Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Post Heart Attack Stun Re-Hash Including Post Heart Attack Depression

I originally wrote Post Heart Stun on Friday May 11, 2012. It has been a long journey since this was first written. Since then, Jen Thorson at My Life In Red asked me to guest post last February and I used this post. Carolyn Thomas at Heart Sisters ran The Weirdness of Post Heart Attack Stun.  I am extremely honored to have both of these fabulous ladies ask me to be a part of their most excellent blogs.

I look back at this post and would love to be back there. I wrote this when I was doing really well with weight loss and I was feeling on top of the world. This was just a month before I found out that I was on the verge of another heart attack and would have to have two additional stents placed.

That was a really bad time and the really bad time has lasted a really, really long time.  I used to scoff at what has been termed post heart attack depression. Me, depression? NEVER!! I survived my massive heart attack, narrowly missed a second one, I am alive, what could I possibly be depressed about??

Well self, glad you survived the post heart attack stun but meet post heart attack depression. It is crushing at times. Here I was doing so well only to have it all be for naught. At least that is how I felt after the second trip to the cath lab. The depression took hold and I have only recently beat it.  Only now can I write about it.

The depression makes you feel like why bother if I am never really going to be "better."  I can never be better. I will always have heart disease and at best, all I can do is manage it. So, welcome back cookies--nice to see you again.  Welcome back meat and dairy--my depressed self missed you.  And, welcome back the pounds that I use to mask depression. So shit, instead of being down 30 pounds, I now have that back plus 20. Actually, plus 10 since I have lost 10 since the first of the year. Even though I am heading the right direction again, sucks to be back here.

I have come to understand that I should have expected the depression, but really??? I struggle with how to admit depression when really I was so thankful to still be alive.  Those do not seem to go hand in hand and I still have a hard time reconciling the two. So, I have quit trying to reconcile them and in giving up this struggle, I have found huge relief. 

Why do I tell you this and why do I put it out there?  I do it because so many women suffer heart disease. I do this because when someone is frantically trying to make sense of a heart attack in their 40's, 30's or even younger that, hopefully, they can find solace in the fact that someone else has been there and emerged a stronger person for it. The way I found solace when I found Jen and Carolyn's blogs surfing the internet for answers in the middle of the night. There they were, understanding leaping from the computer monitor.

What a great month to be a heart attack survivor! I hope you will join me on Friday for National Wear Red for Women day. Help me spread the word to the women in your life that heart disease is their number one killer--killing one in three women and killing more women than all forms of cancer combined.  Go Red for me and send me a picture! Email me at jjacksonjayhawkfan@gmail.com,  post one on Twitter @skinnybitchchro, if I have met you outside of the internet world whether as a friend or a business associate, you can send me a FB friend request -- Jodi Hunt Jackson and post a pic to my FB page or you can post a pic to my Skinny Bitch Chronicles FB page .

Here is the original post that ran on Friday May 11, 2012:

Post Heart Attack Stun

So over on the Facebook Page yesterday I posted about not going vegan until Jan 1 because of post heart attack stun.  Post heart attack stun is what I call the period following the heart attack where everything seems so surreal and you really don't absorb what has happened.

Once I was out of the cath lab, they wheeled me up to the ICU.  There was lots of talking from the doctors and the nurses. I really didn't absorb much of it.  Quite honestly, I could hardly believe I'd had a heart attack.  I most certainly could not absorb the seriousness of the situation.  It was much like I would envision an out of body experience.  It was hard to absorb any of it because I knew I’d had a heart attack yet, I didn’t feel like it.  The symptoms I had experienced were nothing like what I thought a heart attack would be.  I never lost consciousness…hell, they didn’t give me anything more than Valium and Versed during my surgery.  I watched it all on the flat screens.  To me, this is not the picture of a massive heart attack.

I know my friends and family had a hard time absorbing it too.  On that Thursday after my husband, ex-husband and kids left and I was alone in the room, it was probably 10:00pm.  I called my friend Deb and this is how our conversation goes:  

Deb:  “Hey, what are you up to?”
Me:   “I just had a heart attack.”
Deb:  “Over what?”
Me:  “Seriously, I just had a heart attack and I just got out of the cath lab. I’m      
           in the ICU."
Deb:  Stunned silence.
This is how most of my conversations went immediately following the heart attack. I was 42 and so are most of them.  I can picture just what they were feeling.  Jodi is 42, so am I.  That is too young.  That is what I thought too.
As the sun came up Friday morning, I had a steady stream of docs, nurses, counselors, and cardiac rehab folks in and out of my room.  Each one telling me I was very lucky and I had done everything right.  At this point, I still have no idea of the seriousness of the heart attack I had suffered.  No one used the term “widow-maker”.  Even if they had used that term, I wouldn’t have understood.  Friday night, they moved me out of the ICU and into a regular room.  I got to go home on Saturday and refused all pain and anxiety meds when I went home.

By Tuesday, I made an appointment with my family doctor because I desperately needed the pain meds.  The femoral artery incision site and all of the surrounding bruising turned out to be very, very painful. He has access to the hospital records but didn’t realize I’d had a heart attack.  When he looked at the records, he said, “Oh boy, you survived the widow-maker.  Did you know only 20% of women survive it?”  This was my first indication that I could actually absorb of what had really happened.  He spent much more time with me than I know he had scheduled and I will forever appreciate it.  We went back over all of my test results from my physical that I had just had about 7 weeks prior to the heart attack.  He was just as surprised as me.

What really brought me out of the post heart attack stun and into a change mode was a show I watched in November.  I watched CNN's "The Last Heart Attack."  What I watched there truly frightened me.  It was then that I started researching everything that had happened to me.  I was mostly frightened by the things I came across.  I made the decision to drastically alter my lifestyle and go plant based on January 1, 2012.(No need to set myself up to fail over the holidays.)

Once I was able to emerge from the stun, I was able to take control of my life and make the decision not to let this happen to me again.  It has been very liberating.  As of today, the scale is down 30 lbs and I weigh exactly what I did the day I got married almost four years ago.  I have 23 more pounds and will have hit the goal weight of being in a healthy BMI for my height.  The skinny bitch is in sight!

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