British Heart Foundation

Emotional rollercoaster

Hi everyone,

I'm new here, and feeling resentful for it, is that normal?

I'm 55, don't smoke, drink, fit-ish, bmi ok and eat healthily mostly (love butter). Three weeks ago while taking our son to a University application day I had some strange numbness in my arms and face. When I got home I took a couple of aspirin thinking it could be a mild stroke. Felt fine, went to bed.

Next morning I felt fine until I was doing some weeding when the arm pain came back and then the chest pain started. As it didn't go when I sat down my husband drove me to A and E. At first I think they thought I was having a panic attack. When they gave me morphine and aspirin I felt much better. ECG was fine. Blood pressure fine.

Blood tests showed I had had a heart attack. They performed a angiogram, but didn't need to stent, so I felt lucky. Sent me packing with a sack load of drugs.

However, being home and resting is hard! I desperately want to go back to my old life. I want to go back to work asap but fear that I may have another attack and make an idiot of myself. I have had a couple of occasions where my arms feel heavy and weak and feel restricted round my mid-rift. Each time after eating. Taking my GTN and aspirin helped but could have been a placebo effect for all I know. This has happened about three times since being home.

I have an MRI booked on 22nd but it'll be a while before I see my consultant.

I'm grateful for the timing of my HA. Our local hospital A and E has been closed overnight, but it also increases my anxiety.

I'm usually a very laid back and optimistic person so I'm shocked at how angry and sad I feel, especially when I read other stories on here and I know how fortunate I am. I don't want to feel a victim, or have to be 'careful', or worry that my kids and husband are worried. I don't want any of it!

So, my question is... how/when do you stop feeling like this? When can I return to work and feel confident again?

I will perfectly understand if you reply with, 'get over yourself!' Surprised you've stuck with it this long!

Sorry to whinge... and just a side note - a more positive one - our NHS is bloody fantastic!

C x

11 Replies
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Morning Claire and a warm welcome to the forum.

Really sorry to hear about your problems, firstly as you are aware from here, you are not alone. The feelings you have are very common as well.

Right, don't overdo it please, you need to relax, not rest, rest brings to mind recliner chairs, pipe and slippers. Its not that time, relax, do your normal routine, only slower, any pains, angina, stop sit down and recover, use your GTN, you'll soon learn when you need it and when you don't. Talk to your GP about planning your return to work, talk to your workplace about planning your return to work.

Phone your cardiology nurse if you have one or the BHF helpline on 0300 330 3311 to find out where your nearest cardiac rehab classes are and see when you can go. This is the place that will help you rebuild your confidence.

You will come through it, and enjoy life again but honestly relax a little your body and mind need time to recover, be spoilt by your husband and family.

Get well soon

Mark

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Thank you! I have an appointment with the cardiac rehabilitation nurse but it's not until the 10th April. I'm surprised how resentful I feel, just not like me at all, which is why it's good to hear that others feel the same. I guess it is like me to be impatient though.

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Hi Claire, I think we all are guilty of being impatient here, it is a case of learning to listen to your body. Rehab is a great start and April is around six to eight weeks post HA so thats normal. Will give you a good idea of what you can do, and you will be surprised, a nice gradual build up. Most also offer some sort of counselling, take up the offer, its good to talk things through

Mark

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Hi Claire. How difficult it is, to adjust to such an event. I’ve struggled with it for a long while. We have some parallels. Rather unclear, unusual and mild signs of angina, then a silent Heart Attack. I’ve had three of these, and many admissions when they feared another, but it was just angina.

If you want to get your life back, you’ll, firstly, have to get v good at identifying what really is angina, for you. Particularly if the signs are v mild.

Then the things that give you angina.

After eating, like you, is one of the times I got angina. Then I found it was only evenings. Now I eat much less in the evening, more at lunchtime. Walking too fast, or uphill, stress, carrying weight, wind, fog, severe cold etc etc I’ve gradually built up a list.

The good news. You will get back to a good place.

The bad news, it takes time to understand your own very particular early signs of angina, and learn to manage them well, yourself.

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Morning Claire welcome to the club I to am 55 and I will never get used to my heart problems .we all get down we all get scared glad to have survived the list is endless I have had all this.anxiety I thought that was a made up name until my events also diagnosed with ptsd.getting over the heart issues is easy it's between the ears where the most damage is done just take it daily look forward to doing thongs.i went back to work after 18 months just took a role that dint require much physical effort. The part I hate the most is not having my sunshine holidays insurance is dearer than the holiday because I have to tell them all my ailments.has for yourself time is really a great healer you will get there just take baby steps,I found relaxation cd,s helped me chill good luck with you your family and hope the old swinging brick behaves itself

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Hi Claire and welcome...you have found a place where you can vent away without any judgment ;) like yourself I was angry, sad, frustrated etc. It has taken me some time to get my head around my illness. Having watched all my Dad's family (all brothers) pass with some form of heart problems, I always hoped that I wouldn't follow in their footsteps. But life had a different plan and two years ago I was diagnosed with angina, nothing compared to your own story and certainly nothing compared to the posts on here, but for me..it was the end of the world. I now take a combination of drugs (7 different ones) and no longer use a GTN spray. It has taken longer for my head to recover from the news, but rest assured you will get there..the key for me was talking about my anger etc without feeling guilty as there are so many people out there ready to tell you, 'count your blessings' which to be honest is true, but your the one living with the problems. Two years on, I now know my limits, I used to walk miles with my dog, but am happy to take a couple of slow walks a day with her (thank goodness she's 11 and doesn't mind the pace!), do a little light gardening, enjoy shopping as long as I don't carry heavy bags etc. It's about adjusting your life to get the maximum from it...so wrapping up this very long post, you will get there mentally, be kind to yourself, talk to as many people, professional or otherwise and focus on the things you can do rather than the one's you used to do. Good luck xx

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Hi Claire

I can also relate to how you feel I had my second op 18 months ago mitral valve replacement all did not go smoothly It took over a year to start to feel like my old self but the upshot is I feel no benefit from this operation I felt better before I had it.

I know how frustrating it is for you but as time passes you will learn to cope with it and just live life as best you can .

Good luck Claire you will get there

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i completely understand how you feel. these things can bring out a range of emotions from sadness to anger to beating yourself. I'm 4 months on now and still off work. I don't feel like I want to go back to work until I fully understand what I have and I'm well in my way to rehabilitation. the rehab does help build your confidence, however, I have also found that some counselling wouldn't go a miss as the anxiety is the worst thing. I think at this stage is take it easy and try not to be hard on yourself. understand that your body and mind need to recover and try to enjoy life where u can. this post is very normal so don't feel like you are whinging! I wish u all the best and keep us updated x

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Thank you all. I now know I have definitely come to the right place to talk. I think you're all right, it will take me a while to get my head round it. I think I'll feel anxious until I've seen the consultant again too. In the mean time it's great to find some solace here xx

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I think you'd be hard pushed to find someone who didn't have feelings of resentment regarding their heart condition. I struggled with it for a few years, but I have come out the other side and am a very happy person now. My heart condition hasn't changed but my attitude to it (and to life in general) has. I was lucky enough to have access to a psychologist within my cardiology department and I found talking to him to be really helpful. It takes a long time to get your head around an event like this and the early months/years are hard, but I think you need to go through that to come out the other side feeling genuinely OK about it all.

I would be following doctors' advice about return to work, but that doesn't mean you need to be twiddling your thumbs. When I need to take time off work, I try to fill my days with other productive tasks that can be done with little effort, e.g. tidy out a drawer, sew something, cook (or plan meals/shopping list if I don't feel up to cooking), catch up on emails and letters... I'll also try to do nice things for myself like get my hair cut or go to the cinema (I'm lucky enough to have these options right on my doorstep) or read my book in the garden. I feel like it's more restful to have my mind occupied than to sit with my feet up while my brain goes at 100mph. Listen to your body and your brain and you should find a balance that suits you. I would be making that your focus just now, rather than getting back to work as soon as you can.

Keep us all posted with your progress and good luck with the rehab when it comes around. Lots of love x

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Thank you Laura - as it happens I've decided to go back to work. I would have taken a doctor's advice if I found one to ask!

The school where I work have been incredible and said I can do as much or as little as I want. So I went in for just 2 hours yesterday, slept a lot once I got home! Did the same again today, I can do just admin and go when I feel like it, or not go in at all on days when I'm really tired. I walk everywhere incredibly slowly but it has really helped my confidence and makes me feel like I'm back in the real world a bit. There's only a couple of weeks before Easter so I'm taking it steady.

I have been listening to my body more and sleeping a lot! I do seem to burst into tears still at every holiday ad on tv - what's that all about?! Overall though I feel a bit more uplifted, less like a victim and more like someone in recovery.

Thanks again xx

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