Change Must Happen

During a conversation with a friend, she told me about someone she knew who had a heart attack in January. Unfortunately for this person, he was not making any changes to his eating habits. His wife said she was too tired when she came home from work to cook and he said he didn’t know how. He continued to eat the same convenience foods and eat the same restaurant foods –  the same ones that contributed to his condition in the first place.

This saddens me, because it doesn’t have to be this way. This person should keep in mind that the foods he ate and the habits he had are what brought him to his heart attack, and medicines alone will not prevent another. Changes must be made.

My husband was committed to avoid repeating his experience and so he took his recovery very seriously. And so did I. We cleaned out the cupboards and removed the foods that contributed to the heart attack and I started cooking better meals. We stopped going to restaurants and he started going to the gym. Over a year later and 50 pounds less (for each of us)   –  he’s doing very well and has reduced his risk for future heart events significantly.

I understand it may be hard for some of you; some of you may not have a spouse/partner who is willing or able to help. But there is so much information out there, so many resources, you must make this your priority. If you don’t have anyone to cook for you perhaps this is the time you can learn. You must take your doctor’s recommendations seriously and you must make changes. As the saying goes “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. Please, make the changes now.

Reach out to friends and family, reach out to me – let’s work on making the changes so you can continue to live and become healthier day by day.

Other’s Experiences

Sometimes hearing about other people experiences related to heart health issues and how they recovered and how they deal with ‘life after’ can be helpful. We (the medical teams, the patient, the family) spend a lot of time concentrating on how the physical body recovers and what has happened (i.e. surgically) and what needs to happen (i.e. medications, changes in movement and food, etc) but we often forget that there are mental and emotional changes too.

Some people go through guilt (I should have taken better care of myself), anger (why did this happen to me?) and shock (how could this happen to me?) and fear (when is the next one? will I survive another one?), sadness (I will never be like I was before) These are all common and valid emotions. If you feel any of these emotions, please please reach out to your doctor or other other health professionals for advise, counselling and maybe even medication, such as anti-depressants, if your doctor approves.

Some change their perspective on life – for example J definitely ‘does not sweat the small stuff”. He no longer worries about certain things, often not even letting some things “in”.

Not to capitalize on celebrity, but below is a video from the director Kevin Smith, who at 47 years old had a heart attack and had a stent put in his LAD artery. I like his recount of the situation as I think it might help some of you to hear another survivor’s story. I also like his outlook at the end surrounding some controversy concerning comments made by Chris Pratt – Kevin’s response was “don’t fight about that”.

Here’s the video I’m referring to (sorry I can’t seem to find a better copy without making you log into Facebook):

Warning – adult language is used. //cdnapisec.kaltura.com/p/591531/sp/59153100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/6740162/partner_id/591531?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_1413478522&entry_id=0_eiwz2lp4Also, here’s a link explaining the Widow Maker Heart attack 

 

Taking Your Recovery Seriously

Almost everyone I talk to has a personal experience relating to heart issues – either they themselves – or someone they know has experience with  heart attack or stroke, open heart or by-pass surgery or stents etc. Most are following the expert’s recommendations and making changes to their diet and ways of life, but every now and again, I hear someone tell me a story about someone that does not. These individuals don’t make an effort to lose weight, they continue to make poor food choices including poor quality foods and/or consuming large quantities of alcohol. Maybe they don’t know how to change, maybe they don’t have the support network, I’m not sure of the answers (I will share if/when I do have a better explanation  – or perhaps you’d like to comment?)

I acknowledge that I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert in the field, but truly it doesn’t take an expert to realize that you need to follow the advice your health care professionals are giving you. Their recommendations are not to be ignored.

If you take away one thing from this blog, I strongly urge you to listen to the professional’s advice and make the recommended changes to your diet, take your medications, incorporate physical fitness into your life, follow through with the Cardiac Rehabilitation programs offered at your hospital, keep your meetings with the dietician or nutritionist. If these programs and services are offered to you, like they are here in the Vancouver area – please take advantage of these opportunities.

If you do not want a repeat “performance” you must make the changes.  There’s an old saying “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”. Not making changes  will most likely bring you right back to having heart trouble again. For you or your loved ones, I’m sure you don’t want to go through all that pain again. Your future depends on it.

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Food from Friends

I am lucky to have a support group of friends so once word went around about our situation, so many reached out to share their thoughts and caring words of support – they offered suggestions for resources and encouragement and I appreciated all of it.

The biggest gift I received was the gift of food. One of my friends rallied several others and they presented us with 3 bags of prepared meals  – including spices mixed like Mrs. Dash, and Ancient Grain pastas – plus soup, chilli, lasagna, breakfast smoothie ingredients, prepared salads and more (details on food still to come). pexels-photo-90893.jpeg Continue reading “Food from Friends”

The First Days Home – Sleep

pexels-photo-545012.jpegThe 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.

Continue reading “The First Days Home – Sleep”