And the Bad News Is
By Warren Selkow, Patient
Heart Disease Diagnosis Top Ten Responses
- “Oh my god, I am going to die!”
- “I knew it. I just knew it.”
- “Oh damn. Can it get any worse?”
- “What am I supposed to do now?”
- “I told you so.”
- Dumb struck silence.
- “How long do I have?”
What the Heart Disease Doctors Tell Me
The comments above are what cardiologists tell me are the most common comments made by people who have just been told the tests have conclusively proved they have heart disease. What was your reaction when the doctor told you? Pretty much the same, huh? I responded, “Can’t be.” Of course, it could be and it was and I was really sick. How sick did you think you were? That bad? Yeah, me too. Get over it. You have come to the right place for help.
The Top Six Caregiver Concerns
What the Caregiver of a New Heart Disease Patient Hears...
The about to be caregiver hears something very different from the newly diagnosed pa-tient. The news will generally give a caregiver pause and then all the questions begin. The questions and concerns will probably fall into the following general categories:
- How serious is this
- Where do I learn about this
- How will I get my patient to take this seriously
- How will I get my patient to stick to a diet
- How will I get my patient to take the medicine
- What can I expect
The book, The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease and Other Chronic Diseases will answer all those questions in great detail. This short article is not capable of addressing all the issues in the detail the caregiver needs. In point of fact, the caregiver needs to know everything the patient does and a whole lot more. It is harder to be a heart disease patient caregiver than to be a heart disease patient. And if the patient has other chronic diseases like diabetes, renal failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the role of caregiver is even more onerous.
In order of extremes of heart disease diagnosis, the requirement to have open-heart sur-gery is at the top of the list. Many would state that open-heart surgery is worse than fac-ing the prospect of a compete heart replacement. They state, for better or worse, that a heart replacement gives the patient a brand new heart that is free from disease.
Those that have open-heart surgery have a repaired but still have a sick heart. A new re-placement has no cardiac disease. No clogs, no aneurisms, no uneven beats, no choles-terol concerns. It is hard to fault that logic. In its’ way, it makes very good sense. However, people with cardiac disease usually are not prospect for a total replacement because a transplant cannot cure the underlying reasons for their disease. Besides, there aren’t enough to go around.
The implication of open-heart surgery is the requirement to change the lifestyle. We talk more about lifestyle changes in other features on this site.
Why you are afraid of open-heart surgery?
Show me a person who is not suddenly fear struck when told open-heart surgery is required and I will show you a person who is unconscious. Fear is absolutely the correct response. Panic is not the correct response. Avoiding the subject is absolutely the most incorrect response. You are afraid of the unknown and that is one of the two justifiable fears you can have. The other great fear is the fear of being alone.
Fighting the Fear or The Top Eight Things to Do
- Be afraid
- Revel in the fear
- Complain about the fear
- In fact complain about everything
- Bang your head against a wall
- Beat your chest
- Flagellate yourself for your stupidity
- Curse the fates that brought you to this low point
You have exactly one hour to enjoy that fear and do the above eight items. After that, bite your tongue. Swallow hard and face the fact that you are going to have open-heart surgery or not, the choice is entirely yours.
Caregiver Fear or the Other Three Fears
The patient is not the only one that has to face this. The caregiver, the poor sot that has to stand by and watch, is going to have all the same fears as the patient, plus a few more:
- What will happen to me if the worst occurs
- Will I be able to do everything I will need to do
- What happens next
In other features on this site we address all those fears. In the book, The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease and Other Chronic Diseases, we address every-thing the caregiver needs to know in great detail.
Why You Need Open Heart Surgery or the Four Reasons you Need Open Heart Surgery
As Lou Costello often said, “I have been a bad boy.” You have been something less than intelligent in how you have lived your life. You have probably done the following:
- Not exercised on a regular basis
- Not paid any attention to your diet especially as how it pertains to good and bad fats and salt intake
- Not heeded any warnings from any quarter that you might be at risk. You proba-bly had the attitude it was not going to happen to you. Well, guess you got that wrong. (Don’t feel bad. Me, too.)
- Believed you are too young to have heart disease. Guess what, you are not too young.
Your disease has progressed to the point where your options have systematically been taken away from you. Your arteries and veins have blocks that can now only be repaired by surgery. Here is the bad news: Buck up and get on with it. Here is the good news: It could be a lot worse.
What you need to know about open-heart surgery or the Top Ten Things you Need to Know
Let me be brief and brutally honest (I have had two open-heart surgeries so I know of what I talk.)
- It hurts
- It works
- You will be much better afterward
- The cardiologists and surgeons have the whole experience from their areas of responsibilities down cold
- The success rate is astronomical
- You will get through it
- Your first five days after the surgery will be the worst
- The next six weeks will be hard
- You will be able to return to your life in less than three months if you follow all the advice offered in The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease.
- You are going to have to change your ways
What your family needs to know about open-heart surgery or The Top Seven Family Issues
Not only do you as the patient have to be prepared for the surgery, your family needs to be like-wise prepared. Here is what your caregiver, family and friends need to know about you:
- You are going to be very sore and impatient
- You are going to be unhappy and depressed
- You are going to get better
- Your residence will have to be prepared for your recovery
- You will need empathy and not sympathy
- You will have to live with heart disease for the rest of your life
- Your family and friends will have to help you change your ways
What you should do prior to the open-heart surgery or The Eight Most Important things to do before you go to the hospital
Many times there is a mad rush to get you into surgery. Open-heart surgery is rarely an emergency situation. The doctors will do all in their power to force you to the operating room. Call a short time out. You need to get mentally prepared. I was seriously sick and yet I was able to delay the surgery for two to three week in both cases and I was really, really sick. Here is a list of, in my opinion, the eight most important things for you to do prior to the surgery:
- Get a haircut
- Get your teeth cleaned
- Prepare an advanced directive
- Prepare a will (this is more of a reassurance step than a real requirement)
- Get your home prepared for your return after the surgery
- Get yourself resigned and mentally prepared for the procedure
- Go with the flow and don’t fight it.
- Start following the procedures and life style you will have to follow after your surgery. Healing begins immediately following diagnosis.
Know this: You are going to be okay. The system for your procedure and your recovery has been well practiced and is well established.
We will see you on the other side when you return to this site for the information you will need to live a long and happy life afterwards.
For the caregiver: you are going to get through this.
Good luck and don’t worry. We will be here for you on the other side.
For all the information about all the above items please read, The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease and Other Chronic Diseases.