A Travel Checklist for Coumadin Patients

A Travel Checklist for Coumadin Patients

I’m getting ready to go on my first “big” trip since my surgery, and while I’m excited for vacation, I’m also a bit nervous. What if I forget something? What if something goes wrong? What if my INR shoots up through the roof and I bleed to death in the hotel room like some wannabe Hollywood burnout?

In the past, I’ve found that making checklists helps me organize not only my stuff but my thoughts as well. So today’s post is as much for me as for you, my fellow cardiac patients. What follows is a list of things to do and to bring with you if you, like me, are about to embark on a journey of more than a couple of days and have a heart that you’d like to keep ticking for many years to come. Continue reading

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False Alarms: Lessons in Patience and Positive Thinking

False Alarms: Lessons in Patience and Positive Thinking

I remember my symptoms all too well. Chest pain. Back pain. A soreness around the ribs and difficulty breathing deeply, as though I was wearing an invisible corset. Anxiety growing like a cancer in my stomach and my heart.

Which was why, when I experienced similar symptoms a couple of weeks ago, I immediately imagined the worst. Continue reading

Dining and Discipline: Diet Tips for Coumadin Patients

Dining and Discipline: Diet Tips for Coumadin Patients

There’s no tougher time for dieting than the holidays. Whether you’ve got serious health restrictions or just trying to lose a couple of extraneous pounds, it’s difficult to maintain one’s sense of discipline when a big, fat turkey dinner is just lounging on the table, waiting for you, singing to you its siren song. “You know you want me,” it whispers seductively — and you do, you really, really do.

Anticoagulation therapy patients are lucky in that ours is a relatively lenient diet. Continue reading

Dreadful Dreaming: Nightmare and Sleep Tips for Cardiac Patients

Dreadful Dreaming: Nightmare and Sleep Tips for Cardiac Patients

As any good doctor will warn you, nightmares are one of the most common side effects of open heart surgery. Anxiety over an upcoming operation, the fear that another might soon follow, bad memories surrounding the first — with so many possibilities, it would be a bit surprising if you didn’t have a disturbing dream or two. But with all the stress of reality, who needs the extra burden of stressful slumber as well?
Continue reading

Test Anxiety

Test Anxiety

I’ve got my first post-surgery CT scan coming up soon and, honestly, I’m a bit nervous. Not because of the scan itself; it’s a quick and painless enough procedure, though the blood work is annoying. So far I haven’t had any serious complications, but I can’t help worrying: what if they find something?
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Me vs Mortality: Coping With Fear of Death

Me vs Mortality: Coping With Fear of Death

The greatest gifts my AVR experience gave me were an epiphany — put simply, I wanted to live — and a newfound determination to fight for what I wanted. But the flip side of wanting to live is not wanting to die. Since surgery I have discovered a certain terror of death which I never experienced before, and when it hits, it hits hard.
Continue reading

Pillow Talk: Tips for Maintaining (Some) Physical Comfort After Heart Surgery

Pillow Talk: Tips for Maintaining (Some) Physical Comfort After Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is the enemy of physical comfort. If you’re about to have surgery (or have just recently rolled off the operating table), welcome to the wonderful world of feeling like a train wreck 24/7. While there will be pain medications — many of them — to take care of the big stuff, they won’t fix everything. Some things will still hurt, some quite unexpectedly. Coughing. Sneezing. Lying flat. Lying on your side. Even hiccups, of all the stupid things in the world. Luckily, there is something you can do about it. Continue reading