PRETTY LADY CHRONICLES: Being a Patient Is a Process (Part 1)

Editor's note: Check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

It seems I'm always learning on this journey. So much so, that I’ve adopted many mantras and fight words along the way. “Overcoming”, “I didn’t fight to live not to live”, and “Being a patient is a process” are a few. Managing heart failure can definitely be a process that requires patience, understanding, and is full of inconsistencies.

Of course, no one said my journey would be easy; or that I would always be in control. However, living life in patience mode is something I couldn’t have prepared for. Being a patient is a process.

Life unexpected

I had been on a roll. Conquering online school due to covid-19 safety measures.  Online advocacy and support with my heart sisters. Working on losing my covid-19 15 (or 20) while building endurance to restart my daily walks. Life was good.

All of that was brought to a sudden halt. I found myself sitting in the ER with sharp pains, shortness of breath, and fluid retention. All of these symptoms mimic heart failure.

“Do you still have your gallbladder?” the emergency room triage nurse asked. This question surprised me. I answered, “Yes, but why do you ask?” Well, after a quick review of my medical records he noticed I had issues with gallstones a few years back.

Heart failure seems to take precedence when it comes to my health. I had completely forgotten about my past gallbladder complications. There were a few tests, bloodwork, and scans. The results showed that my gallbladder or gallbladder disease was the culprit.

Just like that everything had shifted, again!

The process

Of course, my case isn’t typical. My LVAD and the position of my driveline were reasons for a pause. It appeared this procedure would require additional testing before moving forward. The non-invasive, belly button approach appears to be a slim option for me.  I had to accept that I may actually be looking at another surgery in my near future.  I went from regaining some sense of normalcy, to preparing for a possible gallbladder extraction.

The next 24 hours were spent making plans for my son. I advocated for my early release to pre-plan and safeguard my home for post-opt; and meditated just to process what was happening. The sudden onset of a new health obstacle was yet another reminder of just how fragile life is; and just how fragile our routines are.

Over the past few months, I’ve watched as our world has been forced to navigate through its own new process due to covid-19. My family and I have become accustomed to unexpected shifts in our lives as a  result of my health. We’ve had to adjust routines, and transition accordingly without notice. Being a patient is an ongoing process.

Maneuvering

This is the life of a patient. Right?  Well, at least these are the cards I have been dealt. A life filled with flat tires caused by potholes that appear without warning. A life with no promises or guarantees.

When I put it like that, it does sound like life in general. Which is full of the unexpected. There is an exception though. This process of being a patient is full of inconsistencies brought on by health obstacles alone; and this is just the beginning.

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