My husband had a heart attack last week. The doctor’s are calling it a “mild cardiac episode.” What I know is that on November 15th at exactly 5:45 pm, I found the love of my life hunched over, gray, sweating, gasping for breath with chest pains. I am always calm under pressure. He looked into my eyes in total panic, and I did what I do best. I spoke quietly, reassuring him he was going to be okay while getting him the medical care he needed. Inside my head I was screaming and in complete shock. Since the day I met this man he has been strong and larger than life. In this moment he was reduced to raw fear. I have never fought back tears so hard in my life. I looked him straight in the eye and told him, “this was not how this love story was ending.”
We spent eleven hours in the emergency department that night and we truly had the best cardiac doctor. He had the same sense of humour as my husband and trust me it isn’t easy finding people who can quote Monty Python while doing an ultrasound of a heart. When one test was complete, if I wasn’t completely satisfied with the answers he would gladly conduct more. I was not leaving there until I knew he would be safe. Two cardiac blood tests, two ECG’s, an x-ray and an ultrasound later, we discovered his heart was slightly enlarged. We knew the basics, that his heart was functioning well at that moment and needed to follow-up immediately with a cardiologist for more testing.
So, here we are trying to put the pieces back together after the rug was pulled out from under us. This is what happens to individuals and families when they experience the loss of health. I brought my husband home that night and he was starving. I entered our kitchen determined to heal his heart with one meal. No more sodium, no more fats and voila. A wrap that consisted of 2% tuna, 90% spinach and 8% cucumbers. Oh and a side of every fruit known to man kind. I snuggled in beside him and presented this glorious feast. I then watched him attempt to eat it. I now realize this is a gradual process 🙂 . We have had to make some compromises over the last week. He has to understand that I still will ask him 25 878 times per hour how he is feeling. I have to understand that watching him sleep every second is apparently “not normal.”
What we all need to remember is this. Dealing with the loss of health is just like any form of grief and we will feel many of the same emotions. There are things that we can do to help us cope.
Talk about what has happened and the loss you are going through. Don’t be afraid to talk about how frightening the experience was or is.
Allow yourself to feel sad.
We often think keeping our emotions hidden is best for ourselves and those around us. Cry, it is normal to be sad. You have all gone through a crazy, terrifying ordeal that may still be ongoing as you figure out your new health plan.
Keep your routine up.
Yes you have hit a bump in the road. Give yourself the time needed to readjust and then get back at it. Staying in your routine gives you purpose and on those really difficult days you will need it.
Get plenty of rest. Your body and mind have been through a lot. Please allow yourself the time to heal.
As our body is trying to heal and repair we need to supply the fuel. Be mindful of what you are eating.
Avoid things that numb the pain.
Often times when we go through a traumatic experience and realize our lives may now be different because of it, we may not know how to deal with it. Other times with loss of health we are dealing with chronic pain. We need to avoid ways of numbing that pain with alcohol or drugs.
Seek Counselling if it feels right for you.
If after some time you are struggling to adjust to this life after loss of health, don’t hesitate to talk to a counsellor.
There are two sides of the coin to remember. When someone in your family becomes ill it affects both of you. When you are the one who is ill, your focus is on healing. That being said you can’t help but stress about what the future holds. You truly have to take this one day at a time.
When your family member is ill, your focus is on them. I could barely eat for three days and I slept 5 hours in that same time frame. It is very easy to get run down. You have to remember to take care of you. You probably have a job, children and many other responsibilities. You also need to use the same coping strategies listed above to stay in good mental and physical health.
Today we will see the cardiologist. We will put one foot in front of the other and march through this amazing life together. Tonight I am blessed to be able to fall asleep listening to the peaceful beat of his heart. Who knows, he may even get some spaghetti squash for dinner. 🙂
Much Love ❤