Introducing me and my situation! Apol... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Introducing me and my situation! Apologies for such a long post!

Imin
Imin

Hi.

I had a HA at the end of September age 46. I have a strong family history so had heart health check annually. Always came back ok with no action required so HA a bit of a shock. Never drank or smoked, very busy daily life with work, being a Mum and caring for my Mum (she sadly died in July). I’d say I was moderately active. Diet hit and miss but not appalling!

I had two stents fitted and told I had risidual and diffuse disease in two other arteries but I don’t know the extent. I enjoyed cardiac rehab, I am eating very healthy - maybe too healthy with not being able to eat any crisps, biscuits, chocolate or what I thought of as treats even over Christmas! I am going to three exercise classes a week and doing one or two brisk 5k walks/jogs each week too.

The thing is I am so scared that my arteries are going to get blocked more that I’m not really living a full life. I’m back at work and going through each day smiling and telling everyone I’m doing well but I’m avoiding coffee and cake dates with friends, avoiding meals out with family, avoiding birthdays and celebrations. I know I’m not eating enough calories each day even though I know I need more as exercising more and even though I know my body needs some fats and sugars and even some cholesterol!

Unfortunately, I have suffered with a deep, dull chest ache and some jaw pain since having the stents and had three trips to a & e as so worried! Each time I was reassured that it wasn’t cardiac related and now told probably gastric - I was prescribed 40mg omeprazole yesterday so I have everything crossed that this will help.

I guess my question is ‘does it get better?’

Does this shadow of fear diminish with time?

I have always been a positive person who looks for the good in every situation, sought solutions when faced with a problem but I think it’s safe to say I’m struggling with this one so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry for long post!

12 Replies
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Kristin1812
Kristin1812Heart Star

It is tough isn’t it? I do think you have done the right thing coming here.....I’m sure you will gain some confidence with this Forum. Many of us have been on a similar big journey. But for each of us it’s our own journey. I found it a real roller coaster. Highs that I’d survived, and some very difficult lows. Therapy helped......and chocolate!

I’m afraid part of the truth is that it’s still early days for you. It does take time to get used to the new you....and your new ways of doing things (and it sounds like you’ve done amazingly!). Exercise, diet, back to work etc etc,

But I found it was very difficult at times. Very scary.

Now I’m doing well after 9 years. It’s not my old life, but it’s good fun, and I’ve taken lots of new challenges that I never would have done.

Less fear too. I even mostly forget about being someone with heart problems (my daughter said ‘you mustn't let it define you.,,.you are still YOU’.

I’m afraid my ramblings may not help. But you will get to a better place. (Eg you will eventually even get to know better when to go to A and E....IE what’s a physical danger sign and what’s not)

I’m afraid it’s a big adjustment and it does take time.

But you’re doing lots right!

Imin
Imin in reply to Kristin1812

Thank you. It’s good to read that you are doing well 9 years down the line. And thank you for your encouraging words about me having less fear. I am so focused on living a life that is healthy at the minute so I can live a full life in the future that I feel I am missing out a little on the here and now! Maybe I am being a little impatient!

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

Hi

It does get better

I think the problem is with Heart related matters we cant see what's going on , so often worry about this .

Life is for living so dont avoid all those social occasions you enjoyed.

Just try to make healthy choices from the Menu if going out for a meal .

Have the main but no starter or dessert .

Have the odd cake with friends but again substitute if I know I am meeting friends for coffee in the afternoon I forfeit lunch so I can be sociable but will choose a scone instead of a cake and go for a black coffee .

Life's not all about work and fitness you need to relax and destress as well.

Here's to a healthy and happier 2020

Imin
Imin in reply to Rose54

Hi.

Thanks for that - yes, healthy choices if going out is far better than missing out!

I really am hoping to put this into practice very soon. Maybe the first few times will have me slightly fearful of how my arteries will react but I am hoping that this will reduce in time.

A happy and healthy 2020 to you too.

Welcome Imin, it may help you to know that my husband had a major heart attack & cardiac arrest when he was 42, we were told there was no hope of him pulling through. He did pull through & he has followed the BHF recommended diet & lifestyle etc since with occasional treats and has never had another heart attack. He was diagnosed with heart failure in 2012 but even that is well controlled with medication. My husband will be 65 this year so yes it does get better. Your fear is totally understandable & it's early days for you but it will eventually subside. Don't be too hard on yourself, maybe consider counselling?

Imin
Imin in reply to Lezzers

Hi.

I’m glad to hear your husband is doing well 23 years on after his heart attack and still doing well after his diagnosis in 2012!

I am determined to get back to enjoying life as I did before the HA so am accepting any help and advice offered - I am on a waiting list for a bit of counselling.

I have so much to enjoy - two beautiful daughters, a loving husband, 4 sisters and a brother who have been through a lot this year but have also been with me every step of my recovery so far and lots of extremely good and supportive friends.

I just have to get my mindset back on kilter. I think that if the omeprazole helps with the physical symptoms of chest pain I’ve been experiencing then I will be able to get passed some of the fear I have been experiencing.

Thanks so much for replying...it has given me hope!

After my triple bypass I could manufacture a panic attack in seconds and became so breathless I thought I was dying. I think this is quite normal and I really feel for you with your symptoms. It’s a frightening experience . Six months on I have gone from fearful to fearless. It’s good to talk about it and glad you expressed your fear. All I can say is that it does pass

Imin
Imin in reply to Pollypuss

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Things are getting better with panic episodes getting fewer and further time between each. I’m not quite at the fearless point you have reached but getting there!

Thanks again, it was kind of you to reply

Hi, from your comments it seems that on the plus side you have a loving husband, kids and brothers and sisters.

On the minus side your missing some cake and other crap food that probably contributed to the heart attack in the first place.

Initially it is very scary but it gets a lot better and if you have to go without a few bits of cake to enjoy many more years with your family it seems like you have plenty to look forward to.

Do what Lessers husband did and look forward to your daughters weddings and playing with the gran kids

TBF, the body probably can't detect a lot of difference between bread with fruit and a piece of sponge cake. It's when people have both, and double the amount of insulin stimulated that the complications start.

And as you know, reducing the (natural) fat exacerbates the problem, as does eating frequently (little and often is terrible advice).

Imin
Imin in reply to fergusthegreat

Thank you for taking time to reply. You’re absolutely right to point out how lucky I am to have my lovely family and friends and I cherish them daily.

I am more than happy to forego cake and other, as you say, crap foods to gain time with my family and friends and very much hope to be here to share my daughters milestones in their lives. What I am not happy to forego is all the social/celebration occasions that go along with such foods!!

You said that my eating such foods probably contributed to my HA...that’s what I thought since I have never smoked or drank alcohol, I’m not overweight and I lead an active life with exercise. On discharge I was told I have no modifiable risk factors so I felt a little out of control. If I had been told to stop smoking, cut out alcohol, lose weight or exercise more then I would have had something to control and act on - to be told to keep doing what you are doing to reduce risk just didn’t make sense to me as I’d had a HA doing what I was doing! I did enjoy cake and coffee with my friends but not everyday, usually for someone’s birthday!

My point in my post was that I had cut all ‘treats’ to a dangerous level as I was losing weight I could not afford to lose because of a feeling of guilt that eating the odd cake, chocolate, biscuit or crisps had nearly lost my children their mum. I was so scared I would block my arteries further I was avoiding occasions with friends and family as I didn’t want them worrying about me refusing the cake and chocolates. My GP actually told me to try to have the odd treat as life is for enjoying and I was now deemed medically underweight. She told me my body needed some fat to absorb the vitamins and minerals I was eating in bucketloads!!!

I took it too far...I lived on fish, veg, fruit and whole grains. My cardiac nurse kept telling me to eat everything, including treats, in moderation. She told me this while picking a biscuit out of a tin the department had been given as a thank you gift! The trouble is no one has ever given a prescription for what moderation is! 😉

I have now actually enjoyed some birthday cake since writing the post and even the odd chocolate. I’ve introduced cheese and chicken back into my diet and am getting good fats in with oily fish and eggs. I am back to a healthy weight and trying to get on top of my fears. Like most who visit this forum, my fear is born from not being able to see how my arteries are getting on so I just have to trust the meds and my diet and exercise are doing the trick and, in the words of my cardiologist, significantly reducing the risk of further HA’s and slowing future progression of heart disease.

Thanks again for replying. I do look forward to enjoying all my days with my family and friends and am thankful for them all.

fergusthegreat
fergusthegreat in reply to Imin

Yes I agree, it's the not knowing what going on in your arteries that I found hard in the beginning but it does get easier.

Take care 👍

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