How to Ask for Help
It’s weird because heart failure didn't feel all that bad. My mind and body felt fuzzy, and I had a terrible cough, and I'd get dizzy a lot. It felt like a really horrible cold, except people wanted to do things for me.
Taken for granted
I’ve always been a stubborn and independent person and admitting I needed help was a super hard thing for me to do. My mother-in-law is a nurse and she would frequently point out that my levels were terrible and I was very sick and needed to lay down. I understood that, but I just didn't feel that bad. So, at first, I insisted that I could handle it, that I could somehow organize my life while trying to heal an organ I'd never even given a second thought to - just taken for granted that it was there functioning beautifully my entire life.
Her insistence woke me up
But one of my neighbors is a hospice worker. When she came over to visit me she insisted that she would rally the other neighbors together to bring me low sodium dinners every day for a month. It was a big ask - I didn't even know how to make a low sodium meal - and I felt horrible for giving in and letting everyone cater to me, but her urgency scared me so I agreed.
It was her insistence on the severity of my condition woke me up. I realized that asking for help did not make me lazy. Laying around in the same place all day didn't even make me lazy. This condition was real, and the thoughts I had at night about never waking up weren't dramatic… they were a real possibility, and I needed to take time and heal.
I needed round-the-clock supervision
As I mentioned in my previous article, I had to have round-the-clock supervision to make sure that if I went into cardiac arrest, someone was nearby to call an ambulance. It was easy to ask these people for help! Especially since they were there anyway and it was usually family members. So when my mother-in-law wanted to take care of my babies at night, I let her. When my mom brought me home-made low sodium bread so I could have sandwiches for lunch, I let her. I let people do my laundry and clean my house, all while I laid on the couch and focused on my new babies.
People want to help
One of the biggest lessons I learned through this condition is that people want to help. Even people you hardly know. If they know what you’re experiencing, chances are they’ll reach out and help. And if someone offers it, even if you feel like you CAN do it, let them help. It will ultimately mean a lot to both of you. Allowing people to help me do things like make dinner, or clean my house, not only gave me an opportunity to rest and to heal, it gave me the opportunity to soak in every single minute of being a new mother. Because of them, I got more snuggles than I would have. I am eternally grateful for the outpouring of service and love I experienced during that month following my PPCM diagnosis.
Do you use exercise to help manage your heart failure?