Papa’s got a broken heart

sad-674811_960_720I’ve taken a 2-week hiatus from writing a post for an unfortunate reason – my husband had a heart attack. I’ve spent the last two weeks going back and forth from the hospital while he had bypass surgery and recovered in the cardiac care unit. He’s home now, and I have the awesome responsibility of caring for him while he continues to recuperate.

This event has had many impacts, and one of them is that it’s disrupted my regular care of our granddaughter. Her parents took her to see Papa briefly in the hospital – she caught a glimpse of him through the door – and she’s been by our house to see him, too.

But how do you explain something like a heart attack to a 2-year-old? And why Papa can’t pick her up or hug her like he used to, at least for now?

I’ve had to be strong for my husband, our adult sons and their spouses (who were really freaked out) and now our granddaughter. My own reactions have been all over the map. I’ve been scared, numb, weepy, and one memorable day when the hospital staff was dragging its feet about discharging my husband although he’d been there longer than usual (10 days), I had to fight the urge to punch people who got in my way. I guess “angry” covers that reaction.

Now, Nanas are supposed to be emotionally stable and smell like snickerdoodles. That’s hard to do when you’re getting up in the middle of the night to administer pain medication and spending your days cooking heart-healthy meals, cleaning and doing the loads of laundry that seem to come with nursing someone who’s recovering from open-heart surgery.

We were very lucky. My husband’s surgery went well, and we have every hope that he’ll make a full recovery. With the appropriate lifestyle changes, he’ll be a healthier man.

However, I know life will never be the same for us.

I wish I’d known more about the symptoms of heart disease. We dismissed too many red flags as indigestion or anxiety. I wish I’d insisted my husband take the stress test that a few months ago a doctor recommended in an off-the-cuff way. The irony is, just before his attack struck, he was planning to set up that appointment.

Heart disease is scary, and a husband’s heart attack is every wife’s worst nightmare. But as we’ve found, the head-in-the-sand approach to dealing with heart disease doesn’t work. Don’t be as foolish as we were, no matter how frightened or uncomfortable the subject makes you. Here’s a simple chart of symptoms. If you suspect you or your loved one has any of them, please don’t delay getting it checked out.

Do it for those you love – your spouse, kids, and grandkids. They’re depending on you to take care of yourself.