The first days home are tough for the family/support for multiple reasons – the patient is weak from the heart event and they are recovering from trauma and surgery and new medications – as well as many other factors.
One of the biggest adjustments for J was sleep. In the hospital he barely slept. He couldn’t find a comfortable position, plus – as many of you know – hospitals aren’t very quiet places. Especially in a cardiac ward where alarms are going off constantly and patients/staff are coming and going.
He was happy to be at home and in his own bed and he was exhausted but he still couldn’t sleep -not only did he have trouble falling asleep but he woke up from panic attacks. Sometimes a couple per night. Sometimes he had only been asleep for about 45 minutes. Sometimes I was awake and watched them happen. It was terrible to watch him go through this. He began to dread even the thought of sleep, but he was so very tired.
We went to his doctor and asked if there was something to help sleep and asked about the panic attacks. Our doctor reminded J of the extreme trauma from the 20 minutes of CPR that his body went through. The first responders were literally fighting to save J’s life and they did all that they could (we are so grateful) but it was very violent. Chest x-rays couldn’t confirm if he had any broken ribs but the doctors were pretty sure a rib or two was probably cracked. We don’t know if J was aware of what was happening to his body as he slipped in and out of life during this time.
His doctor gave him a few day’s worth of some pretty heavy opioid type medications to allow him to sleep but in the end, J decided the risk was too high and he opted to not take them. His panic attacks slowly dissipated, the last one occurring about 4 weeks after being home. Thankfully they have not been back since.