the world as we know it as humans. My soul is making this journey; my physical body is left behind on an operating table in Eindhoven.

The first thing about this place is it is totally serene. The sounds are different, the colours are different and as I begin to move into this world of in between, there is a small bridge crossing a river. To the left is a field filled with the most incredible flowers, all colours and a heady perfume scent. There standing in the garden is my spiritual father. He is pleased to see me and holds out his arms to give me an embrace. It feels incredibly familiar, which it is and perfect.

I make my way further, seeing things along the way I have seen before.

My next recollection is that I am travelling to somewhere completely new. I can move extremely fast and without any restriction whatsoever and space and time itself fade away. This new place is something I will write about another time, I still have to absorb the impressions and things that happened and try and put it into words. As I write this blog several days later, I know I need time. This place is where I am going after this life here on this planet. It is something totally new.

Suddenly at about 1 pm I feel someone moving my physical body. I have a moment of hesitation, do I actually want to come back, yes or now, there is split second of time, but I do because I know I have promised to. It is not right to pass over at this moment that will happen later on a date I have known actually since my birth on this planet, all those years ago now in England.

Now Lukas will take over this blog again and tell you exactly what he did. The reason I asked him to do this and be so specific is that a lot of people (more than 1400) have reacted to my first blog and all want to know ‘what happened next?’

“After Jill fell asleep I punctured the femoral vein twice in order to place 2 catheters in her heart via de inferior caval vein: one catheter in the coronary sinus for pacing the heart and one in the left atrium. The latter catheter enters the left atrium via a puncture through the atrial septum. This is a routine procedure in our centre. This is all the equipment we need, as we try to minimize the number of punctures and catheters for patient safety. The procedure went perfectly according to plan, normal anatomy and optimal electrical isolation by inflating a cryo-balloon (freezing) in the pulmonary veins. We believe this is the most effective and safe procedure for atrial fibrillation. It took about 80 minutes from start until removing the catheters”.

Suddenly, I can feel incredible pressure on my groin, hard fingers pressing deep into my flesh. I know this is happening stop any bleeding. A pressure bandage is wrapped around my groin and having moved myself back into my bed, I am now on the way back to the room where I started. Have to lie flat now for several hours. I sleep the rest of the afternoon until Lukas appears and tells me that everything has gone really well. He and his team accomplished what they were going to do. I actually ask him if my heart has stopped? He reassures me that it did not and they have only given me cardio version to re-set my heart after the procedure, because after all it is mended now, to ensure there is a good rhythm. Totally logical of course!

In the meantime several other people have come and gone during the afternoon, the majority of which I have missed entirely because I was in such a deep sleep.

The nurse comes to ask if I want something to eat, yes, suddenly feel hungry and attempt to eat something lying down, which is in my opinion totally impossible.
When I am allowed to sit up, I wait for quite a long time before even attempting to stand up. Everything feels stiff and I have real cramp in my leg from lying in one position for so long. Once the feeling of dizziness has passed, I can walk to the toilet.

Unfortunately, there is a sudden huge loss of blood and I have to rush back to tell her. Apparently this can happen, when the catheter has been passed through one of the major veins, but the urgency is that I have to lie flat as soon as possible and they have to stop the bleeding. This happens and I have to lie flat for about an hour or so.

Around 9pm I am moved together with two male patients to the so-called Night Stay. Restless night, filled with dreams, a lot of which I cannot remember.

After breakfast and a shower, which makes me feel human again, I can go home and start on the procedure of healing. The major job is done, thanks to Lukas and his team and it is up to me now to take things easy and slowly build up my activity once more.

The most amazing thing is that for the first time in a long while my heart is beating in a perfect sinus rhythm. A rhythm in my body but also beating in time with the universe itself. All is well, all is perfect.

Back in August for a control and in the meantime enjoy the most amazing summer weather. I am actually typing this blog in the shade in my garden, which is filled with roses and lilacs. The scent is almost intoxicating. It’s a very hot day here (30oC) but a gentle breeze coming off the sea is making my wind spinner turn and the wind chime is playing its tune too. Life is so good.

I hope that any of you who are reading this blog, that if you have heart concerns, worry no more. The techniques, the equipment, and the way cardiologists work with their teams of experts are changing so much now. Just like our world is changing each and every day. It is very important however, to have a good rapport with your cardiologist as that in my opinion contributes a lot to how you feel as a patient beforehand and how you go into the actual procedure itself. A feeling of complete trust, and complete surrender to their expertise. I certainly had that and I am incredibly grateful that it all went that way.

It was wonderful that there were so many other things that all came together on that day, now one week later. Each and every day I am getting better. Stiffness is subsiding and I feel incredibly well.

Jill Kramer (May 2018) © & Dr. L.R.C. Dekker, Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, The Netherlands



Logging in to my website this morning I have received over 1370 reactions to my posts. Amazing and I want to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time and the trouble to write me a message especially to say how much you, your friends and colleagues are enjoying my work and also sharing it amongst your own social groups. I really appreciate this, so a big thank you.

I thought that I might be able to reply to everyone individually but the numbers have gone up so fast it will take me ages, hence this general message to you all – thank you.

I am working on Part 2 of my blog about my heart. For those of you who have asked me how I am progressing – very well. Each and every day getting better and my heart is still beating strongly in a perfect sinus rhythm. I have had a little ‘time out’ from my writing to actually allow my heart to get used to this new situation. Remember for years now it has been desperately trying to work!

I am going to finish the trilogy about my heart with a more general blog which I hope everyone will respond to – how do you mend a broken heart. By this I don’t mean your physical heart but ….. watch this space will be released sometime next week.

We are soon approaching mid summer or mid winter depending on which part of our planet you live. Enjoy this season.

Thank you all once more, I am really honored by the comments and really appreciate them all.



Image from Google, artist unknown