When my husband came home one day from playing tennis complaining of shortness of breath, I urged him to have his doctor check him out.
Even when his doctor said he didn’t think anything was wrong, I kept at my husband to dig deeper. I’m glad he did.
But when the cardiologist said he needed bypass surgery, the tears started flowing. How could my husband, always active and healthy, need such a serious operation?
Our first job was to go home and tell our three daughters. Although I had not even had time to digest the totally unexpected news myself, I had to not only reassure the girls everything was going to be okay, but I also had to be strong for my husband.
This is when my role as a caregiver began. As a mother, I was used to dealing with my children’s runny noses and upset stomachs, but I had no idea what lay ahead of me as primary caregiver to my new patient.
I had almost zero experience with heart disease. Although my father-in-law had a massive heart attack and died at 61, I didn’t learn a lot about heart disease at that time because I was fairly young.
But I soon became like a sponge absorbing everything the doctors and nurses told me about all the things to expect.
As a caregiver, I felt one of my biggest responsibilities was giving my husband reassurance all the things he was going through were normal.
However, I think the hardest time for me was bringing him home from the hospital. Now it was all in my hands because there were no doctors or nurses helping him or making decisions.
The first few days home were the toughest as he had very limited mobility – especially getting in and out of bed and going up and down the stairs. I also made sure he started a schedule of taking his medication as he was not prone to taking more than a painkiller before his surgery.
It was imperative he made this process a part of his routine going forward, like brushing his teeth. It didn’t take me more than a few days to have to begin telling my husband to slow down a bit.
He totally took on his recovery walking curriculum and completed his 30 walks in 32 days. Although I was proud of him, I was also a bit scared.
I knew my health was important, and the stress we were under was going to have some kind of impact on me.
I would go for long walks, which always helped work off some of the stress. I’ve always enjoyed a long, hot, bubble bath, but now it was like an essential to help me relax.
I also found time to take care of our new puppy, Jackson. I have to admit doting on him was a bit of a release for me. As we all know, if you want loyalty in your life, get a puppy. For me, taking Jackson on walks was also great, as I kibitzed with him and let my cares float away.
I was also well taken care of. Our family and friends made sure our freezer was full of dinners. My girlfriends’ support, visits, and long chats on the phone were a lifesaver for me.
But most of all, I knew everyone’s love, prayers, and best wishes were with us through it all.
– Lori, 46