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Caring for a loved one living with a heart condition.
I'm new to the group/forum. My wife had a heart attack in 2012, and fortunately she survived. I am very thankful for the doctors that took care of her during her heart attack, and I'm thankful for her current doctors that take care of her today as she lives with her heart condition. She also suffered CHF Heart Failure in 2017. She is very active and independent, so my caregiving responsibilities are not as challenging as most of you out there. The struggle that I go through is up until recently I was the breadwinner and the only one that worked. My wife was a stay at home mom. Initially I worked 2 full time jobs, and one of those jobs had me working graveyard shift. I've been fortunate my wife has gone back to work part time, and I only work 1 full time job and still keep 3 days a week at my other job. It's much more maneagable.
The challenge has been for me is whenever my wife feels any type of chest pain, her initial reaction is it's another heart attack coming on, this has been her reaction from 2012 until this very day. Whenever she feels any type of chest pain it often results in a call to the ambulance and the ambulance people find out that she is a former heart attack patient and automatically transports her to the hospital. More often than not it's been a false alarm and they keep her for observation at the hospital. This happens about 2 to 3 times a year, and there was one point where we were at the same Emergency Room 3 weekends in a row. With the exception of her heart failure in 2017 most of the trips to the emergency room have been a false alarm.
Well, me being the only person working, these false alarms created a financial burden. Each trip to the hospital via ambulance is about 400 dollars times that by 3 every year, and the overnight hospital stays in the ER add up also. The other expectation is if I'm at work and my wife is at home and she feels a little pain in her chest, the expectation is that I drop everything at work, and come straight home, and I can't always do that. I am trying to balance several balls in the air at once and it's not always easy for me to just drop everything at work and come home, especially if I'm the only one working and bringing in an income and we have all these doctor bills in addition to other bills. If I don't come home right away my wife tells me I don't care about her, and that money is more important to me than her being alive. I don't think this is appropriate to make me feel that I don't love her just because I don't come home everytime she feels something in her chest. I don't think it's a realistic way of living our lives.
We've gotten into many heated arguments about me not always coming home from work. Also, I feel if there is some kind of assessment she can do like a check list that she can go through to let her know that what she's feeling may not warrant a trip to the emergency room or even a call to the ambulance? The hospitals and her doctors aren't much help, they continue to tell her, whenever you feel anything go straight to the doctor or the hospital. I care about my wife and I love her and I don't want anything to happen to her, but as the only one that works and the breadwinner of the family, our medical bills keep piling up.
My wife just got a defibulator installed in her chest, that cost $75,000, that's without insurance. I'm waiting on how much insurance will cover :( I don't feel that my concerns are un-warranted or insenstitive, but I'm sure my wife feels they are. I'm sorry.
AHAASAKatie, July 26, 2019 10:28am EST
AmbassadorB, July 26, 2019 11:48am EST
You're on the right track! The Defibrillater will not only alert the wearer to any unusual heart rhythm, but it will provide reassurance to your wife that she has a reliable "monitor" and she no longer needs to be concerned about any stray or unusual pain or feelings from the heart area. I, too, wear one and am happily going down lifes path. It is not unusual, I am told by the medical world (whom I completely trust!) for temporary, uncomfortable muscle feelings to occur. I am guessing, but it may well be a normal reaction to having a foreign device implanted. She's not alone. I, along with others I have talked with, have experienced stray-temporary pains in the immediate area of the implant. If it is a real (serious) irregular heart episode, she will know it! Then, the trip to the ER is a "let's go - now".
The most important thing that your wife has going for her, is your love! She is naturally concerned about her well being, all of us that have been there & done that know the feeling. Your strength,understanding and love for her are the winning factors that will bring her through!
Don't be shy about seeking advice & help with the Damn medical bills! Financial advisors, family and friends - are there to provide support! Now is the time for them to stand and close ranks with you!
All the best!
Ambassador B (Bernie)
hearthurts2, July 26, 2019 3:09pm EST
Thank you Bernie and Katie for your support and your thoughtful reply. Thank you also for sharing additional resources.
JamesPL, July 26, 2019 5:55pm EST
I know you said her doctors aren't much help but you should strongly consider having a conversation with her cardiologist. If you are not satisified than you should consider changing doctors. I had a quintuple bypass that was discovered after having severe chest pains. That happened in 2011. Since then, every time I get chest pains, I get concerned. I have always called my cardiologist for a consultation. She will typically follow up with a stress test and the results are usually good. After she evaluates the test, she is ususally not concerned and will offer advice and consultation. This doesn't occur multiple times a year but when it does, I will always reach out to her. I have always trusted her advice. The concerns about chest pains are common among heart patients and I really think she needs to talk with someone you both trust who can advise her. The other piece of advice I'd offer is to do your best to refrain from heated arguments. This is not good for either of you and the stress is not good for her.
I wish you both the best going forward and I wish your wife good health.
AmbassadorMR, July 26, 2019 6:17pm EST
Bernie, Katie and James have all offered very good support and advice. As you can tell, there are no simple answers to your concerns and your feelings are very understandable considering the circumstances. All of us as heart patients are very wary of any "funny feelings" in our bodies once we have been through an incident. The advice to reach out again to your wife's cardiologist for guidance on when to puruse these expensive runs to the hospital is most reasonable. If the doctor is of no help to you then I suggest getting another opinion from a different cardiologist. It would definitely be worth the trouble.
A social worker from the hospital that treats your wife would also be a possible resource for helping you to address the concerns that both you and your wife have around her condition and her treatment. Your working hard to provide for your family and it's important that you try to resolve the sensitivities that your wife has developed about you being absent (at work) when she feels a symptom. The stress that finances and health issues can cause is very real and we all wish you strength and resolve as you work with your wife and some outside help to find the best compromise possible for work and care. We all want to support you in any way that we can.
Yours In Heart Health,
AmbassadorC, July 28, 2019 7:45am EST
Good morning and welcome to the support network. My fellow heart brothers have offered you some great encouragement that I completely agree with and echo their points. From a women’s perspective, and in line with what Ambassador MR stated, once we as heart patients experience an incident, anything out of the “ordinary” can put us in full panic mode, causing stress counter to being a heart patient. I think what’s important is that there is some type of a guide prescribed by a cardio as to what signs or symptoms would warrant a trip to ER. I know it may be easier said then done, but it may make her feel like she has a safety net to fall back on when she’s by herself. Another option that I’m not sure if it’s viable or not, might you have the ability to subscribe to a medical alert service ? Similar to on star? It might just be that she needs someone to address her concern once something triggers and having someone on the other side may help. Lastly, re you’re loved ones feelings, while it may be difficult to break through, you may need to have a 1:1 conversation as to what is her biggest fear in you’re abscence. Sometimes articulating and facing our fears head on are the only way to overcome them. She may be feeling so frustrated that she isn’t able to move forward without experiencing some type of one step forward, two steps back and may just be scared deep down and thus projecting on to you that you don’t care,when I reality you do and are doing everything to continue her cardiac care. I’m hopeful this may provide some insight from a female heart patients perspective.
Hsng in there and keep on fighting with heart. ❤️ You’re doing great and we are here for you.
AmbassadorC, July 28, 2019 8:01am EST
Also, in reference to your financial concerns, I would like to invite you to review and possibly connect with the Patient Advocate Foundation. They are a wonderful organization that can assist with the maize of insurance related issues which can in and if themselves be complicated and stressful. Patient Advocate Foundation
BJKummer, August 7, 2019 11:35pm EST
Hi.. try getting a life alert necklace for your wife.. $69.00 monthly and its worth every penny to have ‘peace of mind’ while you’re at work. I work, too, and my husband has CHF (on perm DB). I feel your pain and it’s so difficult to be the working caregiver. Hope this suggestion helps. Take care.