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.