Aug 8
gailbarresi , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Sorry so long

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Sorry for it being so long.                                                                  Well another bad night. Up most of the night. Thinking about the year that has just past. Exactly one year ago I was in the Henry Ford hospital recovery from open heart surgery. Triple bypass and value replacement And if that wasn’t enough 8 days later for a pacemaker . And what a trip that was and still is. Lots of changes from day to day. Trying to eat healthy which is always a challenge because I’m so picky about my food. No salt. How do you eat raw vegetables with now salt? No sugar? What? No sugar or cream in my coffee. Then why drink it? No cookies, pies donuts potatoes chip. Now tell me how do you eat a sandwich without Better Made Chips. No process food. Which means no beacon, lunch meat, yellow cheese, very little Steak and definitely no  hamburger. And this is the big one NO CHOCOLATE, WHAT? I can’t live with out my chocolate. They tell me to eat more fish, I don’t even like fish unless it’s a McDs fish fillet. So anyways trying to teach these old taste buds to like healthy foods. Now let’s talk about see the doctors this past year. I have seen more doctor this past year that I have my entire 67 years. I can’t even tell you how many times I had my blood drawn. There was one day they took 18 tubes of my blood out. I was ready to pass out. And the people who took the blood didn’t even offer me juice and cookies. At least when you give your blood to Red Cross they give juice and cookies. And what about all these new medication?  I take one the keep the heart to slow it down, one to speed it up, one to make my blood thinner, I take one low blood pressure and one high blood pressure, I take some to help me pee more, ok Yep there’s been lots of changes to this pass year but all the doctors tell me that everything is good. Hell I didn’t know things were bad. (LOL) They say I look great. Really what was wrong with my looks before? I thought I looked great before the surgery. Anyways I am healing and getting strong every day. But I gotta say it’s been one hell of a year. I definitely don’t want to go thought another one like it. And one last thing I want to thank Joe Barresi,  my husband and my sister in law Carol Rushing-Budzyn for taking care of me. They were both by my side all the way.. I could of not heal as I did with out them. I love you Both so much.Thanks to all the family and some of my friends for all the love and care you have given me.

  • AHAASAKatie

    Thank you so much for sharing this!  The Recovery  Road is a challenge, mentally and physically, and you are doing absolutely great! Please know that we are here for you, today and every day!  Best Katie

  • JeffB


    As Katie stated, you are doing great given the immense set of changes and challenges you’ve had to undergo in such a short period of time.

    I had a heart attack four years ago and I was faced with a lot of confusing information as well. I also over reacted. My Dr never told me not to eat anything. Just to do so in moderation while making informed choices. I went full blown vegetarian and started to reduce my fats overly much. Since then I went back to eating poultry, fish and, yes, very occasionally some lean red meats. I also still enjoy some cheese and fried foods. But it’s all in moderation. Like my dad said, it’s the bad stuff you eat every day that will kill you, not the occasional treat you allow yourself. I love food. All types of food.

    While I don’t know your situation and I am in no way a medical professional, I would encourage you to take things slow. Make methodical changes over time. Don’t freak out like I did. Talk with your Dr’s. Keep a food journal and share that with him or her and ask some hard questions like “I love cookies, take a look at what I ate over the past two weeks and tell me what I can do better and when it’s OK to have a reward please?”

    I bet the Dr is going to say that your quality of life matters just as much as your treatment plan does.

    As far as needles go, I can’t help you there, I have tattoos everywhere, so needles never bothered me much.

    Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy every moment you can with your wonderful family.


  • JamesPL

    Hi Gail,

    Your reaction is typical and you will slowly modify your thinking although continuing to watch what you eat is something I'd highly advise. I had a quintuple bypass operation and reacted very similarly to how you've reacted. I was afraid to put anything in my mouth. Like Jeff, my cardiologist told me that I could have some of the foods you've mentioned but just to not make it a habit. At first I was careful to eliminate almost anything I deemed unhealthy. I have kind of morphed that into not eating anything that are obviously unhealthy such as most processed foods. I don't eat things like potato chips, french fries, bacon, high fat foods...etc. You do adjust to these things. I have eaten far more salads but I always have to add grilled chicken or fish. I allow myself grass fed organic red meat occasionally. I will eat some sweets but rarely. By the way, dark chocolate is supposed to be good for the heart. Ask your doc. 

    Another suggestion I'd make is to start an exercise program if you haven't already. I was always a runner but after my surgery, I did cardiac rehab and once I was fully recovered, I started exercising more vigorously than I previously had. I think it was my way of reacting to what had happened to me. One result has been that my cardiologist secretly told me that I could probably add more salt to my diet. I was surprised when she told me that but she also told me that I was the only patient she had ever said that to. 

    Bottom line is that yes, changes are necessary but you will adjust and if you take good care of yourself, you can return to some of those things you used to enjoy...just don't make it a habit.

    I wish you all the best!


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