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.

Startup Stock Photos

Where it began

Our story starts on January 10, 2017.  It was a normal Tuesday morning, my husband left for work as usual  but around 10am he started to feel “odd”. He was sweating profusely and his wrist hurt. He had always heard about pain in the arm being a warning sign for a heart attack – but for him, it was his wrist.  He went into the restroom but the strange feeling worsened so he walked past everyone straight out the door and drove himself to the hospital which was about 15 minutes away. His father had had a heart attack 2 years prior, but delayed going to the hospital – by the time he finally sought medical help, too much damage was done and unfortunately he did  not survive. J wanted a much better outcome and took the symptoms very seriously.

He arrived at the Emergency department and was prepared with all the appropriate paperwork. He told the admitting nurse he was having chest pains but she told him to take a seat in the waiting room (we’ve since been told he should have said he had ‘difficulty breathing”). He wasn’t in the waiting room chair for more than a minute when he apparently collapsed in full cardiac arrest. An emergency team was on him immediately starting with CPR and defibrillating multiple times, working fiercely for  20+ minutes to save his life – his heart stopping multiple times –  it took about 2 hours of emergency measures to stabilize him enough for transport We’ve since learned from the head of the Emergency Department that there were basically out of options, a final measure was to try  sodium bicarbonate to stop the lactic acidosis and helped with the stabilization. Months later, he said to us “it was a long shot, last-ditch effort – it wasn’t supposed to work”. We’re thankful they tried it anyway and that it worked.

Continue reading “Where it began”