Mended Hearts Open Forum

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  • 1.  PTSD

    Posted 01-07-2020 09:10

    From one "Jersey Boy" (Haddonfield) to another: great start to the complicated, but often overlooked, subject of survivors asking: why me?

    My being in the 3% who survive their heart stopping followed by a quintuple bypass raised the question with me. My answer of genes, physical condition, location where it occurred, skill of the medical professionals, was not entirely satisfying. While my factual approach developed while trying cases as a lawyer, I could not shake the feeling that some greater force had spared me for a reason: but what was it?

    I could not contribute any scientific or medical break through. At first I rejected, as too painful, to use my analytical background of being a professor and lawyer, to relive, analyze and share my thoughts during, and conclusions, on rehabilitating. But the feeling of needing to help others was too great, so I wrote "One Heart-Two Lives: Managing Your Rehabilitation Program WELL." The sequence of my experience provides a structure for offering research from authoritative sources. 

    My daughter was a motivator when she said, "Dad, I am sorry you had a heart problem. But if you did, I wish you had had it sooner." This showed me how much my experience had changed me. Then she said, "Dad, you need to include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in your book. Since I was not sure that I had experienced it, I put PTSD as Appendix 2. 

    Here are the numbers: Each year 1.4 million patients are discharged from a hospital after a heart attack or other coronary event. Of this number (equivalent of the population of Philadelphia), 168,000 (population of Chattanooga or Sydney)  will develop "clinically significant" symptoms of PTSD, for 1 in 8, or 12%, which is 900% greater than the estimated 1.3% of the general population. 

    Note that not every traumatized person will get PTSD, and for those who do it varies in severity. Most cases last one to six months and can be addressed by discussions with sources like Mended Hearts.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Brent Zepke   



  • 2.  RE: PTSD

    Posted 01-07-2020 18:14
    It is helpful for me. PTSD, survivors guilt are very real after heart surgery. I had/have PTSD. I am self diagnosing me with survivors guilt because I don't feel depressed like I not happy with myself. I'm super sad when it involves a passing away of someone. I hope talking it out and listening to what others have to say or experience help me work it out with myself. It's not about what medication can help. Thank you.

    Carrie Kashani
    White Bear Lake MN

  • 3.  RE: PTSD

    Posted 01-12-2020 17:55

    Seven years ago, i was listed as the "3% chance of survival" too.  My open heart surgery ( for mitro valve repair) was complicated by Cardiogenic shock on the operating table.  Then they put me in a medically induced coma. However  Its my Husband who suffered the PTSD.  Fortunately there was no permanent damage ( except some  thinning of my hair) to any of my organs.   The support from family Friends and eventually Mended Hearts has helped my husband.  He goes faithfully to the men's breakfast as well as meetings, and has become program chairman for our chapter.  Postoperatively, i did not suffer any depression; guess the doctors gave me the correct balance of antidepressants and   anti anxiety medicines. 

    Marilyn Rosenhouse
    Dallas TX
    (214) 850-0219

  • 4.  RE: PTSD

    Posted 01-08-2020 16:44

    I never asked "why me" after my heart attack and quintuple bypass (must be a lawyer thing--I'm one too).  I knew that the correct answer was why not me.  We're all part of the same universe, arriving here from where we do not understand and one day departing to where we do not know.  I learned, well before the heart attack, that there is no purpose in life other than to live it, right here, right now, without judgment or expectation of what should or shouldn't be or happen.  And so, I never did suffer PTSD.  I did, however, change dramatically from the experience.

    I was never an ungrateful person, but the sense of gratitude I felt, from the time I awoke from my two week medically induced coma (post-surgery pneumonia complications) to the present day, is beyond anything I ever felt in my prior life.  During my ICU stay, a Christ-like male nurse that cared for me responded to my tearful discharge farewell to him, during which I expressed to him my deep gratitude, by telling me that I owed him nothing because Christ died for all of us.  By the way, I am a Jew and long time Zen Buddhist practitioner, having no affiliation with Christianity other than that my wife is Catholic and my daughter self-identifies as Catholic.  I never lost that sense of gratitude and connection to others that I felt in the hospital and that I believe this very special nurse somehow transmitted to me.

    And so, I have not suffered from PTSD, but I have walked through my daily working and social life, ever since my discharge, with an underlying, ever present awareness of our deeper connection with one another and with all that exists, and an understanding that this awareness has transformed my life and my relationship to others.

    All the best,


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ