There is such a sense of relief when you’ve finally received the correct diagnosis. Especially if it has been a long time coming. Unfortunately, that sense of relief doesn’t last very long. Now you are faced with the devastating news that you actually have a life threatening disease. Wow. Just typing that makes me depressed. Let’s move on before I start to cry.
They say there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To put things in perspective, allow me to share what these stages meant for me:
1.) Denial: Insisting upon maintaining the same routine even though you feel like you’re going to collapse at any moment.
2.) Anger: Yelling at your husband because he used the hand towel for anything besides drying his hands.
3.) Bargaining: Promising your doctor that you’ll do all that is asked so long as she makes it go away.
4.) Depression: Waiting until you get in the shower to cry so that nobody else will hear you.
5.) Acceptance: Agreeing to use a motorized scooter at Disneyland.
The grieving process is just that, a process. However, regardless of where you are in the journey, there are definite steps you can take to help yourself along.
Let The Healing Begin
First and foremost, learn to accept that you have heart disease. This is difficult as your first impulse might be to deny it. We may understand the mechanics of it but wrapping our heads around it emotionally is much harder.
Second, tell yourself that it is ok to feel the pain. Yes, you need to do this. The pain associated with grieving can be both emotional and physical. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it. Denying the pain of grieving can lead to physical symptoms, and that’s the last thing you need right now.
Next, adjust to living with heart disease. When diagnosed with such a life altering condition, the lifestyle that you were used to has suddenly changed. You may find yourself grieving for the parts of your life that will never be the same. That’s ok. It takes time for the realization to sink in.
Finally, understand that, in many ways, you heart is ‘broken’. Allowing yourself to heal will enable you to be proactive in the care your heart receives. And isn’t that what its all about?
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