Mended Hearts Open Forum

Expand all | Collapse all

New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

  • 1.  New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-02-2020 18:47
    In March, most of the world shut down due to Coronavirus.
    On April 23rd, my mother died suddenly at the age of 73.  
    On May 22, I had a massive heart attack.  100% blockage of my LAD (widowmaker). I had an emergency catheterization that day, took 3 stents to open the LAD blockage.  Two weeks later I had another cath and two more stents to open 4 more blockages on the back of my heart. 

    To say that this is has all been overwhelming is an understatement.  I'm only 53.....I don't even have any gray hair yet, for Pete's Sake.  I do, however, have a strong family history of heart disease, and was a heavy smoker for 35 years (I quit cold turkey, my last cig was on my way to the hospital while having my heart attack...a good thing in the long run, but right now still feels like another trauma in my life, lol). 

    Physically, I guess I am doing okay.  I got virtually NO discharge instructions from the hospital. I can't get into cardiac rehab until at least mid-July. I'm having a heck of a time getting through to my caridiologist or GP if I have a problem.....Covid-19 has the whole health care system bogged down.  But even worse, I am really struggling emotionally.  I don't trust my own body anymore. Every flutter, twinge, or pinch seems potentially fatal....I joke with my husband that every day is a new rousing game of "WTH Was THAT??!?"  I still feel fairly weak (last cath was on 6/18), and frustrated that I can't do many of the things I usually do.  Add to that a complete loss of income for 4 months due to Coronavirus (with hospital bills starting to roll in) and trying to cope with the death of a parent of top of everything else.  I need a therapist....but can't seem to find one of those due to Coronavirus, docs put in psych consults, but so far have found nothing.  

    I'm hoping to be able to connect with some people here who know what I am going through and can offer advice, support, and friendship.  I will try to do the same. 

    Tracy Rhodes
    Charleston SC

  • 2.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-03-2020 08:41

    Wow. You've had quite a  year so far.

    I've found that connecting with other heart patients helps a lot, so I'm glad you found Mended Hearts. There are no support programs in my area (rural South) so online resources are important to me.

    Coronavirus precautions can make it hard, but also I find that connecting with local friends helps keep me in balance. It's wonderful to be distracted from my own troubles.

    I don't know what your insurance situation is, but my provider (United Healthcare) offers a "tele-health" counseling program through a company called AbleTo ( I've done two 8-week programs with them via telephone sessions (video sessions are also offered) that have been very helpful and easy to do when it's so hard to get to see providers in person. The programs are considered preventive medical counseling, designed to help me adjust to my new, cardiac-challenged life, and apparently offered at no charge through a variety of insurance programs.

    There are also a lot of resources on the American Heart Association website (

    Jean McMillan

  • 3.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-04-2020 13:23
    Let me add a couple things:
    1.) While waiting for cardio-rehab to start, with your doctor's okay, just start daily walks. Don't strain. Do whatever's comfortable -- but feel like you're making an effort.
    (That's what CR will tell you.) You will find your endurance and walk-duration increasing.
    2.) All those twinges/reactions are normal stuff. After a while, they will be of more concern to your husband than yourself. You may react externally, while internally knowing it is no big deal. So be prepared to reassure him. (I had to do this for my wife.)
    3.) Discuss an anti-depressant with your doctor. Even a low dose was helpful to me. (Actually it was helpful even before I had enough in my system to be working. Thank God for the placebo effect.)
    Stay positive! You can not begin to grasp now how much better you can get.
    Bob Levin
    Co-author (with Adele Levin) of I WILL KEEP YOU ALIVE

    Bob] Levin
    Berkeley CA

  • 4.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-03-2020 10:19
    Tracy, you will find many people in this group to help you through this. I, too, had my first event at 53. Mine was a triple bypass. But that was 30 years ago. I relied on a bulletin board back then. The internet was just a dream at that time. Stay in contact with the people you meet on here. They've been through the same thing and they are awake when others are not. I went through a lot of sleepless nights back them and would get on the computer looking for anyone still awake.  Covid has made it difficult to get rehab and this group is the next best thing. I struggled with getting physically in shape again. You may have scar tissue in your heart from the heart attack. Only time will tell if you have to scale back physically. Emotionally you need someone to correspond with. It helps to talk with others who have been through it. I am available if you want to talk privately. I'm no longer awake all night but I do stay up until midnight, 1 am for where you live. A private reply would let us exchange email addresses.

    George Howard
    Dallas - Fort Worth Texas area.

    George Howard
    Hurst TX
    (817) 282-2403

  • 5.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-03-2020 10:19
    Hello Tracy,
    What Jean mentioned is very helpful. Almost all insurance programs offer these types of services at no or little cost. There may also be county or state helplines available in your area that offer to counsel.
    Mended Hearts on line also offers search options where you may be able to contact folks in your local area and you can have side conversations and share information on email after you make contact.
    I am glad you quit smoking. I lost two brothers, 56 and 65, both heavy smokers. I am also glad you found this forum. I have received some good information from other members of this forum. Also just knowing you are not alone in your situation helped me during my initial healing after my heart surgery. 
    I am sorry about the loss of your mother on top of all else going on. You keep holding on to the good memories of her and remember that she would want you to do everything you can to heal and get better. All of us within Mended Hearts want the same for you as well. 
    You will beat this and you will get to feeling better. The fact you went online and found this forum is proof you are doing better. It shows you want to be better. Right now all you need os more patients. 
    Remember to listen to your body. It will recover but it needs to craw before if can walk. Go into the forum and read all the messages from others and you will see lots of folks dealing with the same frustrations and fears. 
    We are with you. You will get better soon. 

    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 6.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-03-2020 10:39
    Hi Tracy,
    Welcome to the group! I'm so very sorry for the loss of your mother, and for the loss of your income.. I had an emergency double bypass May 15, 2019. It came as quite a surprise since I have always been active and somewhat healthy. (Although I have been a diabetic for 20 years now).
     I know how you feel, I was having a hard time with my recovery as well, I'm only 55.
    Around 12-14 weeks post op I felt the "cardiac blues" coming on. During that time I reached out to this group and met the most amazing people. They really helped me pull through it by sharing their experiences, offering kind words of advice, and helping me to see that I wasn't alone.
    I also started seeing a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy. She has really helped me to get back in the here and now and not always being so focused on my heart and what could happen.
    Your cardiac rehab will help you as well, not only physically but emotionally too. I was the youngest one in my group, by many years, AND the only female for about the first month. That was a bit difficult at first. But after a few sessions I realized age is just a number and being the only female was really no big deal, I made some beautiful new friendships. I continued with their maintenance program until I went back to work this past Jan. I sure miss all my fellow rehabbers and the most wonderful nurses!
    You are still very early on in your recovery. I remember having twinges, clicks, pops, aches and pains in my chest as well. Always wondering if it was going to be the BIG one! It was just my chest healing. It took me about a full year to start feeling myself again, well my "new" self. I still have times when I have discomfort in my chest but have been told it can even take up to 1.5 years to fully heal.
    Two weeks ago I was moving furniture, actually just sliding a few pieces across my living room floor. I ended up in the ER the next day with the worst chest pains ever, thinking oh no, well this is it!! After many tests it was determined to be muscle spasms. I was able to telemedicine my cardiologist the next day and was told to take it easy for the next few weeks because I could still displace my wires. 
    I've been teleworking now since March 16 and was recently told I may be home until end of summer 2021. I'm just so very fortunate to still be working so I've adjusted to being home all the time. I lost my father May 31, so still dealing with that. I couldn't see him much before his passing due to the COVID, but very thankful I was able to be by his side when he passed. Dealing with being in the high-risk group has given me some new fears and anxieties now, so needless to say I've started doing the telemedicine with my therapist. I would call your insurance to see if that is available for you and would definitely recommend it. Also, remember you have all of us here in this group.
    One of the nurses in my cardiac rehab told me, "one step forward, two steps back" and to always remember that.
    Best of luck to you with your recovery. Try not to get too frustrated. It just takes time, you'll get there! You can do it!!
    Have a great and safe weekend : )

    michelle leverett
    Ridgecrest CA

  • 7.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-03-2020 17:39
    Dear Tracy
    my sympathy comes to for the loss of your mother. May her memory be a blessing to you and a roll model for you. How you must miss her.

    As for all your heart issues, you are an amazing person and so is your husband , your caregiver., to survive all that . I am glad you found Mended Hearts
    its expected that you do not feel up to your usual strength. You need time to heal after all that. ( and suffering Nicotine withdrawal too) . Please Let your friends help you.!!!! Rest as much as you can. Rest is how your body and heart recover from all that “excitement .“
    Keep calling your doctors as you need. its their job ... the nurses are helpful with practical tips

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 8.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-04-2020 07:10
    I think Michelles nurse meant recovery is " 2 steps forward , one step backward" . improvement is gradual.  If frustrating, many others seem to bounce back quickly.  The medical profession says it tskes s year to arrive at your new normal. this is not a scientific number.  You have some recovery symptoms that will overnight disappear ( I had  lots of  confused thoughts, then one day i realized that
    my thinking was normal for the past few days ...  other writers here will say that I am still confused .)

    Marilyn Rosenhouse
    Dallas TX
    (214) 850-0219

  • 9.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-04-2020 10:43
    Hahaha yes Marilyn that's what I meant to say. Next time I reply I won't be distracted and should probably proofread before I hit send. Although there were times when I felt like I was taking 2 steps back😂😂😂
    Enjoy your day😀

    michelle leverett
    Ridgecrest CA

  • 10.  RE: New and more than a bit Overwhelmed....

    Posted 07-04-2020 07:46
    Hi Tracy, welcome to the group.  I'm a pretty new member myself, and have already received so much help and support here.  So sorry about the loss of your mother.  You've had a challenging year, physically, emotionally, financially.  I echo the sentiments of the others that suggest telehealth counselling.  I would also recommend learning what you can about stress management techniques, specifically "here and now" thinking.  There is a lot of info out there, including some great Ted talks and You Tube videos.  I'll see if I can find you some links.
    Being young can be a double-edged sword.  It benefits you physically bc you're often more fit than you would be if you were 20 or 30 years older, but the draw into the "pity party" can be more tempting.  "Why me, I'm so young?" I am roughly your age (55).  I found out on Christmas Eve I was going to need open heart surgery to correct a "giant" atrial septal aneurysm.  But I also found out I had a stone blocking a bile duct in my liver which needed to be taken care of first, and it ended up needing three surgeries and I got pancreatitis and a hospital stay as a bonus.  Add to that the same stressors as everyone else with Corona Virus, plus I had a new job and therefore would not qualify for disability, and let's add in recently divorced, so now single Mom of six kids (all grown now but several with special needs still needing a lot of care).  So sometimes I feel like all of that amplifies the weird little signals my body is sending me.  This group has helped me to take a chill pill like I take the rest of my medicine, and to give my body the time and patience it needs.  Otherwise I would go screaming into the night.  So one step at a time, Tracy.  Breathe.  You got this!
    And PS: congrats on kicking the nic!  Don't ever pick up a cigarette again.  It's the single worst thing you can do for your body, and it's what killed my 72 year old Mom four years ago.

    Anne Birdsong
    Occupational Therapist