Jul 16 2021

How studying is helping me recover from a cardiac arrest

When Geoff Sim, from Southampton, began studying a Masters in Psychology at Arden University, he had no idea the course would one day help him rehabilitate from a cardiac arrest.

Geoff, 51, has lived his whole life in Southampton and has two grown up children. He is currently a manager for DHL. However, studying and education is his passion, and in recent years he has become a ‘lifelong’ learner.

A keen student, Geoff has gained various qualifications, including MSc Strategic Business Management, BSc Sustainable Performance Management, BA Leisure management, ILM L7 Executive Coaching and Mentoring and CIMA Chartered Management Accountant.

Geoff said: “I like to think that I have applied the learning from all studies over the course of my lifetime.”

However, it was only recently that Geoff saw the benefit of all his studying had on his health.

“I suffered a cardiac arrest when I was studying for my third and fourth modules at Arden University, which derailed my whole life, let alone my studies. I was fit, healthy and the consultant described me as ‘high functioning’, so it was a huge shock.” 

He continued: “With a cardiac arrest the blood supply to your brain is interrupted and it took me time to recover, but I used my studies as rehabilitation which gave me a purpose to crack on and complete the course.”

After the devastation of the heart attack, Geoff became even more determined to live life to the full and continue with his passion for learning. He added: “I wouldn’t let the ‘event’ define my future; it was an occurrence in my life, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me achieving my goal – so instead I used it as a positive motivation.”

Cognitive impairment after a cardiac arrest is very common and many studies have proven that keeping the mind active can aid recovery. Geoff used his studies to keep his brain engaged and working by continuing on to study his fourth module on the course.

The flexibility and support from Arden University also greatly helped Geoff.

“I wanted to work from my hospital bed, but doctors wouldn’t allow it. However, when I came out of hospital, I spoke to my tutor and lecturers at the time who were very supportive and helped me focus my mind. I felt that they were nurturing in their approach and I particularly built a rapport with the head of school, who really empathised with my situation … I found them all motivating.  My situation was probably pretty unique, and I don't expect that many lecturers will have experienced it before - but I have learned a lot from it.”

By continuing to study Geoff has now completed all elements of his Masters in Psychology and is awaiting his final grade. When asked how he felt on completion, Geoff said: “Having completed my dissertation which, I hope I have passed, the feeling of satisfaction of going through the process from start to finish is like none other.”

“When having problems, I envisage how I would feel if I didn’t complete the course after the end date and how I will feel when I have completed it, this helped to spur me on.”

Geoff now leads a positive happy life and is looking forward to finding out his final grade with Arden University. Geoff said, “We all have barriers in life, but I think it is important that we look at our lives holistically; if I had bailed I would have recovered and had nothing to show for it, now I feel pride for wading through the difficult times and completing the course.”

To find out more about blended and distance learning courses at Arden University, visit: arden.ac.uk.