Tuesday, May 2, 2006

No use crying over spilled milk

When I think of what Cliff has gone through, these past two weeks, I realize that it could have been prevented.

He had borderline-high blood pressure in his thirties.  By the time he was fifty, he was on blood pressure meds.  Our doctor told him when he put him on these prescription drugs to cut the salt out of his diet.  Cliff came home and told me this, but I more or less shrugged it off.  So did he.  Oh, we consumed less salt than many people do; we never use the salt-shaker at the table, for instance.  But I didn't do the research to learn just how much salt there is in everyday, ordinary foods; ignorance is bliss.

It was the same with cholesterol.  Surely it'll all work out, I thought.  We don't eat that many eggs. 

I have been known to accuse my dear husband of sticking his head in the sand when trouble comes, but it looks like I did a pretty good job of that myself.  Could I have prevented this bypass surgery from which he's recovering?  And the permanent damage to his heart caused by insufficient blood supply?

There's another thing:  Four or five years ago, Cliff had several spells of severe chest pains.  He went to emergency rooms three times, fairly certain he was dying.  He was given an exercise stress test, and it showed no problems.  I have no doubt catheterization would have shown heart problems at that time.

Anyway, I decided Cliff must be having anxiety attacks, since nobody was finding anything wrong.  The spells subsided, and he agreed that my diagnosis must be correct.

A few months ago we started going for half-hour walks in our pasture.  Every day, coming up one extreme hill, Cliff had to stop and get his breath.  He mentioned that he had pain in his chest... "right here", he'd say, placing his hand in the center of his chest. 

"Is it heartburn?"  I asked him.

"I don't know; it feels like my heart."

Tums seemed to help.  At first.  Then they didn't.

Do you see why I feel very guilty?  I had all these warning signs and made light of them.  I'm also a little angry that the doctors four years ago didn't delve deeper and discover Cliff's problem.

I suppose, if my friend Joanna hadn't come to visit, I'd have kept walking Cliff up that hill until he had a full-blown heart attack.  Joanna described what had happened to her brother-in-law when he was having similar heartburn episodes, and that's what got us to the doctor.

So all the learning and studying I'm doing concerning sodium and cholesterol is like locking the barn door after the horse got out.

I'm not one to berate myself for past mistakes, because no good comes from that; this entry is meant to help someone else.  Perhaps some of you can learn from my mistakes.


sunnyside46 said...

thank you for your courageous and frank sharing. Maybe it will save someone's life. May God bless you and Cliff.

artloner said...

Well I'm GLAD you aren't berating yourself...because I was getting ready to light into you like nobody's business!!!  I understand completely what you are saying.  As a nation, we are fat and lazy for the most part...and we are starting to reap what we've sown. I am just so glad that you got Our Boy Cliff back home with you now!!!

One more thought, NOW we're gonna be watching YOU like a hawk, because women go to the ER 2x less than men with chest/face/or jaw pain, b/c they think only men have heart attacks.

I love you, D!



ps: off to take that miserable Hibiclens bath...ewwwwwww!  Talk in a few days, I hope.

marainey1 said...

My DDH had severe heartburn , gas, etc symtoms the morning he died.  He sent me after some Pepto Bismal for his tummy and I got home to fine him on the floor, called 911 and he never recovered.  It all happened so quickly, I don't know if it would have helped if we'd gone straight to the  hospital or not??? Some questions we will never know the answer to.  Sudden heart attacks may not be so sudden.  He had just been for his annual physical the week before and was fine !  What I do know is that today is what matters.  We can't look back, but make today the best it can be!  'On Ya'- ma

mutualaide said...

Mosie, thank you for sharing your very personal feelings on this.  It's time for an appointment for my other half, who, like many, has chest pains chalked up to stress or heartburn.  Time to 'make' that doctor do more.  I'm sure Cliff will continue to improve and you will continue to take on the challenge of dietary and exercise knowledge.  Don't be too hard on yourself -- we all put our heads in the sand about many things.   Continued prayers for Cliff's recovery phase.

jevanslink said...

I wondered where you've been.  Since I'm all about ME ME ME, it takes awhile to figure out when someone I expect and enjoy hearing from isn't around.  Sorry to hear about Cliff, but you sure seem to have a handle on everything.  I hope he's continuing to mend well.  If anybody can rewirte the cookbook on tasty food without salt or cholesterol, I'm sure it will be you.   Mrs. L  

myheartsaysso2 said...

You can't beat yourself up over this... you really can't.. you can be a person without high cholesterol and a non smoker as was my grandfather and look he ended up having to have quintuple (I never knew there was anything more than quadruple) bypass surgery.. Sometimes it can be in the cards you are dealt..for example the surgeon who did the surgery on my grandfather told me one day even HE would be facing the same surgery and be on that table himself.. because he told me sometimes its just in your genes.. his mother and father both had to have it.. Same thing with cholesterol.. its not easy to get that to stay down.. or to watch sodium in one's diet.. not impossible.. but really a chore.. I know because after the surgery my grandfather had to go on the cardiac 2000mg of sodium per day diet and what a pain in the butt to have to write down every single item he would eat.. or rather does eat.. Who would think that even yogurt has sodium?Anyway..dont feel like you are to blame..there are alot of factors that play in on all this.. as for the stress test.. when you do that.. they also take pictures in 3d of your heart.. if they didn't see the trouble then.. I don't know if he had any yet?Or perhaps it was a gradual narrowing of the arteries which can also happen and is just harder to spot.. Ok, enough of the babbling here.. sorry to take up so much comment space;)Mybest to you and yours!  Mel

redpoppy007 said...

your post makes me stop and think, my husband and I both are on blood pressure meds.

ora4uk said...

Yes it is good that you shared your "past mistakes"...which were not really "mistakes" at all....just everyday life making thoughts....you have nothing to be guilty of....and neither has Cliff...it is no ones fault...oh I am sure we can just keep going down the line to find someone to put this on...I know I didn't have anything to do with Mixon's bypass problems...he didn't even have an episode of anything except shortness of breathe...and we all get that with age...but the test showed otherwise...we are not going to dwell on "what ifs"...the Lord has brought Cliff this far..and you too Donna...and from here we move on with our lives....one day at a time....I am happy the weather is nice...being housebound when sick is bad enough...but being able to get out and away is another gift from the Lord...God Bless you both....Hugs from KY...Ora and Mixon

shelt28 said...

don't beat yourself up to bad. Hide sight is always 20/20.


deslily said...

even doing "all the right things" doesn't necessarily help.  I know someone who, in his family heart problems existed, and so he did all the right things to prevent it happening to him (and from an early age)  did alot of excerciseing, eating "good foods".. stayed away from alot of cholestorol and salt .. he did it all.. still wound up having the same surgery Cliff did at the age of 50.

And doctors aren't what they used to be.. if someone had the pain Cliff did on more then one ocassion, that doctor should have had him tested more!  

Hindsight is wonderful.. but when doctors back you up that "nothing is seriously wrong" you have to accept the opinions of a trained person..  what's scarey is that more then one trained person told Cliff the same thing .

As for eggs and dairy products..(cholestrol).. even those I've been told by doctors (and i have high cholestrol) can be had in moderation (like 2 eggs a week and use 2%milk)  but of course i try to do less.. like an egg sandwich maybe once in a blue moon lol.. just to remember how good it is.  

Most is in the individuals inner makeup.. and you or Cliff cannot know what that is..  the exact same "symptoms" Cliff had may well have turned out a different diagnosis on someone else..  Our biggest help in health conditions are doctors.. and hopes that they care enough to take it far enough to be right about the diagnosis..

I'm just glad, as you are that this outcome is a good one..  its too bad the government doesn't help all it's people to more and better health means so preventive medical things could be practiced by more than just the very wealthy.

chat2missie said...

You can't blame yourself.  Genetics played a big role also!

csandhollow said...

Remember to look after you too. Women have different symptoms than men do.
Pat had the test done a few years ago and it showed fine, BUT every living member of his family has had by pass surgery.

madcobug said...

Don't blame yourself. Men very seldom follow the correct way to eat even when they are told. I know that Ken doesn't. He thinks he has to have a meat at every meal because that was the way he was raised. He always re salts his food and drinks whole milk. I don't eat as I should either but I don't eat that much meat and I drink skim milk. Helen

mastersblynn said...

We never know what tomorrow holds for us.  I am glad to see that you and Cliff take it day by day and minute by minute.  The love you have for each other is a rare thing these days.  You are an awesome wife and I am sure if we knew what tomorrow had in store for us we would all do things a little different.  But since we can't go back and change the past, and we don't know if we will be here tomorrow, lets just enjoy our present which is today!  Have a great one! Barbara

ukeliah said...

Donna, you can't tell me that you're going to blame yourself for this!
Sure, as his wife, you can look out for him, but short of nagging him half to death there's nothing beyond that you could do. Come on, tell me with a straight face that you could have gotten Cliff to give up ketchup without a fight. Just try it.
Listen, I think you are a wise woman to recognize the points in time that could have been helpful in avoiding this scenario, but I think you're really really being too hard on yourself. And I get mad at people that are hard on my friends.

gaboatman said...

It's great to hear that Cliff is out of the hospital and doing well.  Good news, indeed.  Yes, let's hope this post helps at least one person out there who's been blind to the clues or ignoring the warning signs.  Thanks for writing it.  I enjoyed the pictures in the previous post. Oh, and I had no idea there was that much sodium in catsup!  Wow!

gaboatman said...

I couldn't believe I just spelled ketchup "catsup" in the above comment, LOL!  That was how I used to spell it as a kid.  I do know it's ketchup!

lanurseprn said...

Thank you for sharing all of this.  Maybe someone who reads it will become more aware of his/her own symptoms.  Cliff is lucky to have you.  Thank God for Joanna making you aware of what the symptoms could be.  Bless her!  My prayers are with you both and I'm so happy Cliff is doing so well.  

siennastarr said...

Mosie.... hindsight is 20/20.  We all do that, after the fact.  The important thing is that Cliff is on the road to recovery now, and thank God for your friend Joanne.  God surely does work in mysterious ways!

We could all use a wake up call when it comes to our eating habits.  I know I could.  I am a salt freak! I salt everything!  I do have mild high blood pressure, and I probably am a heart attack waiting to happen.  Perhaps I should stop and take heed!


am4039 said...

Don't you feel guilty at all. It's not your fault. I do think the doctors should have looked further 4 years ago. But, the good news is you will watch more with the foods and learn more and Cliff is now recovering. You are a wonderful wife for sure.

whitedove3622 said...

MO, we all as good wives or mothers tend to blame ourselves. I know when Bob had his anyeurism I looked back at all the signs that we ignored and said the same thing. Even though they say you cannot know or predict any of these things they just happen. Regardless of how many things you may have done differently he still might have  had to have the bypass surgery. The thing is he is mending and now you can help the healing process by doing things as noted to you about diet and exercise. Thats all we can do, is begin from today. Love you and love to Cliff.  Been there!                                                Dove