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Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

February is fast approaching.  The ‘red’ month… and I don’t mean Valentine’s Day. 

It’s a fantastic thing that a whole month is dedicated to raising heart disease awareness.  Anytime attention is focused on an issue that affects millions of people, it is a worthy cause. 

Overall, much is being done to spotlight what can be done to prevent heart disease.  Heard this one before?  ‘Check your numbers’; ‘Exercise regularly’; blah blah blah.  It would seem that the only awareness being raised is on how best to avoid it.

Since we don’t have that option, what we need now is information on how best to live with heart disease. 

Come To Terms

There.  I said it.  It’s like anything in life; you win some, you lose some.  So what if I have heart disease.  Everybody has something to contend with.  What’s important is how you view it.  Does it define you?  Or, by living your life the best you can, do you conquer it?

 Challenge Yourself

Mentally, not physically.  That’s a given.  Truth be told, I spent the better half of the day in bed.  However, the other half of the day was spent doing the things I love most.  What is it that you love to do most?  Stop to think before you answer.  Sometimes the more profound realizations come when you are quiet enough to hear them.

 Continue To Learn

The beauty of the Internet is that it continues to evolve.  Six years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find anything on the Internet regarding Microvascular Heart Disease.  That is beginning to change.  So, we need to change.  We need to continue to read and to research and to learn all we can about our condition.  You never know… perhaps we can, in some small way, dictate the direction of our care.

 Stretch Forward

Like a cat waking up from a nap.  Your condition might be static, but you don’t need to be.  Expand your horizons.  Volunteer.  Take a course.  Read that book you’ve been meaning to.  Remember, its the small victories that add to the richness of your life. 

Make this a February to remember.  Join the most important cause imaginable… yours.

 

 

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My doctor calls it “a flare up”.  I call it a nightmare.  I’ve spent the last two weeks wondering whether or not I should go to the emergency room.

I’ve learned to deal with the usual symptoms; pressure in the chest, extreme fatigue and the stomachache.  That’s everyday stuff – the stuff I wake up to.  It’s when the unusual symptoms begin that I get a little nervous; things like intense dizzy spells and shoulder pain.

So I wait.  I figure if it doesn’t go away in a day or two, I’ll call my doctor.  Two days pass and I still feel ‘schmoopy’ (my husbands loving description of what I look like on the outside when my heart gives me grief).  Here is where my head was this week:  “Is this it? Am I finally having a heart attack?  Will I spend the evening in the ER?  Maybe they’ll have to do a 12 lead EKG…did I shave my legs today?”

The symptoms remain the same, however, because of the overwhelming worry, I wonder what’s worse — having heart disease or the fear of dying from heart disease.

A Never Ending Cycle

It’s a unique situation to be in, one in which it’s best to keep things in perspective.  Those of us in this position know when the symptoms are manageable and when something just isn’t right.  While the management of a chronic illness carries enough stress in and of itself, it’s not as bad as the panic caused by the relapses. 

Don’t Panic

Apparently this heart disease isn’t going away so perhaps what I need to do now is focus on getting the emotional aspect of it in check.  The unknown is a scary thing.  However, worrying about it won’t change it, right?  Instead, I’ll focus on the things I can control; like medication and eating habits and exercise.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better go shave my legs.

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There is such a sense of relief when you’ve finally received the correct diagnosis.  Especially if it has been a long time coming.  Unfortunately, that sense of relieve doesn’t last very long.  Now you are faced with the devastating news that you actually have a life threatening disease.  Wow.  Just typing that makes me depressed.  Let’s move on before I start to cry.

They say there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.   To put things in perspective, allow me to share what these stages meant for me:

1.)   Denial:  Insisting upon maintaining the same routine even though you feel like you’re going to collapse at any moment.

2.)   Anger:  Yelling at your husband because he used the hand towel for anything besides drying his hands.

3.)   Bargaining:  Promising your doctor that you’ll do all that is asked so long as she makes it go away.

4.)   Depression:  Waiting until you get in the shower to cry so that nobody else will hear you.

5.)   Acceptance:  Agreeing to use a motorized scooter at Disneyland. 

The grieving process is just that, a process.  However, regardless of where you are in the journey, there are definite steps you can take to help yourself along. 

Let The Healing Begin

First and foremost, learn to accept that you have heart disease.  This is difficult as your first impulse might be to deny it.  We may understand the mechanics of it but wrapping our heads around it emotionally is much harder. 

Second, tell yourself that it is ok to feel the pain.  Yes, you need to do this.  The pain associated with grieving can be both emotional and physical.  Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it.  Denying the pain of grieving can lead to physical symptoms, and that’s the last thing you need right now.

Next, adjust to living with heart disease.  When diagnosed with such a life altering condition, the lifestyle that you were used to has suddenly changed.  You may find yourself grieving for the parts of your life that will never be the same.  That’s ok.  It takes time for the realization to sink in.

Finally, understand that, in many ways, you heart is ‘broken’.  Allowing yourself to heal will enable you to be proactive in the care your heart receives.  And isn’t that what its all about?

 

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