The days that followed my heart attack became really confusing. I had to call somebody to go to the bathroom. You have to be kidding me? Why can't I just jump out of this hospital bed and go pee?
Sleeping was a little scarce. I had been started on a new regimen of medications. I went into the hospital on one medication and now I'm leaving on four! One of the medications is a Beta Blocker. This is a medication given to post heart attack patients to help reduce the energy needs of the heart and decrease oxygen consumption. The funny thing about Beta Blockers is they don't really know how they work in the long run. The Cardiologists just say its better to take it then not.. Ok. The only problem is when you give this to a patient like me who had normal to low blood pressure and a low resting heart rate.. all the monitors go off. I had nurses rushing into my room at night because my blood pressure would drop into the 80/50 range. Keep in mind a normal blood pressure is 120/80. My pulse while sleeping would go in the 40's, normal 60-120. So as you can imagine to my surprise the nurses would abruptly open my door to make sure I'm still breathing. Well, the shock of being woke up definitely got my vitals headed in the right direction.
Before I left the hospital the nurses from Cardiac Rehab came to visit me. They had books on risk factors, modifiable and non-modifiable... your probably thinking to yourself what???
Modifiable are things such as: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, bad diet (yep, that means fast food and grease which we all love), and being overweight. Non-Modifiable are things you can't change! Think of it this way, age, gender and family history. You are stuck with your genes and no I don't mean the type of jeans you have to squeeze into after a fun weekend of too much food and wine. Isn't red wine heart healthy?? Of course in moderation.
Cardiac Rehab had a lot of things not to do, don't drive for a week, don't lift over 10 lbs., start the Cardiac Diet ( are you kidding me?) One thing they did tell me was that I would have a range of emotions. Sorry Joe I know that this woman is already moody, buckle up its gonna be a long ride. After the nurses said all this they would then insert "but then again you don't have any risk factors, but it won't hurt to try". I set up my appointments for Cardiac Rehab and will now go three times a week. I have visions of who will be in my class, grandma's and grandpa's and yes that truly is my class. I told Joe I just want to go around and hug them all they are so cute!
That first day home was tough. My family was there to help me. My mother-n-law flew in from Arizona, my sister and family came from Chicago.
That's when it hit me. The true impact a heart attack can have on your loved ones. When you see their faces. Joe and the kids were truly amazing during this whole process. I could see the worry in their faces. I noticed how many more "I love yous" I would hear as they would pass me on the couch. My sister Jennifer hit me the hardest. When she walked through the door I could see how worried she was. If felt amazing to be able to just hug her and let her know that she is stuck with me for the duration like it or not. (That's right Sissy I'm not going anywhere) Friends would come by to visit and you could see the shock and disbelief. Itreally made people start to look at how precious life was.
The one thing that I was not ready for was all the flowers. Now, this girl loves her flowers! I have a huge issue in the spring with buying more flowers then my yard could possibly hold.. shiny object syndrome my husband teases me about. But as all the flowers sat on my coutertop I would look at them and think "WOW, those flowers could have just as easily been for my funeral." I know this seems crazy to say but it's so true. Remember, the nurses told me that there would be a range of emotions and here it finally surfaced.
The emotions during that first week ranged from seeing the night light in the bedroom and thinking that's what I looked at as I walked out to the family room with chest pain. To putting my head on my pillow and wondering would I wake tomorrow morning? Joe and I started to make a joke of this to add a little levity to the situation. I would say before bed "if you wake up in the middle of the night wake me up to make sure I'm alive". You might think this is crazy.. but in my mind all I could think about was the fact that I didn't have monitoring patches on any more. No nurses to run into my room and tell me to wake up? Joe is great but he is no magician, he can't look at me and say your blood pressure and pulse are low.. sit up Missy!
My next step is going to Cardiac Rehab classes. I am excited and nervous. I went from working out daily to now hanging out on the coach and each day increasing my activity level. The hardest part is trying to just do simple chores like making my daughters lunch for school. When you start to cry over the inability to make a peanut butter sandwich with out getting short of breath you just have to keep the faith that the struggle with normal living will get easier.
Below is a picture of me getting released from the hospital the second time. (Yep, on my one week anniversary I had chest pain, was short of breath and had radiating chest pain.. I had an additional night in the hospital last week). My heart checked out.. 1/30 people with stents will have inflammation around the stents and I was the lucky one. Well, maybe not so lucky.