AF Association
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Attitude Change


I had my heart operation in January, nearly 12 months ago. I have had afib permanent since then until I had a cardio-version at beginning of November which put me back in SR which I am still in SR.

But my wife says I have changed since the op, I am not the person I was I am very moody, get angry and very frustrated. I row a lot now with her and to be honest I do not feel anything like I was before the op.

My wife, through research on internet that many are saying similar and even end up in divorce and it appears it may be caused by being on the heart/lung machine.

Wonder if anyone has thoughts on this.



10 Replies

It could be the heart lung machine - but I think it is also common to any chronic condition. Illness means we have to come to terms with change, we can't do the things we used at the speed we used to and that is very frustrating. Frustration builds, it is like a glass of water, when full it overflows.

If we don't own those feelings and deal with them appropriately then it is very easy to act them out by arguing with those nearest and dearest, often without awareness. Frustration is just another word for anger and anger is often a cover for fear.

These feelings are normal and natural after such a major change to your life or anyone's and it takes a long time to come to terms with, 12 months is absolutely nothing and it takes 2 years to physically get over an operation like that, never mind psychologically. But they also won't go away on their own and only you can change how you feel. The danger is that your acting out becomes a habit and it sounds to me as if your wife is giving you a shot over the bows, so to speak.

You now have a tough decision, continue to ignore these feelings and nothing will change or do something about it which will be the hardest thing you ever did but could be life enhancing in more ways than you could imagine.

My suggestion would be to find some way of dealing with your feelings appropriately and then talking to your wife about how this has changed your life but also listen to her about how this has affected her,

You could - talk to a counsellor - separately or together; write a journal or blog; take up mindfulness; ask your GP for referral to Psychology - they have expert knowledge on dealing with this but I wouldn't hold out too much hope - I was referred 4 months ago and the silence is deafening!

You have made the first and most difficult step by putting it out there on this forum and I bet this will resonate with many - I know it does with me!

Very best wishes CD.


I am dealing with the "adapting" issue myself since AF and and one surgery this year has taken me twice removed from the physical athlete I use to be... That and turning the big 60.. Ugh.

Adapt, improvise and overcome is my saying. Doing is alone is very hard. My cats still have not learned to cook, dust or clean!!

I can laugh or I can cry. laughing is preferable.

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I think CDreamer has given you excellent advice there and I can't add too much other than to confirm that dealing with serious illness does have an affect on anybody. You can either use it or let it use you. When I was diagnosed with cancer I took a very specific choice that I would try to be positive and if the worst happened then people would not feel I had been a pain the the a---e and admire my stoicism. That I spent three years on hormone implants which emphasised my feminine side did nothing to spoil that! ha ha.

Fear does bad things to people so learn to deal with that.

One must also take into consideration a more ethereal side to this. Many peoples and faiths over the years consider the heart the to be the receptacle of the soul. I am sure that I have read of many cases where for example transplant patients become different personalities so maybe not a good idea to ignore these suggestions.

Whatever the reasons it will take work from you to sort out and as suggested you will need some help in that.

Good luck to you both.



My daughter had open heart surgery when she was 20 (a huge shock to all of us and especially to her) and was operated on two months after her condition was diagnosed. She was a different person afterwards and was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. It wasn't being on by-pass as such, it was just the enormity of surgery and shock. She has had lots of help and counselling since and is much better about the major changes in some areas in her life.

Do share with your wife what you may be going through, and as CDreamer says please seek help urgently - you may be in an area where you will be in luck with quick referral to a counsellor, but if not, short-term, anti-depressants may help.

Very best of luck.


Hi there, everything changed for me when I went into hospital with appendicitis and could not be operated on,an airways issue, they gave me a very large dose of antibiotics that sent my heart rate sky high with an irregular beat. In the middle of the night in needed to relieve myself and a very terse doctor shout at me that I had AF and was going no where. That was two years ago in 2014, I was only just coming to terms with having broken my hip on Boxing day 2009. I have been in and out of hospital with pneumonia as well as two CVs, so to say I am totally traumatised by the whole thing is a bit near to how I feel. Some days are good and some days I wish I was not here, but here I am, I spend a lot of nights not being able to sleep and just wish that I could fall asleep and not wake up, but when I do wake up I feel that I have been given another day and try my best to make it good. I my husband is very helpful sometimes but at other times he just does not want to know, its the same with my son. I hope you find the held you need. Seasons greetings, Lynn.

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It was something that was highlighted in the booklet that the hospital gave me about heart surgery before my valve replacement.

Glad to say that I am still the character that Andrew Meldrew was based on:-)


Please consider talking to your doctor about CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Information on this can be found at


I have been waiting for CBT since May and have still not got to the top of the waiting list and I have been diagnosed with PTSD and my GP has just refereed me to a psychiatrist.

But it is my mind that just will not shut down and sleep



Whilst you wait for an appointment with psychiatrist there are various not for profit agencies who offer low cost counselling, CBT & Mindfulness courses which can also be very helpful. The psychiatrist will often refer to a counselling psychologist who specialises in medicalised trauma for this type of distress.

I hope you find help sooner rather than later and I do hope these posts have shown you that you are not alone in your suffering.

My sister works in an ICU unit and from that and my own profession I know this is quite a common side effect of major surgery for life threatening conditions and for those on ICU units. Unfortunately it is not given the priority support in aftercare that it deserves.


I have been referred by my June 2016.Had 2 interviews and MAY get onto a group course of Mindfulness via TalkingSpace in APRIL 2017. T.Ask your GP for advicehe speed at which you are seen may depend on where you live but do not assume you will be seen quickly vis the NHS. Good therapists are to found privately and your GP may be able to advise of someone suitable in your area.

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