LegionRider
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LegionRider, April 17,  2021  9:36pm EST

Heart attack trifecta to PTSD

Heart attacks to stents to open heart surgery with 2 bypasses. All in 8 months time. With only 2 months left to retirement. Going out on my hands and knees was not part of my dreams. The past six weeks now at home in what they call recovery. I call a living hell and a terrible quality of living. Take your multi colors of pills, have someone spoon feed you, run a shower on you, change your underwear for you, stumble for balance and shuffle from a chair to your bed. Scream in pain and agony from being split open every nite for weeks. It leaves me wondering was it worth it. Or better to have gone on to where other friends and family are. I have nobody that I know who has gone through this in my life. So I have come here to read and listen in hopes I can finally get some rest and some peace. This has been the biggest cross I have ever had to bear among the many. 

7 Replies
  • AHAModerator
    AHAModerator, April 18,  2021  11:42am EST

    Hello,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you have been through a lot in this past year and I hope that you will be able to connect with others on the support network who have been through similar experiences. Please know that you are not alone. I can share some Life After a Heart Attack resources to help you learn more during your recovery. Please keep us updated on how you're doing.

    Best,

    AHA Moderator

  • EricS
    EricS, April 19,  2021  11:07am EST

    Legionrider,

    Good morning!

    Hello I just wanted to reach out, I also suffer from ptsd from my service as a Search and Rescue Coordinator in USCG. I believe having a heart attack and having PTSD is beyond words to describe how much harder it is to recover from a heart attack. When your adrenaline is kicked of, heart pumping and not know what the heck is going on? Is it heart attack? Anxiety, Normal? It's so emotionally draining. For what its worth the things that have helped me was the metropolol succinate that slows your heart rate and makes it harder for me to be triggered into panic or anxiety. Next for me would be the Calm app and I started doing it out of desperation for help in times of panic/distress, I didn't think it would help but it atleast gets me through the moment of rapid thoughts thats so fricken hard! You just have to use during good and bad days and stick with it and buy into it. Having said all that I acknowledge your situation is unique and alot harder than my was. Mine was a year trying to figure out why I was having chest pain and V.A. being ....well the V.A. After I had my heart attack and had a stent put in for 99% clogged artery and a 50-60% clogged on another one. The hardest thing by far in recovery was the mental aspect of the what ifs. Am I supposed to be feeling that? Why's my heart beating fast or is it? What also helped with that was cardiac rehab. They could tell me, that's what your supposed to feel and have the numbers to back it up. Soon I was able to sync up with how I was supposed to feel while working out and slowly doing more and more, taking your time. Its hard and tedious for people like us to take it slow but it's worth it. I hope any of that may help you and if you want to chat I'll get back to you asap. Take care my friend and be easy on yourself, this stuff is hard but you'll get there 

    Eric

    Ps Don't let the pain of yesterday or the angst of tomorrow ruin your happiness today in wherever you can find it! Being on this side of the ground is a start

  • LegionRider
    LegionRider, April 19,  2021  9:03pm EST

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for your good words. USCG, Search and Rescue is a monster commitment. Thank you for your service. Mine was a USN Firefighter during Vietnam aboard an Amphibious Combat Troop Ship. During that time I never second guessed anything. Or felt terribly alone for anything. Your suggestions are really appreciated. I think that I will focus with my doctor on a temporary med to help my depression and anxiety. And I will look up that calm app. I have been listening to Native American Indian flute music during the night. Just to get my mind away from the pain and mental anguish. If only for just short periods. What's really been tough in this latest operation for open heart. Has been having to stop caring and maintaining my young long haired German Shepard bear. He can not come near me for fear of knocking me down and putting me in danger. My wife though has taken extended family leave to care for me and him. I'm going to feel better when I can say this was just a bad nightmare. Thank you for listening and your comments. I hope you are doing well and getting back your strength and endurance. This has been the worse road I've ever been on. But I think gaining support, helpful hints and positive direction will help. 

  • EricS
    EricS, April 19,  2021  9:30pm EST

    Your certainly welcome my brother and thank you as well for your years of sacrifice and your wife's as well! I'm glad you have support and that your wife's able to take some leave. Where at a place where my wife was able to stop working and help keep me going. It definitely was hard accepting help and watching her shovel snow while I stumbled around. We are both lucky there my friend. That's good your finding some music to help out at night, what ever it takes. 

    You know I never knew how hard it is to find a dam Hobbie, I mean what gives? They say get a Hobbie but I think my Hobbie is researching and looking for hobbies! That's a thing right? Oh where was I .......ah meds what's seamed best for my depression/anxiety was venfalaxine the slow release for depression and metropolol succinate helped with the anxiety. When your able cardiac rehab is cool even though I was the only 45 year old in that place but I smoked those old guys hahaha alright man anything you take good care of yourself, stay positive and laugh dam it lol don't be afraid to bug me anytime

    Eric

  • EMON1
    EMON1, April 21,  2021  3:06am EST

    Legion - As Eric already mentioned, the emotional side of HA's is often the hardest most understated adjustment. The ups and downs are VERY common and hard for others to understand, (it's often highly frustrating), but it's extremely common. After surviving a HA you really are forced enter a new world of awareness regarding our mortality, the average person generally ignores actually facing the fact we ALL die.

    All the many changes, not least the pills,diet, anxiety,etc. can be quite overwealming. With time and PATIENCE WITH YOURSELF, everyone eventually finds their own way of 'dealing', things WILL GET BETTER, but there's no timetable and sometimes we might need some outside help.

    [You probably already know, but friends and family may mean well but often can't understand just how you feel if they've never been there, that's normal too, that's why these sites exist.] YOU REALLY ARE NOT ALONE! Many of the 'strongest' people suddenly don't understand being so vulnerable.

    P.S. - Read through many past posts, they may seem 'familiar', some very moving. Also, a sudden moment of anger or finding yourself crying out of the blue is not unheard of.

  • KarlR
    KarlR, April 21,  2021  9:54pm EST

    Eric,

    One of my hobbies is photography, which has been great during a post-HA/Covid world.  When I go out for a walk, I take a camera.  It's motivation to take a walk.  When I improved to taking bike rides, I took my camera.  It expanded the range of things that I could see/photograph.  Even when I'm stuck at home, a simple trip to the yard can give me something to photograph (birds, flowers, mushrooms, squirrels, etc).  It's been the perfect hobby for my current circumstances.

     

    LegionRider,

    I agree with Emon.  Even family won't necessarily understand.  Three members of my family (including me) have experienced heart attacks.  Of the three, I'm the only person to survive their first heart attack.  I can't really talk to the other two about it.  This is an experience that many heart attack survivors share.

    During my 12 weeks of cardiac rehab, I shared the rehab facilities with five other patients.  Of the six of us, I was the youngest ... and the only heart attack survivor.  All of the others were there because they had a stent.

    Even among heart attack survivors, we have very different circumstances.  You had your heart attack on the verge of retirement.  My retirement (if I live that long) is still two decades away.  On the other side of the coin, your heart attack was much worse than mine, so I can't really understand the trauma you're currently going through.  We've had some overlapping experiences, but they're not identical.

    Within my family, two people died from heart attacks.  But two other people had heart disease and stents without having heart attacks.  They haven't experienced what I have.  But they've experienced part of what I have.  It might help to seek out those similarities with others.  (Granted, in our Covid-19 circumstances, I haven't been meeting with those families face to face.)

    It's tough.  But it gets easier over time.

  • EricS
    EricS, April 21,  2021  10:03pm EST

    Karl,

    Hey thanks for the suggestion! I'm a hunter her in idaho and I bet that would be a great way to get that fix and capturing a awsome wildlife shot. I'm going to do that and when I get my shot of a lifetime I'll post it and name the elk Karl if you don't mind? Thanks

    Eric

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