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.