Hard Conversations

Having heart failure comes with its own unique set of limitations. While we all experience heart failure and its symptoms a bit differently, there are times where we just can’t make plans and do the things we want to do.

FOMO is real

I am a person who is always on the go, even when I shouldn’t be. I have a hard time saying no and sometimes I suffer because of it. The whole “FOMO” (fear of missing out) is real. I don’t want people to think that I am just avoiding because that can lead to a whole other set of issues.

I have found that if I am open and honest about my heart failure with my friends and family, they have a better understanding of where I'm coming from. Here are some tips that I have found useful when having those difficult conversations.

Be prepared

This might not always be possible, but being prepared makes having those difficult conversations easier. Make notes and/or bullet points so you can stay on track and not forget important parts of what you are trying to convey.

I do this in preparation for all of my cardiologist's and other doctor's appointments. It isn't uncommon to forget things that I wanted to really talk about. The same goes for having difficult conversations with loved ones, friends, etc.

Don’t sugarcoat it

When explaining your heart failure to others, I am a firm believer in telling the truth. Not everyone will agree with this and that is totally okay! Be honest about how you feel and what your limitations, as well as expectations, are.

This is something that I personally tend to struggle with. I don't want people to feel sorry for me but at the same time there are times that I need help and if I keep people in the dark it will only hurt me (and them) in the long run.

Reactions

People will react in different ways when you discuss personal health limitations and expectations. They might be surprised or shocked, especially if your heart failure or other chronic illness doesn’t always have outward symptoms or signs.

With many chronic illnesses, we can look completely normal on the outside but be majorly struggling on the inside. So naturally, it may come as a shock to people who are fortunate enough to not struggle with heart failure or other chronic health issues.

Give yourself some grace

Hard conversations are HARD. You aren’t expected to be perfect and try not to have that expectation for yourself. Just being open and honest about your heart failure is brave enough. If you need to have follow-up conversations with people that is totally okay.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, or anticipate needing it. You might be surprised at how much people will want to help you out with whatever you need. Whether it be with household chores from time to time to maybe picking up groceries for you when you just can’t get out.

A world of difference

I’ve had a lot of hard conversations over the years when it comes to both my heart failure as well as other chronic health conditions. In some aspects, it does get easier, but not always. I found that talking with other people who share the same diagnoses as me makes a world of difference because I can ask for advice and hear their experiences as well.

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