Saturday, December 10, 2011

Taking Care of Ourselves

I recently had my follow-up visit with one of the cardiologists that treated me during my "unscheduled" hospital stay in November.  Since it hasn't even been a month since my stay, I am still adjusting to the fact I have a heart condition.  As I was waiting to be seen by the doctor, I looked around at the other people in the waiting room with me.  I was the youngest by about 20+ years.  Some of the people were attached to oxygen, others had wheelchairs and walkers.   I kind of sat there scratching my head, thinking how did I end up here???  As I think back to about 6 months ago, before I ever knew I had an irregular heartbeat, I remember my feet and legs not really hurting, but definitely feeling uncomfortable if I tried to get up from the bed, chair or off the floor.  I really didn't think too much about it at the time. When I started having the shortness of breath pretty much all of a sudden during my daily walks, I still didn't think a whole lot about it.  When I started going to bed 1-2 hours earlier than normal, I figured I was just wearing myself out during the day and was extra tired.  All of these different things were pointing towards heart disease.  I just wasn't putting it all together!  There evidently is 100 or more different types of cardiomyopathy.   Since it's "non-ischemic" cardiomyopathy (meaning not related to coronary artery disease) it's unclear what caused it.  I am so thankful to the nurse at the Red Cross that caught my irregular heartbeat,  which in turn eventually led to the diagnosis of cardiomyopathy.  I have spent some time (probably too much time)  since my discharge from the hospital thinking, what if? What if it hadn't been caught early? How long would I have let it go before doing something about it?  When one of the cardiologists that I saw in the hospital  told me a heart transplant was the worst case scenario, I have to admit, it kind of shook me up!!  I'm lucky in a lot of ways that it was caught early.   I'm now playing the waiting game. I'm not very good at that game!  I'm taking a high blood pressure medication and getting another echocardiogram in February 2012.  The doctor said we'll see how the test in February turns out and then decide what to do next. I'm trying not to think what that "next" step might be.  As moms, we are so busy taking care of everyone else that sometimes we ignore the warning signs in regards to our own health.  I'm so used to being the caretaker in my house, I'm having a hard time letting my family take care of me!  I'm slowly loosening those "control" straps I have attached to my family and a lot of other things in my life.  It's hard, but I'm learning! In hindsight, I wish I would have listened to my body more and recognized the symptoms earlier as being symptoms of heart disease.  But, as the old saying goes,  hindsight is 20/20.  I just have to keep plugging along and remember to sit and rest once in a while.  That pile of laundry that's as tall as my son will just have to wait!

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