Anita Dobson: Actress on ‘nightmare’ health condition – ‘I wish never to go back’

Brian May celebrates Anita Dobson’s birthday

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When the actress married Queen superstar Brian May in 2000 she didn’t quite realise that the vows “through sickness and in health” would reign quite so true. At the age of 74, guitarist Brian suffered a whole host of grim injuries and health problems. This included a severe heart attack, a backside injury and sciatica. As his wife Anita and with a global pandemic on the horizon, Anita was forced to become Brian’s carer. Seeing her husband’s health decline then made her paranoid about her own.

The actress, who is now 72 years old, found transitioning into a full-time carer extremely tough.

She said: “My husband had a heart attack, sciatica and a haemorrhage, and I suddenly went from being a working actress to being a cleaner, cook and carer.

“Not a role I’m easily castable for! I did the best I could and thank God he’s all right now.

“He’s very kind. He says, ‘It’s down to Anita that I got through it’.

“But what you would have seen behind the scenes was a menial who was so grumpy it just wasn’t true.

“I’d go off into a corner and mutter away to myself, the cat, the fish and the birds in the trees – anybody who would listen.”

For Anita life was only to get worse as the country entered a national lockdown.

She told Women’s Weekly magazine: “Lockdown was dreadful, a nightmare that I wish never to go back into.

“Even when Brian started to get better there was this awful feeling of is this my life now?”

The musician who nearly died due to his condition, had to put up a fight to recover. Speaking to The Guardian in 2020 he said he was “very near death” as the drugs he was prescribed caused complications afterwards.

Talking on Instagram about his turbulent health, Brian said: “I was shocked, I thought I was a healthy guy. Everyone says I’ve got a great blood pressure and I keep fit, I bike, good diet.

“I had – in the middle of the whole saga of the painful backside – I had a small heart attack. I say small, it’s not something that did me any harm. It was about 40 minutes of pain in the chest and tightness.”

Talking about her own need to stay fit and healthy, Anita has previously revealed that she has no desire to be constantly in the gym.

The star, who appeared in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011, said: “I think you can do as much damage to yourself going to the gym and running as you do good. So my mission in life is just to keep myself ‘good’ – in good health, as fit as I can be, a little bit of stretching, and just think positive and enjoy life.

“The last place you’ll find me is the gym. It seems to me to be a waste of time – I could spend that time doing so many other things.

“I got extremely fit and slim while I was on Strictly, but I did find that each week a different part of my body hurt – it really makes you realise the hard work dancers have to put in and how fit they have to be.”

Although condemning the gym, Anita insists that she is keeping healthy. She continued to say: “I’m pretty fit; we’ve got a lot of stairs in our house and I’m up and down them all the time. Plus, I don’t smoke and I’m vegetarian.”

Despite making healthy choices, Anita’s husband is the perfect example that health issues can affect anyone.

The British Heart Foundation explain that the most common signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest. It can feel like indigestion or a burning sensation
  • Pain that may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • Feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.

In order to minimise your risk of a heart attack the NHS recommends eating a healthy balanced diet, not smoking and keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level. Those with a family history of heart attacks or coronary heart disease are automatically at a higher risk and should take extra care to follow precautions.

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