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Male, 48, Anger and some confusion after Triple Bypass in June 27th of 2018, looking for people in my age group to talk with
Hi everyone, I'm new here. I'm reaching out for support. I'm 48 and had a triple-bypass on June 27th when I was 47. During my experience through the whole thing, before and immediately after, I was upbeat, a bit scared understandibly, and had friends to support me. I asked for help and for people to be there. To be candid and honest, this was largely because of being abstinent and in recovery from alcohol for 13 years, it has given me the tools to get through difficult situations, but this is something entirely new. But the first two months of recovery went well, partly because of nurse and physical therapy home visits and walks.
But, I started Cardiac recovery at the end of July, and I've had difficult commiting to three times a week. The staff is helpful and friendly, but it is difficult to relate to the patients there as I am the youngest by at least twenty years, in my estimate. I am not prejudiced against older people, I have compassion for people at any age. But I need someone to talk to around my age, because my depression and anger, well, mostly anger has spiked, and I stopped going to cardiac rehab. I don't want to work out there because it depresses me. I'm also eating like crap, which is new for me, and I have a wtf attitude. I want to change, but I'm so reistant.
I don't know, but I suspect something is physiologically different with me after they cut me open. There must have been some shift, it must have to do with the actual surgery, in addition to recovering from the procedure. It's my first every surgery and major health problem. So, I'm reaching out. I don't want to exclude anyone from offering support, and I can also offer support, but I am specifically looking for someone around my age to talk with in their mid to late 40's or younger.
Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing people's stories. One thing that has helped me in the past in my sobriety is hearing and sharing stories, the most powerful thing for me is relating to others with the same problem. Now that I have heart disease, I'm looking for someone to relate to. Screw it, any age is fine, I just want someone to talk with who understands what I'm going through.
Thanks for your time.
JamesPL, December 8, 2018 5:32pm EST
I am sorry about the difficulty you are having. I am older than you by about 15 years but I had quintuple bypass surgery at 56 and it was very traumatic as it is for anyone regardless of your age. And while I am older, there were many people in my cardiac rehab therapy that were younger than you are now. Read some of the posts on this site and you'll find many young people dealing with heart disease. You were certainly on the right track in the begining and you need to find a way to get back there. I strongly suggest you get back to cardiac rehab and work your way toward improving your health and continuing with your recovery. I also suggest you continue to exercise after rehab has ended. It will help you mentally and physically. Some of what you are experiencing is common in heart patients. I was warned of depression prior to my surgery but I refused to accept that it would happen to me. I became anxious to get past my healing so I could start rehab and get myself back to a regular exercise regimen. Remain positive and do the best you can to help yourself recover to the fullest. Don't concern yourself with the ages of other patients but rather with your own successful goals. JeffB posted a great article on remaining positive in the Heart Attack section. I highly recommend it.
Good luck in your recovery!
AmbassadorDN, December 9, 2018 2:45pm EST
Welcome! I'm 43 and have had three heart valve surgeries over the past 12 years to correct a heart defect, mitral regurgitation/prolapse. It was only after my most recent surgery that I dealt with crushing post-op depression. I felt great going in and coming out of surgery, but a few weeks later, I became severely depressed. It was like a light switch had just turned on and I had no desire to do anything. I forced myself to go to cardiac rehab. Like you, I didn't really like going since I was the youngest and I actually despised the comments from other patients of "Oh, you're sooo young!" and then having to explain that I was born with a valvular heart defect, blah, blah, blah. The other patients were nice to talk to, and it was like talking with my parents' friends since many were about my parents' age, but I felt out of place and as if I wasn't allowed to exercise to my full potential. I did connect with the nurses somwhat, but maybe because they babied me combined with feeling like the odd person out, I felt the way I did.
It's unfortunate that the medical community doesn't recognize post-op depression as much as they should. It seems that being put on the heart-lung machine and basically being "turned off" does something to our brain chemicals. I don't know why. I've tried talking to my cardiologist about it and he can't explain it. We do have a good rapport, but even when he recognized that I was depressed, he still acted like it was something I should just "get over" and "deal with." If I could have, I would have. I HATED being depressed! Then my dad died suddenly six months after my surgery and that threw me for a loop.
Have you considered a couple things? One, maybe seek out a mental health professional, one who treats patients with health problems? Or go to a neurologist, even? I see a neurologist every six months or so after I had a mini-stroke following my second surgery, and after this most recent surgery, she could tell I was depressed as soon as she came into the exam room. She prescribed me a low-dose antidepressant which helped a lot, combined with seeing a therapist to talk about my issues. I asked my neuro about post-op depression as well, and all she could say was that the process of heart surgery can mess up our brain chemicals because our brains are shut off, like when you turn off your computer. The antidepressant was a tool basically to "re-set" my brain. I started the antidepressant in February and weaned off of it in September when my neuro evaluated me and I expressed that I was feeling like myself again. Another is to go to the gym. Talk to your doctor about it. If you don't like cardiac rehab, see if you can just go to a local gym to work out. That can help you with your state of mind and help relieve some of the anger you're feeling.
I sincerely hope this helps. While my issue was sadness and not anger, I can sort of understand what you're going through. Heart disease sucks. But you'll get through it. We are here for you, and feel free to vent, ask questions, scream, yell, get it out.
To Heart and Soul Health,
AmbassadorB, December 10, 2018 8:19pm EST
I can relate to your anger and attitude about working out with a bunch that are not in the same ball park - age, background, interests, etc. Having folks with you that are friendly, encouraging and supportive, while you're working out is a key factor - certainly is for me. Check out your alternatives and ask friends for their suggestions. A different gymn, or work out time - with folks that you would like to be with, are moves to consider, The most important thing is - Don't quit the rehab program! It's critical to your good health and quality of life!
Brooklyntom, December 28, 2018 1:40am EST
Hey Andrew... I'm an old goat but we do have a few things in common...i had a cardiac arrest and almost "bought the farm", and im a recovering addict /alkie also. As you say this is a whole new thing . My hospital experience was a real freak show..feeding tubes in my neck, lessons each day on how to swallow, dyalizis everyday...like you i had been .healthy prior to all this...i had not even heard of most of It. While it is new, and im very lost ' im clinging to the one constant...my higher power. I figure if he saved me once he'll do it again. In fact he did. Im in the o ne percent of people who live when they are resusitated outside the hospital im told. Not to be dramatic, but i was dead, no breathing no pulse,when .they found me. As for not having people your age i get that but not skipping your rehab because of it. Reminds me of when i stopped going to meetings becausr i didnt like the people. I had to be reminded by my sponser that i wasnt there to socialize but to do the work .necessary to get well. So get yer ass down to the gym before i tell your sponsor..lol...God bless my friend...Tom
DolphinWrite, January 8, 2019 8:38pm EST
Well, I'm 54 but everyone I meet thinks I'm in my 30s. I had mine in the middle of a bike ride. You'really probably going to go through a range of emotions. I too never had anything before, and suddenly I wa's out of life''s loop, no longer the independent soul I had been. I would finish the rehab and get back on the diet as your heart needs all the help you can give it, and rehab is important for your heart to recover. My first cardiologist never made move, so I got a second one and am finally there, great full they can monitor my vitals while I push it some. Talk to people. Listen and hear their stories. Find activities you like and do them. That''s my thoughts. I go cycling, hikes, walks, target practice, and have now started a blog. I'm hopine to go back to teaching next year, but my heart needs to be strong enough for the stress and work. Here''s hoping for you.
sgtlhunter, January 11, 2019 11:17pm EST
I'm fairly close to your age and can certainly relate to the emotionally roller coaster you're on. I too had a triple bypass in July of 2018, at the age of 45. I never smoked or drank excessively and worked out a few times a week. One day I'm out going for a walk and felt strange chest pain. A few days later after seeing the doctor, he tells me I can't go home or I may die because of the 3 blocked arteries in my heart. 2 days later they were sawing my chest open.
I went to cardiac rehab, which I also thought/think is a joke for a younger active person. The staff kept telling me to slow down. I went from doing P90x and Insanity workouts being told to slow down while walking a 3.0 on a treadmill.
I am seeing a therapist and plan to continue to see him for a while. I am constantly worried about my arteries clogging upon again and dying at an early age. No the doctors do not prepare people for the emotional side of having a cardiac event. Hope this helps, feel free to reach out if need be.
BL1970, February 10, 2019 8:58am EST
I Think I trully know your pain. I am 61. I have survived three open heart surgeries for an aortic stenosis.
The aortic prosthetic valve I have now has been with me for 40 years!
Like you and so many other cardiac patients, we all "wake up" after sugery, and sooner than later the reality of what has been done to our bodies hits, and hits hard.
Yep, we get the support and well wishes from loving family and friends. I get that. However, heart surgery is a life-changing event. I went online and found out that research has found that children and adults who do not get emotional/psychiatric counselling suffer from PTSD, anxiety attacks, depression and some
consider suicide? Why?
Because our brains are trying desperately trying, to figure out what has happened. Surgery can be 110 per cent successful, but because our hearts have been temporarily stopped, being on a heart lung machine, etc., our emotions our struggling to figure it out. logic can tell us what has happened, but our emotions run rampant-do I trust my heart surgery, am I really alive, am I okay.
Andrew if you can get any helpful information from this, I will tell you that as our bodies our healing, I feel it is ESSENTIAL to receive emotional healing, through counselling, pshycholgists, any outside counselling.
Of course our families, friends are there for you. They are your male and female cheerleaders. But for YOU, the outside help is critical.
In 1968 I had my first open heart surgery. At that post-dinosaur age, the only thing my surgeon told me at 11 years old, in front of my parents was "he's got a 50/50 chance of survival."
How far we have come! I read that a three month old child was going receive a new heart!
40 years ago, doctors only dreamed of proedures like this.
For forty years I have suffered from the traumas mentioned above. Finally, after a major depression, which included dire suicidal thought, I was brought to a facility that treated severe emotional trauma. I was threre for three months of intense group therapy and I was finally able to trust my valve, my body, and get fully back into my life. And this is only four months ago.
The feelings you describe, to me are normal. Ofcourse your surgery was/is successful. But your mind is trying to figure out "what happened?" In '68, '72, and 76, I was on a heart lung machine for a total of 16 hours. My heart was put on hold at this time as well. I think in my mind, my body thought it had bought the farm. It did not, now try to convince the mind.
I am in AA recovery too.
Andrew, I wish the very best for you, and for you to get the emotional support.
We are not alone in these feelings.
I hope you will continue to share with us your incredible journey.
Ken Levine BL1970