Just over a year ago, walker Debra Murphy was heading out onto the hills with her pet Collie when disaster struck.
On what was turning into a glorious day on one of her favourite mountains, Ben Lawers, the experienced hiker began to feel light headed.
With pins and needles soon following along with difficulty breathing, Debra, who is a trained first aider couldn’t believe what was happening – she was having a heart attack.
Luckily, some other hikers were on hand to help and though her memory of what happened next was a little hazy, she soon found herself in a helicopter on the way to the hospital.
Now, a year later, she finds herself back out walking, this time on a slightly smaller hill in the form of Ben Ledi, a Corbett near Stirling.
“Over the last year I’ve had countless admissions to hospital and I feel like the casualty department at Glasgow Royal are on first name terms with me, due to chest pains, etc, which were indicating a further heart attack,” Debra explained.
“All the tests have always been negative and I was continually being sent home and told come back if I got chest pains and irregular heart beats again.”
Following advice from her cardiologist, the otherwise fit and healthy 54-year-old decided to stop taking all medication except for aspirin and the change has quickly led to her feeling stronger and symptom-free.
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And after a few trial walks close to her home town of Kirkintilloch on Meikle Binn and the Campsie Fells, she decided to get back out there, she said: “I can’t fully put into words how fantastic it felt to be getting out on the real open fells again.
“I could hardly sleep the night before with the anticipation. People have often asked me why I like to climb hills and I guess people need to experience the freedom, peaceful solitude, and the most amazing views you could imagine to fully understand it. Winter is my favourite time of year and getting out on the hills again before then has meant so much to me.”
Quipping that she felt herself again after being able to dye her hair back to her usual colour purple, the owner of Mother Murphy’s Tearoom stated that she, as well as husband Jim, did have some worries about going out alone again with just Beatrix by her side, but that she was undeterred, she said: “I know the walk up and down Ben Ledi very well so had it all planned in my mind which way I was going.
“I’m not as fit as I was because I haven’t been on the mountains, so yes, I was soon out of breath on the steep bits.
“When I could feel my heart pounding, I rested, took deep breaths, and made sure that it quickly settled back down to a fairly normal rhythm.
“Once I had reached the point of no return climbing out of Stank Glen I was quite buoyant as I knew I would be reaching the top of my first mountain that day. Did I ever worry I was not going to make it? Never!”
Along with plans to get back out on her bike and enjoy a 100mile route around the Trossacks (including a climb up Duke’s Pass in Aberfoyle),Debra confirmed she is currently writing a book about her experiences.
Inspired by her tearoom in Falkirk, which is sadly closed due to the covid outbreak, along with overcoming adversity, she explained that ‘Recipes, Tales and Adventures’ will be available in time for Christmas, she said: “It’s a book about the girl living the dream finally getting her own tearoom, some tales and adventures of walks on the hills, stories about the tearoom customers and recipes for people to re-capture the cakes and bakes from our tearoom.”
Debra is also planning to relaunch her tearoom online selling her gluten and dairy free cakes and bakes, she added: “Our plan is to have a shopify site where we will sell monthly boxes and Afternoon Teas.
“We hope to have our first available in October, which will be a box of six individual cakes, where I have selected six of the most popular cakes from the tearoom.
“There will also be a Mother Murphy’s Family Favourite Biscuit Box and also one for traybakes and other goodies.”