Did that take your breath away?
It did mine. Quite literally.
After back to back ER visits in December with a shortness of breath so short I couldn’t string more than three words together without stopping to breath, I heard those life changing words; “You are in congestive heart failure.”
I’m 45 years old. When I’m in the zone I walk 3 miles a day at a 15 min mile pace. Or at least I did for over a third of 2021 and that’s not nothing. I’ve never had heart issues, except a short stint with high blood pressure but that had been under control for years and medication discontinued. I still have a NINE year old at home, for crying out loud. Heart Failure? That can’t be right. Can it?
Jump cut a few weeks and here I am, with more prescriptions than I can keep track of in my head, orders to drink less fluid and consume WAY less sodium, appointments for more tests and a hell of a lot of questions.
But here’s the good news…congestive heart failure (CHF) is an umbrella term for saying your heart isn’t working quite right. It’s not a death sentence. I am not a ticking time bomb. It is mostly reversible at this point in my health journey with medications and some lifestyle changes.
And google is NOT always helpful.
Which means I’m confused as well.
In the month I’ve been trying to accept and embrace this as part of my world, it’s become clear that what I have is not uncommon, but I can’t recall another woman near my age that has it or at least, who’s talked about it openly. So in my head, I was the only one, I had clearly failed at life-at least as it concerns my heart-and it felt like an ugly little secret.
Was it because I’m too overweight?
Did I drink too much alcohol?
Should I tell them how much I was drinking during the pandemic?
Am I too lazy?
Did I really just give up on myself and this is punishment?
This was the constant ticker tape in my head the first week in between panic and google searches for all the answers. I felt shame when I looked at my husband and saw his worry but projected judgement. I felt shaking in my boots fear when I looked at my kids and imagined their lives if I didn’t fix this. I had too much to drink one night trying to just run away from any feeling whatsoever. I pretended to be fine but I was really tearing myself apart from the inside out. Oh and it was the holidays with gifts to still be purchased and wrapped, adult kids coming home and all the moving parts a big family comes with. I was most definitely not fine.
So why am I telling you this?
It’s not about attention, in fact, please don’t.
That makes me a little uncomfortable.
It’s so when another woman hears those words;
Congestive Heart Failure,
Maybe she won’t feel as alone.
I’ll be sharing my journey here as an attempt to keep myself accountable to my pursuit of healing my body and as a practice in vulnerability. Maybe it will help another woman, but mostly it will help me put my thoughts, experiences and feelings into words out in the universe so they aren’t bottled up inside me.
Next up…the signs, the diagnosis and how I learned I really needed to advocate for myself in an ER, alone and on my own as an adult.
So sorry to hear this. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. 🙏❤️
Thank you so much Celeste! It’s going to be an interesting journey, that’s for sure.
LaTasha N Hammonds
Thank you for sharing your story it will help many! We all run to google for answers and I hope your blog pops up the next time a woman types those words in the search relating to CGF. ( XOXO Love Ya Mandy! )
Thank you my friend! Google terrified me this time. Hopefully I can help the next woman out!
We love you Mandy and as a nurse and friend, I am here for you. As busy as both of our lives can be, my phone is always on and door is always open if you want to vent (or do crafts lol). I walked alongside my grandmother through her journey of CHF and just know that you can thrive and still live your best life with this diagnosis.
I appreciate that more than you know, neighbor. Thank you for keeping your door open to me!
I’m so sorry to hear about this. Just know that you can.always chat with me. I’ll listen and just listen. No judgment here, ever. Our health struggles may differ, but we can commiserate together.
I so know that and thank you so much Stephanie. I will reach out soon!
I am familiar with congestive heart failure, it is common in my family. I am sorry that you are going through this! And, I am grateful that you are sharing.
I am struggling with some health issues myself but often don’t share because of fear and embarrassment. You are a brave soul and I truly admire you. Thank you for opening the door and making it feel safe to do so! My thoughts and prayers are with you!❤️🙏🏼❤️
Kelly! That is so kind of you to say, thank you. The more we share, the more we realize that we really aren’t alone and that shame just keeps us hidden. I’m so tired of feeling that way. I’ll take all the prayer you’ve got!