mm1776
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mm1776, April 15,  2021  9:25am EST

Newly out of hospital for Heart attack - Suggestions

Hi All,  I am the eldest daughter of a heart attack survivor.  In fact he just came home 2 days ago, and since I was unable to be in the hospital and hear all the things the drs and nurses were kindly telling my parents, I am reaching out for suggestions.  I don't want my father to go into depression.  I am seeing signs in him where he kind of spaces out because he is grasping all that has just happened to him. 

- 4 stents

- blessing of no heart damage

- learned he had a birth defect in his artery

- a pacemaker put in 

Realizing he can't move much the rest of the week while he tries to heal.  I am looking for suggestions on how to perk him up and kind of keep him from thinking too much to where he becomes depressed?  I can tell when he is doing this as he glazes over.  I am not sure that reliving the whole thing in telling people what is going on is helping but it is a necessary evil.  

Does anyone have any suggestions for me of things we can encourage or things I can do to try and help. 

Thank you kindly anything suggestion is a benefit!!!

Monica

  • AHAModerator
    AHAModerator, April 15,  2021  5:17pm EST

    Hello there, 

    Thank you for joining the Support Network and sharing your father's story. We hope you find a sense of support and community here for both you and your father. As you wait for others to share their personal experiences we can share some resources on Mental Health and Well-being, Staying Motivated, and Stress Management. 

    Please keep us updated on how he is doing!

    Best, 

    AHA Moderator 

  • TommyJoe
    TommyJoe, April 15,  2021  7:12pm EST

    I read your post and it reminded me a little of my situation. I am not an expert in any way or a good writer but maybe my insight might give you some perspective on your father.

    I had a heart attack on Dec15 2021. I won't explain it all but basically. Went to the hospital with a heart attack, they stabilized me and I thought I might be ok then I had it happen again and all hell broke loose with the doctors and nurses. Obviously they saved me but at this point I knew I was going to die and was trying to make sense of it all. Next thing I know I am in an ambulance going to a hospital with a cardiac care unit, felt like I was barely there and I got all the tests and they put stents in. Rolled me back to a room  then I had doctors, pharmisists, nutritionists etc... explaining what happened and all the changes I needed to make to my lifestyle. Then a hurricane of phone calls/texts from concerned friends and family wondering what happened and offering to help me (which I feel very lucky to have btw). I honestly don't think I had time to properly process my situation until 2 weeks after it happened. I wasn't feeling very good. I was depressed about having to quit drinking, smoking, eating etc.. looking back I was overwhelmed by all the changes I had to make and started getting grumpy with people who were only being good friends. I was reliving the story 13 times a day without properly dealing with it myself 1st. Point is, it is a lot to process in a few days. I am grateful to have supportive people in my life but I wish they would have gave me a little more time with my thoughts. I think no one wanted me to be alone and didn't want me to become depressed but in some ways it had the opposite effect on me. It felt like a job telling the story over and over. It felt like a job having to be upbeat and positive so people close to me wouldn't worry. In hindsight I think i was trying to not worry everyone around me when i should have been focusing on healing myself. I am just saying your dad is lucky to have you and I am sure he knows that. Maybe cut him a little slack if he isn't quite himself. It takes some time for everything to set in and he may not even know it himself yet.

  • EricS
    EricS, April 19,  2021  11:22am EST

    I have to echo what Tommy Joe said. I had a heart attack same day as Tommy Joe kind of ironic but back to your post. It takes a bit to process the biggest thing is just to be let him know your available when and if he needs to talk. My kids are younger 9 and 17 and the biggest con ern was how to tell them and assure them I was okay. I just showed them my before and after xray of the clogged artery clogged and one when it was fixed so they could visualize what had happen and its seamed to work pretty easily. I know your worried about your dad and believe me he's more worried about you than he's is of himself. Be patient, listen, and help when you can and that's all that can be expected. He has alot of information coming in, it's like trying to juggle a hundred ***** at once. Once he gets in a groove it should help alot but it takes time and patience, there will be ups and downs, triumphs and perceived failures. I hope any of this helps, your a good daughter and he knows that! Take care my friend! I hope the best for you and your loved ones! Before I forget one thing that really helped with all the overwhelming life changes was the CALM app it really helped and still does!

    Eric

  • mm1776
    mm1776, April 19,  2021  7:40pm EST

    @EricS and @tommyjoe thank you so very much for your kind words! 

    I am trying to keep my distance because... well, I am an emotional girl and I know I would start crying all over in front of him.  He is my hero and I can't help but be terrified that this could happen again.  I am trying not to make him relive it, trying not to ask questions which means distance for me.  I just also want him to know that I want him to fight, for lack of a better term.  Knowing full well that my Mom, and siblings are all going through this just as much as I am.  Right now, I just can't help but feel like I have been hiding how this has impacted me.  And I don't know how to approach this with them all, to understand if they realize just how serious this was or is.  I don't even know if I grasp how serious this is or was. 

    He seems to be moving more as of this weekend but we did have a small scare at the end of last week. Which all seems really positive.  I am not his keeper and I know my Mom is there to help him. I have backed off at the end of last week into this week.  I just can't help but feel like there is more I need to be doing/learning if not for him but for myself.  And I know by your comments that he knows I am here if he needs anything.  I can't imagne what he is going through, but it is also clear to me I need to change my habits if this is all hereditary.  Which now I don't know what scares me more, him or me. 

    Ok so that was a whole lot of "I" statements.  I think, this will be the end of my emotional rant for today.  

  • EricS
    EricS, April 19,  2021  8:06pm EST

    MM,

    I really don't think there is a right or wrong way because everyone is so different in how they cope and process stuff. I'm not a counselor or anything but just let it come naturally when your talking. I don't think there is any shame in being emotional or anything wrong with it but you'll know better than anyone. Hopefully you can talk with your other family to help you and them both. If counseling is available I would definitely do it. As for the genetic thing, that's the boat I'm in so learn from this and mind your p's and q's, it's hard at the beginning but just think of the end goal and your worth it kiddo!

    Eric

  • KarlR
    KarlR, April 19,  2021  10:04pm EST

    Monica,

    Your father's view today is not necessarily the same as the view he'll have a year from now.  (And I say that with confidence, even though I'm only at the 10 month mark ... okay, okay ... 10 months from tomorrow.)  I started my cardiac rehab 8 days after my heart attack.  It took another week before I could get onto a bicycle, because I was too bruised up from my stent.

    Yesterday I did a 32 mile bike ride, felt fine, and my legs feel a little tired today.  I couldn't have done that the week before my heart attack.  (I was trying to build up to it, but 20-22 miles was kicking my [censored].)  I have exceeded every goal that I set for myself at the beginning of cardiac rehab.  Your father doesn't know his limits yet.  And they're probably farther than he's imagining.

    Similar to your father, I have very little permanent damage to my heart.  That is a blessing beyond belief.  There are members of this board who have suffered significant, permanent damage to their hearts.  I feel for them ... but I certainly haven't walked a mile in their shoes.  Your father is closer to my situation.  I have a few limits ... and far fewer than I expected a week after my heart attack.

    For right now, encourage him to put one foot in front of the other.  And I mean that literally, as well as figuratively.  I limped 4,500 steps the day after I was discharged from the hospital.  I walked 2 1/2 to 3 miles tonight, just to exercise a few of the muscles that don't get a workout from cycling.  I've gone hiking in the mountains (less than 6 months after my heart attack).  Walking is good exercise, and it's a terrific place to start.

    He's at a turning point, not an ending point.  Let him know that.

  • mm1776
    mm1776, April 20,  2021  5:23pm EST

    @EricS and @KarlR  thank you both for your kind words.  I realize this connection board is for those who have experienced a heart attack, but, I think I am learning more from you then I ever could in a book or website.  My dad has always been a private person and not really one to talk, well unless it is politics or work stuff.  This comment board has been very cathartic and encouraging to me. I am taking in everything said and holding it close to find the support and conversation I wasn't ready to ask him about.  

    Is there any kind of suggestions you have for cardiac rehab, good or bad?  I just kind of assume it is always assigned to a patient after they have experienced such a heart trama? I by no means am going to push him but was encouraged since he received some good feedback/updates on the pacemaker yesterday.  Suggestions on heart healthy recipe websites you find helpful?  I think I can use all the help I can get in that area even for myself.    

    Thank you again for the help, I am feeling more encouraged by hearing these stories.  I can't imagine what it is like for all of you!!  It is so easy for me to feel sorry for myself and how this has made me feel.  I want to become a lot more educated so I can help if and where needed.  

  • EricS
    EricS, April 20,  2021  6:04pm EST

    MM,

    Your very welcome for the help! As far as cardiac rehab it was very helpful for me so I was alot more comfortable pushing myself with trained staff there. If you feel something wierd your hooked up to monitors with trained people interpreting them. When I started walking on my own I was at a loss for how hard/pace to walk.....was I going to fast? To slow? Was my heart suppose to be beating like this? All questions that came to my mind and I had no answers if I was doing it right or wrong and all those questions are answered at cardiac rehab so he can be confident in what he's feeling and doing. 

    One piece of equipment that worked awsome was the Polar chest monitor, it works in real time on an app easy to use and read. I went through 5 different watches from the best/expensive to cheapest and for heart rate they ****** and all got sent back. I read that they aren't as accurate because they use light to read heart rate and the Polar chest strap reads using the electricity and I checked it with doctors and it was spot on!

    As for diet and nutrition, what worked for me was stop eating packaged food as much as possible, lots of vegetables that I cut up so they're ready to eat, no sodas and lots of water, should be about 84oz a day. I cut back on red meat before I was eating 3-5 meals a week with red meat now about 2 with smaller portions of it like maybe a half pound of hamburger instead of 1 pound. It sounds a bit hard but little steps add up! I've got my numbers perfect in every aspect with just those changes so it's definitely doable! Good luck my friend anytime for any question hit us up!

    Eric

  • KarlR
    KarlR, April 21,  2021  12:35am EST

    Monica,

    I was assigned to cardiac rehab by my cardiologist as soon as a spot was available.  However, your father can always ask his cardiologist to find out when he might be able to start.

    Like most forms of exercise, the amount he puts into it will affect the benefit he gets out of it.  Everyone on this board (including me) has reported having a very positive experience.  In addition to the cardiac rehab, I bought a FitBit to monitor my heart rate while exercising.  I compared it (in realtime) against the results I was getting from the cardiac rehab heart monitors.  Even though I ended up losing it a few months later, I now have a very good idea when I'm within my limits ... and when I might be creeping beyond them.

    The American Heart Association has a number of heart healthy recipes.  They're a good place to start.  Once I learned which ingredients I should/could use, and the proper proportions, I was able to just look at a recipe and figure out whether it was heart healthy or not.  I also know some decent substitutions for less healthy ingredients.  So now I'll look at recipes from anywhere.

  • EMON1
    EMON1, April 21,  2021  3:51am EST

    Let him set the pace. IT IS SCARY, IT IS NEW, IT IS FRUSTRATING, IT IS DEPRESSING. Everyone is different and heals in their own way and time. It's wonderful that you're there and care, but the best thing you can do is LISTEN TO HIM. You can not stop, nor should you try, HIS way of processing this life changing event, Be there for him, but know you won't understand what HE needs, listen, The biggest thing right now is make sure he takes his medications!

    Don't try and 'fix' him, just try and support him with patience, there are good days and bad, it's not easy. 

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