Life Change!


My name is Christine and I am 84 years old. My heart failure diagnosis was made about a year and a half ago. In the beginning, I was not feeling well and was nauseous. My youngest son took me to the emergency department of our local hospital. I was initially screened by a doctor who took an ECG. I fully expected to return home after a check-up, but the doctor told me my heart rhythm was totally 'out of sync,' and I was to be admitted for tests.

The result of the tests on admission revealed that I had a pulmonary embolism as well as an irregular heartbeat. The final diagnosis, after even more tests, showed that I had heart failure caused by atrial fibrillation. I spent four weeks in the hospital while the cardiac team tried various medications to control my heart failure, including medication to strengthen my heart (one of the tests indicated that I had only 20% function of my heart).

Returning home with the help of my son

After I had some physiotherapy to help me regain the strength to walk and perform daily activities and proper adjustments to my medications, I was allowed to return home. My eldest son, in Orlando, drove to Quebec to stay with me and help me cope. Of course, all of this was going on during the COVID-19 pandemic, and my son had to stay quarantined for two weeks in my house. My other two sons brought food for him and left it on the veranda for him.

When I returned home, all went well for a couple of weeks, but then I started to feel sick again and had to ask my son to take me twenty-five miles back to the hospital in the middle of the night (poor guy!). This time I was diagnosed as being severely dehydrated and was given intravenous fluid. So, during yet another two weeks in the hospital, they decided to try shock treatment to get the heart 'back on track'. This was done, fortunately with no pain which I was anticipating.

Managing heart failure on my own

Next, the team decided to have a pacemaker inserted to help keep the heart rhythm in its new and correct 'beat.' I was given more medication, and then I was able to return home. Before returning to his family in Orlando, my son installed an extra rail on the other side of the stairs and a couple of bars in the bathtub, for which I am very thankful!

Presently, I am holding my own, I think. I still do not have much energy, but I am able to make my evening meals. I have a friend who does housework, and she comes once a month to help. Also, our local medical clinic looks after me well. The nurse comes to take blood tests and also came to give me my COVID-19 boosters. As for the pulmonary embolism, I was told that the blood clots in my lungs would gradually be absorbed by my body. My next appointment at the Heart Failure Clinic is on St. Patrick's Day, so I am hoping that it brings 'Good Luck'! :)

Thank you for allowing me to tell my tale! I am happy to be alive!

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