Hello everyone! I found this group and have been reading through the posts and have found a lot of solace in them. I had a very mild heart attack on January 11th and I have been home from the hospital for two days.
My back story very briefly (or not so briefly), I am a 54 year old female with no previous history of medical problems, most likely because I suffered from extreme anxiety and was very doctor phobic and had not seen a doctor in probably 20 years. My father had a sudden heart attack at 47 when I was 12 years old and died from it. I have always suffered from anxiety and panic attacks and any time I ever had any kind of problem (pain, shortness of breath etc) I blamed it on that. Recently I had been having some "episodes", discomfort, increased panic attacks etc. They would generally pass with rest but on the 11th it did not and so after Googling and working myself into an extreme panic I went to the ER. There they found that my pulse rate and blood pressure were very high. I was given meds to bring them down and all the standard blood tests, scans and such were run and I was given the word...yep...mild heart attack. The ER doc was very positive and told me it was the best thing that could have happened to me because it was mild and because now I knew and we could fix it and I could get on with my life rather then ignore it and have it wreck much greater havoc later. I was admitted and met with the Cardiologist who said it was indeed a very mild heart attack (but in his words...a heart attack is still a heart attack) and he set me up for an Angiogram and recommended a stent. I had the angiogram and the stent the next day. Surgery went well, much less scarey then I thought it would be. The hospital was very caring and kind in regards to my anxiety (which I made sure I told every person I encountered about). They gave me meds for my blood pressure and kept me on Xanax when I was feeling a bit stressed.
I was sent home with a ton of meds (Atorvastatin, Lisinopril, Metoprolol, Ticagrelor, Nitro and told to take baby aspirin). I was given a follow up appointment a month from now with the Cardio. While in the hospital they helped me find and set up an appointment with a GP for February. I was signed up to take part in the Cardio Rehap program and I was told to not drive for two weeks and to rest.
And so here I am. I am sitting here at home, not working (I am a Librarian). I have nothing but time on my hands to dwell on every single physical sensation I have, the future, my fears, life in general. I suffer from back pain and shoulder pain and every twinge sets my anxiety through the roof. Oh, the one thing they did not send me home with is Xanax. They said they don't like doing that. To many people abuse it and although they know that I am a person who REALLY needs it, I would have to wait until I saw my GP and get it from her. Ok...well...so here I am dealing with the biggest stressor I have had to encounter in my life (besides my spouses mild stroke in 2012) and I have nothing to calm me but my own mind (which has not worked so well in the past in that regard). I am terrified. I feel like I am made of eggshells. If I feel a bit drained I think "this is it...", if my back starts to ache I think "this is it...". I wake up depressed thinking that my life is done. I am destined to be an infirm person for the remainder of my days. The last thing the Cardiologist said to me as he shoke my hand at my release from the hospital (besides informing me that my heart was very strong, and oh you have a little leaky valve but no worries, it is very common, many people have it...WTF??) was "Don't worry". Easy for him to say sitting there with his perfectly fine operational heart.
I have been Googling none stop since I got home. Mainly looking for something positive to make of this. Sometimes I find it and sometimes I only find more things to scare me. I have convinced myself that when I go for my check in with the Cardio he is going to say the meds aren't working or my heart has gotten worse and I need a new one STAT! I envision all manner of nastiness lurking in my body ...despite for the first time in a large portion of my adult life having had every single blood test and scan imaginable telling me there is not. They even did a complete Abdominal/Pelvic CAT Scan/angiogram and said it was "beautiful" except for one little gall stone which was of no consequence right now. So all of those years of worrying about my organs being ravaged with cancer or some other nastiness were finally put to rest...so now why can't I?? Why? Because I feel like a ticking time bomb. If feel like the most important organ in my body has betrayed me. My sense of strength and wholeness has been shattered.
As I said earlier, in 2012 my spouse suffered a minor stroke which left them with numbness but little else in the way of residual problems. They also have MS, survived a car accident that broke thier back, leg, ankles, nose and laid them up in a body cast for 6 months in the late 80's. And yet they have a very zen type of personality, taking everything in stride, nothing bothers them. I on the other hand have spent the past 5 years since the stroke watching them like a hawk and waiting for the other shoe to fall (no wonder I had a heart attack huh?).
I am sorry to ramble on so much. All of my friends have been supportive but I fear that now they will all see me as I see myself, a ticking, frail time bomb, less then whole. My job has been supportive. I am a Branch Manager for a small rural library Branch. I love my job and it isn't a stressful work enviroment. I have been there 11 years and have never called out sick once. I pride myself on being there and being strong and dependable. I am feeling very scared now about that. My boss said I need to take the time I need to heal and come back 100%. I have natural fears about losing my job (even though I know logically that will not happen). The Doc was vague on how long I would be out. I asked him and he just brushed it off and said "You will meet with me at the appointment and we will see how our plan is working". Ok...that appointment is a month from now. I can't miss a month of work. Or can I? Should I? Is this a normal period of time away for something like this? And the Cardio Rehab is scheduled to start the end of February. I think I will call tomorrow and see if I can get in sooner. That seems like a long way out to wait to get started. I need to get started. I need to feel like I am doing something, anything.
I have been fearful about the meds. Not taking them, I don't worry about side affects, I have read all about them and I know they can make me feel woozy, weak, lightheaded, blah blah blah. I worry about not taking them right. I read the bottles three times before taking them. I worry they won't work. What if I am a freak of nature and they don't work for me? How would I know? I know how important it is to take them and to take them correctly. They last thing the nurse said to me before I left when discussing the meds is "If you don't take these, you will be back here..." Geez people! Can't you see I am already freaked out? Do you think I would deliberately NOT take something that I feel is the only thing keeping me strapped onto this mortal coil?
This is the worst time to write this. My spouse just left to go to the store. The minute they stepped out the door I panicked. This was the first time I have been left alone since the heart attack. So I am sitting on my recliner with my dogs next to me, looking out at the sunny sky and the birds and wishing things could be like they were before when I was blissfully ignorant, wondering what lies ahead for me,...and also what that little twinge in my shoulder blade was earlier and why my leg is aching (probably because I have been sitting on my butt for 5 days), and it's my damn birthday and I wouldn't even give the ok for cake because God forbid I eat something unhealthy, my heart will immediately explode into a million tiny pieces. I am a control freak and for the first time in my adult life, in the past 5 days I have given up every ounce of control over every part of my life, my body and my whole world basically. I know that this is a time that I should reevaluate my life. To find happiness in the small things. To learn to relax and take it day by day and learn to live in the moment. I know I need to prioritize my life and get rid of the dead wood that is stressing me. I know that this is not a death sentence that it is a second chance. I know I will be healthier going forward and I will have that peace of mind. I know that I will be ok as long as I play by the rules (I already lost 160 pounds in the past 5 years, am not overweight, don't smoke or drink and hell..I'm even a damn Vegan for God sakes...little good that did!). I know they fixed the problem. I know I have meds in my body that are going to keep me healthy. I need to trust medical science. I need to do a lot of things but right now I am just scared and unsure and depressed and confused and lost.
Again, I am sorry to ramble. I needed to vent and figured that there may be some people here who would understand how I was feeling. I don't expect anyone will have any answers for me, I will need to find those within myself. But it does help to feel that you are not alone.
Thanks for listening. I hope you all have a wonderful day.
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