Monday, November 5, 2012

And It Starts...

Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  Conjested Heart Failure.  Cardiac Arrest.  What comes to your mind when you read those words?  For me, it was hard to swallow.  How can this be?  I am only 30.  I am a wife.  I am a mother.  I am your normal, every day stay at home mom, girl next door kind of person.  I raise my 3 young wonderful boys.  I have only been married almost 8 years.  I wrestle with my kids. And my husband.  I grocery shop.  I mow the grass.  I hang out with my family and friends.  I have a normal life.  Why me?  How did this happen?

In September, I was having some chest pains for a few days and after putting it off I was finally convinced to go to the emergency room.  I go.  I have all the testing done.  The EKG was normal, except I have an inverted 3rd t-wave.  I have no idea what that means, but the doctor said it was fine.  I had the fun stress test.  I don't recommend it unless you want to hold on to the handle super tight so that you don't fall off the speeding treadmill, but I guess it wouldn't have been a big deal if I fell, I was already in the hospital. The results of that test were fine.  I had an Echocardiogram.  Since the other 2 tests came back fine they sent me home saying they will call me with results on the Echo.  They didn't know what was causing my pain and said to take it easy.  The next day, I get a call from the Cardiologist saying that they needed me to come back to the hospital, there was something wrong with my Ejection Fraction.  Again, a term I knew nothing about.   When I get there they admit me and tell me I have Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  What the heck is that?  Take my advice and don't google it.  You'll be freaked out with all the stories and stuff.  We were looking for facts.  We went to reliable health websites to learn more about it.  I was told my Ejection Fraction (EF)  was only 15%.  It should be at 50-55%.  With the lower EF I am at greater risk of Cardiac Arrest and Conjestive Heart Failure. I have a whole list of symptoms that I have to watch out for and be aware of.  Since I am a stay at home mom, and anything can happen at anytime, we had to teach our 3 boys, who are only 4, 5, & 7, how to call 911 and teach them to tell the operater that their mommy has CHF (Conjested Heart Failure).  That's not fair.  They should be outside having fun being boys, not having to worry about calling an ambulance for their mom at any given time.   I have to wear a very fashionable bulky defibrillator.  It is called a Life Vest.   It monitors my heart rhythm and if it starts to go into arrhythmia (another term I have to learn) it will alarm to let me know.  I have a minute to turn it off or it will shock me.  So, if I am carrying in groceries, and I am one of those people who do not like having to go back and forth to the car to get groceries so I carry all the bags I can possibly put on my arm, if the alarm goes off all my groceries are gonna be crushed with me trying to get it turned off.  Getting shocked is not on my to do list.  Hopefully by the end of the year I won't have to wear it anymore.  There is talk about an ICD. That is another term for Implanted Defibrillator.  That won't be for a while, hopefully.

I am so grateful to have such a supportive and loving husband who is my rock through all of this.  He stayed with me at the hospital.  It was even his birthday while I was there.  He is there for me every step of the way and I definitely could not handle this by myself.  I thank God for him in my life.

So, how am I now?  Well, I am having to weigh myself every morning.  (This is also not on my to do list but I have to do it).  I have to take my blood pressure and pulse everyday.  I have 2 heart medicines that I now have to take everyday for the rest of my life.  I cannot retain water.  It will make my heart work harder, so to reduce it  I have to limit my fluid intake.  I have to limit my salt intake.  It was hard to find stuff I can eat with little/no sodium.  Just take a look at your day to day eating habits.  Add up all the sodium.  You will be amazed at how much you eat.  Physically, I feel fine.  I feel like I always have.  There are a few times where I find myself being really tired and short of breath.  I just have to take it easy at those times.  Emotionally, I have my good days and my bad days.  Mostly good days.  I have to take this one day at a time and live for each moment and not let this heart disease run my life.  There are some adjustments, but basically, I am still me!