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How do I get him to be involved in life?
My husband (59) had a heart attack 12/2/18. His LAD was 100% blocked and because we live in a rural area it took 6 hours to clear the obstruction. The recovery was long, 41 days in the hospital. He seemed to improve after his release but then had more damage to his left ventricle due to afib. He now also has an aneurysm in the ventricle. My question or issue is he doesn't seem to be that invested on living any kind of quality life. He continues to smoke but hides it from me. He needs work done on his knee and won't even talk about it I think because he doesn't believe he will live long. How do I get him out of his chair and more involved in a long term future?
JKViggiano, February 4, 2019 1:11pm EST
Hi steflou. Your question seems to be the most common question among caregivers. Disappointment and frustration mixed with fear and loss often creates an environment where all parties are stuck, unable to move forward. It is an awful place to be.
I have been my husband's caregiver for 11 years (massive stroke at age 51). We are extremely blessed that he never even considered not recovering. Full disclosure: the first few years he was so disconnected from reality that he didn't really know how bad off he was. It took years for him to understand his situation. The good thing was that we had been working so hard on recovery and had made such progress that when he did understand, he was motivated to keep improving. We regularly meet with survivors and caregivers and offer encouragement and perspective.
That all being said, I am an advocate for strength and goal setting. So here it goes:
There are moments in our lives where we have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves "Who am I really?" More importantly, "Who do I want to be?" Is quitting is better than trying? Is today going to be better than yesterday? Did I teach my kids to quit when things get hard? What are they going to see when they see me, now that things are hard? Is it all just about me or do I care how my actions affect others? Does Poor Me EVER end well?
How you and your husband answer these kinds of questions will help you chart your course foward. Recovery is a choice, a choice we have had to make every day. We decided together that life was still going to be good, and it is! It is different, but it is good. Hard, but worth the effort.
Our life changed dramatically in an instant, as has yours. I pray you will take this time together to decide what you new life is going to look like. We only live one day at a time so I encourage you to start with that perspective. Today we will accomplish _____________. Remember that you are in this together. Together, you can create a beautiful life worth living.
RIP12, February 5, 2019 3:44pm EST
Both my wife and I kind of know what your husband is going through. My wife has been battling brain cancer for 24 years and in the last 21 years I have been through 9 heart attacks coding 4 times, had 18 stent placements, 4 open heart surgeries, an LVAD and a heart transplant. I am now in need of a second transplant but I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer so now I need to do 25 rounds of radiation and wait at least 3 years before I can do another transplant evaluation. We never know what life will throw at us, if you can get him to take one step at a time in his life hopsfully then he will realize the is more to him than his medical issues. I am 60 years old but I'm not ready to give up yet and when I talk to heart paticents and their family and see that I haven't given up yet it gives many of them hope. When I am in the hospital my doctors even at times send in medical students and even interns starting their cardiac rotations to learn my story and learn how my wife and I deal with our lives.
I know this wasn't much help but just try to to get him see that there is a future just don't burn yourself out because he is going to need you for the long haul.
DolphinWrite, February 12, 2019 12:17am EST
That''s a difficult one for me. I had my heart attack 6 months ago at 54, having always exercised. I think the factors that led to my helplessness was a cardiologist that should have been wearing a robe and carrying a scythe, suggestions by my sister to go on disability (She''s great, but I need to be active.), and living alone and not getting out more as I was recovering. I'm in rehab, talk to othets, and continue to pursue interests as I had before. I don't know. But I think one thing to do is be compssionate but not feel sorry. Do the things that interest you, stay positive yourself, and allow him to join you in the good life. I think when people get stuck, they need to see people not stuck, enjoying life, but not feeling sorry. Compassion cares but remains positive. I hope the best. God bless.
MamieD, February 14, 2019 11:55am EST
I think it’s incredibly easy for heart patients to get into a mindset of doom and gloom or just not caring. They often get trapped in the inability to do things exactly how they used to. Maintaining a new normal is essential. Sure there will be plenty of doctor visits, medicine prescribed, good days and bad days, etc... but the more sense of balance he feels, the better off everyone will be. The more he understands the ability and potential to maintain, perhaps the more likely he’ll be to snap out of his current mood.
Hoping and praying for your family. 🙏🏼
steflou, February 14, 2019 7:03pm EST
Thank you for the replies, prayers and concern. I particularly like the idea of positive compassion. I have noticed that I have been shutting down in my own life, saying no to outings with the grandkids or going out with friends because I don't want to leave him behind. I think if I were to continue to do those things, he may be encouraged to get out more as well. He has also been very concerned about my well being and if he were to see that I am coping well he could save that energy for other things.
terrylou, February 15, 2019 7:40pm EST
Enjoy nature. My dad is 83 and has numerous issues, but when we go on a drive to see the mountains and the trees and the lakes, he comes alive and is more open to talk about next steps. People think we're crazy but we go out to breakfast 100 miles away just to get a fresh perspective.