Living with Heart Failure

According to my cardiologist, my heart has completely recovered and the left ventricle branch block has also cleared.  My blood numbers are excellent, with every count and measure between great and awesome.

It’s certainly great news all around and I have not had any side effects or setbacks in the past 12 months.  I have to agree with the good old doctor, life is getting good again.

More surprisingly, I have managed to keep the weight at a 178-180lbs level for the past year now, with a few dips to 176lbs.  My dietary changes are paying off and cooking has become super easy now removing all the unwanted ingredients such as salt, fats, bread, snacks, soda, and sugary dishes.

So, what is the problem?

It is perhaps not so much a problem or difficulty living normally.  It is just a realization that my incident created an unwanted type of PTSD, anxiety and a level of super sensitiveness.

I believe that many people who suffer, and even recover, from serious illnesses still carry a level of anxiety with them, which is a mild case of PTSD.

Our body is hit by something severe and potentially life-threatening, your mind goes into a strange overdrive and at times even denial that you are in a rough spot.

We do not want to accept that we have come too close to the pearly gates, and why should we?

When I was in ICU for almost a week, the seriousness rarely entered my mind.  I was focused on the nurses taking my vitals, thinking about my family, watching TV and trying to focus on anything but my situation.

The first waves of anxiety attack only hit me when they moved me to a normal ward, where I was under fewer check-ups, and when they asked if I needed a life vest.  A life vest is basically a portable AED that will trigger if you have an incident.

Fast forward 18 months and my cardiologist has given me a clean bill of health, besides the fact that I need to continue my heart medication.

I have grown more aware of my body’s signals, and know exactly how it reacts when I catch a cold or if I have not eaten enough for the day.  I can feel when I need to drink more water.

  • I can even feel if my blood pressure changes as a result of a cold or long day.
  • If I don’t go to be by 10pm, I know I will have a little elevated pressure in the morning.
  • I know when a cold is coming, as I fell a little chest congestion coming on
  • I know exactly how to treat myself and what I need to do to recover

However, this alertness also increases my anxiety levels.  I am sensitive to changes around me.  Not work or family stress levels, just weather and how it affects my body.

When I do catch a cold, I get anxious about my heart rhythm, I track my heart rate and I “listen” carefully to other signals.  This makes me nervous and I wonder if I will have a sudden setback.

Why?  Well, when my incident happened, I was feeling ok most of the time, but other times I had a hard time catching a full breath and my veins tingled as my blood pressure was too high too.

When I feel similar, yet a lot of milder, symptoms, I cannot help but fear the worst.

Imagine how my anxiety levels are on the rise when something like Coronavirus circulates the World and the communities where we work and live.

The slightest elevation in blood pressure or chest congestion will elevate my anxiety levels.  I clean my hands like Macbeth’s wife as she tries to wash away the bloodstains on her hands that are not even there!

My cardiologist already told me that I’m not in a high-risk group, but that I, of course, need to take similar precautions as the rest of the population.  I do not want to contract something that can kick me down again.

You should always raise your concerns and questions with your cardiologist.  They are there to help you and they know why certain things might happen.

These heart fears are most likely nothing, and your doctor will confirm that.  But, if you do not ask, you might have mild or serious symptoms that need additional treatment.

Never try to self medicate and self diagnose, it will end badly, or just take so much longer to actually heal and recover.

It is normal to feel worried.  You need to learn how to live with these symptoms and you will get better at dealing with these events.

Have faith in yourself and trust your doctor.  You will get through these events.  It is important that you find ways to heal your mind as well as your body, and for me, it started with Max Lucado and Zach Williams.

Reach out if you want to chat.

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