Matters of the Heart

This is a tough time of year for me. It has been made much tougher this year because my husband had a heart attack the day before Thanksgiving. We were supposed to be flying out to visit my sister in Oklahoma, our first vacation this year, but ended up spending Thanksgiving in the heart wing of the local hospital.

The doctors called his heart attack “mild,” said it was “ideal” in that he went to the emergency room as soon as he had symptoms. He has one artery blocked 100% and another blocked 75%, but has developed collateral arteries to help deliver blood flow where it needs to go. His heart damage is somewhat limited and the heart function for pumping blood out of the heart to the rest of the body is not too far below normal (55 being ideal; Joe is between 45-50). They are not taking any invasive steps (i.e. putting in a stent or performing bypass surgery) at this time, but are treating with meds and lifestyle changes. The concensus of the cardiology team was that putting in a stent would disturb the blockage and release debris that could cause further damage to his heart, a stroke or another more damaging heart attack. Should he have further symptoms in the next three months, they will take more drastic action.

In the meantime, we are making drastic lifestyle changes, ridding our house of any “bad” foods and drinks Joe is not supposed to have and replenishing our cupboards with heart healthy foods. We have been heading in that direction, anyway; this just landed us there immediately and in no uncertain terms. Right now, Joe is only supposed to walk no more than 10 minutes twice a day and not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds. He will start cardiac rehab in January and will be on the Ornish vegan diet for 9 weeks during that time. I’m not gonna lie – as meat and fish lovers, this is going to be a stretch for us.

This has been really hard on Joe. As a guy who hasn’t even taken an aspirin for as long as I can remember, the possibility of having to take a number of meds every day for the rest of his life is frustrating. Being limited in what he can do is also frustrating. Joe has never been one to sit still and he keeps trying to do things he shouldn’t be doing. Not having family close by and no support system locally is also really hard.

This whole thing has really rattled me to my core. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how tenuous our grip on life can be. People we love with all of our hearts die. Jason’s death proved that to me. I can’t imagine my life without Joe. He’s my world. He’s all I have. I don’t know what I’d do without him. The odds of having another heart attack after the first one go up exponentially. That’s a scary fact.

I love my husband more than I could ever put into words. He’s such a special man – funny, kind, thoughtful, unique. I call him my Energizer Bunny – he never seems to run out of energy. He’s running on empty right now, though.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for Joe. I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.


© 2019 Rebecca R. Carney