Last updated: December 2021
My path to congestive heart failure was not a gradual one. I had a massive SCAD induced heart attack that damaged my heart. In addition to that, I have many stents and complex vascular issues of my arteries. It is hard to NOT feel like I have a broken body.
Every time I want to eat a salty snack, chug my favorite beverage, find myself breathless, go an entire 24 hours without taking meds or not weigh myself (just to name a few), I curse this body that feels like a lemon vehicle I wish I could return with all of my heart. Yes, I am grateful. Yes, I have moments where I am in utter awe of what my heart went through that cold January two years ago. However, no amount of gratefulness takes away the fact that heart failure is hard. Very hard.
Ways to still celebrate your body
So how do I think we fall back in love with our bodies that are sources of such dichotomy? So many feelings of both gratefulness and awe and at the same time frustration and anger? In my case, body/self care has been very helpful. I do not have the money for fancy spas, regular facials, etc.; however, there are cheap ways to nurture and celebrate your body as it is today, and celebrate what it looks like, feels like, even though one of our key internal organs has decided to malfunction.
Here are some ways:
Facial scrub and face mask
You can make your own facial scrub and face mask at home! Anyone who has done a facial scrub and/or face mask knows how soft your face feels when you're done. I have created facial scrubs utilizing honey and sugar, but a quick Google search for DIY face scrubs had many ideas. As far as face masks, I have done face masks utilizing ingredients such as coconut oil (such a terrific moisturizer), honey and avocado. A similar Google search (DIY face masks) yielded many results.
DIY body scrubs
There are also many ideas for DIY body scrubs. This might be an option for any males who are not interested in facial care. It's amazing how your skin can feel once you are done.
Makeup is another way we can highlight our features and make us feel good about our bodies. Personally, I have become much more low maintenance post diagnosis; however, I do try when I am up for it. It is amazing that I can feel a connection between how I look and how I feel! If you need permission because it feels stupid to spend that money on mascara or a new shade of lipstick, I grant it! Get it! It is NOT stupid, and it is NOT frivolous.
If it makes you feel better, and reminds you that you do love the color of your eyes, the shape of your lips, the plumpness of your cheeks, etc., you owe it to yourself to make sure you are engaging in self care where you can. My boyfriend bought me a new thing of mascara on a whim; it makes my eyelashes look great, and honestly some days it really helps remind me that there is still a lot of the 'old me' left.
DIY hair options
There are also many DIY hair options to try, too! There are options for DIY dry shampoo (critical item), in addition to leave-in conditioners and hair pomade. There are products to help give your hair a natural beach wave, maybe straighten, etc. Bottom line is that 'doing' your hair, or putting in that little extra effort when you feel up to it may seem frivolous, but I would say that it is not. Just as your skin, try highlighting the features in your hair or trying different styles to find the one that makes you feel really good to be you.
A nice reminder
Sometimes we need a little reminder of the gloriousness of our bodies, even if our hearts are a bit wonky.
PS. As an aside, if you are interested in this and are looking up DIY, I'd look up do it yourself facial massage as well. Just as a body massage can be relaxing, if you are doing stuff to your face, consider a facial massage as well!
Have you experienced shortness of breath in the last week?