Dear Carolyn,“Yesterday while showering, I started feeling pain in my lower jaw, then it quickly spread to my upper jaw. Uh oh. Then it went to my chest. It was more intense than any other angina I have experienced. Dang! I asked my husband to bring me my fitness watch so I could check my pulse (still mid-shower). My heart rate was 125..“Well, I have had high heart rates in the shower before with no angina – ever. Still, the cardiologists said my maximum heart rate during exercise should be 120-130. This was neither a spectacularly hot nor lengthy shower. I was breathing more heavily during this episode, but was it shortness of breath or just due to pain? Not sure..“Anyway, this led me to thinking about adaptations and adaptive equipment..“I always thought that, when my mother-in-law refused to use a walker during her debilitating final weeks of metastatic malignant melanoma, she was being rather unreasonable. She clearly needed one. Holding onto the wall or furniture did not allow her stability or mobility..“My mom was all in with having a walker, but she refused to get a hearing aid despite clearly suffering from hearing loss.
.“I do not need a cane, nor a walker, nor a hearing aid..“But if this shower angina returns, then am I getting to the point where I need to start thinking about having a shower chair in case I become unsteady due to pain?.“Should I get an alert pendant like my mom wore that had an accelerometer to detect falls–at least while showering?.“I am not inclined to do any of this, but I do not want to avoid facing reality..“My self-image is that despite being 66 years old, I am pretty nimble-footed and not frail. After all, I did a rather wild impersonation of Elvis as a surprise during our school Christmas celebration. I wriggled around on the floor, and I shook my pelvis like ‘The King’ himself. Ah, but I digress..“The point is that I sit on the floor with my students. I dance around. I am not an athlete at all, but I am not infirm (yet!) I like to think that I’m not afraid of growing old nor of showing my age. I do not dye my hair (in fact, my gray hair peeking out from my Elvis wig was the clue my students needed to realize it was their teacher disguised as Elvis!) I do not use anti-wrinkle creams. I openly tell people my age..“But getting a shower chair?.“Hmm. Is there a reservoir of vanity within my spirit that rebels against such a sign of aging? The practical side of me says, ‘Don’t be a fool. Would you rather fall in a bathtub and really become infirm?’ But maybe there is a wee bit of resistance lurking within. So even contemplating getting a shower chair or a fall detection device for the shower seems so strange. But I do not want to end up falling..“I wondered if you have ever thought of asking your readers to share adaptations that they have made to deal with their heart issues, e.g:.
- ♥ are there any adaptive devices or strategies that you have found helpful?
- ♥ technology that is reliable?
- ♥ heart rate watches?
- ♥ what is overkill?
- ♥ what is reasonable to monitor, depending upon one’s condition?
“Everyone’s situation is different, undoubtedly..“But maybe your readers have some wisdom to share with us newcomers to this land of heart disease. That is what I love about your blog. There is an acceptance, a sense of welcome, a generosity of spirit..“I think the wise me will win out and I will accept what is needed.”.
All the best,.
The Persson model, for example, describes six positive ways we can adapt, and five not-so-positive ways.(1) The positive strategies are:
- acceptance (includes both stoicism and re-evaluation)
- positive avoidance
And the negative strategies are:
* Onesie image from Blue Belt Baby
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: I may not be the best one to address Marie’s questions, because I’m a person who has installed an oversized shower with not only a built-in bench seat, but three, count ’em, THREE grab bars (a testament to my overall philosophy that you can never really have enough grab bars in your bathroom). I am all about making life easier and safer at all times. I don’t worry about using something that might make me seem old. I AM old…
About Marie: “I’m a teacher, mother and wife. I live on the west coast of the U.S. My heritage is Native American. (In Canada, you are all more familiar with the term ‘Metis’); my background is Chippewa and French. My father’s side is part Seminole. I’m participating in women’s cardiac research called the WISE study at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles; it specifically explores why patients with coronary microvascular disease tend to develop heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.”
1. Persson L-O, Rydén A. “Themes of effective coping in physical disability”, Scandinavian Journal of Caring Science. 2006 Sep;20(3):355-63.
Q: What kind of adaptations in your own daily routine or around your home have helped you to adapt since your own diagnosis?
- The new country called Heart Disease (more about the many early changes I had to adapt to – an excerpt from my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease“, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017)
- Dear Carolyn: “Did I have a ‘real’ heart attack?”
- Dear Carolyn: “I’m having the time of my life!”
- Dear Carolyn: “My husband’s heart attack was treated differently than mine”
- Dear Carolyn: “I had both acid reflux and a heart attack at the same time!”
- Dear Carolyn: “I was never one to complain. . .”
- Dear Carolyn: “People can change for the better”
- Dear Carolyn: “Breaking up is hard to do.”