The Journey Through Heart Failure
How I chose to look at death
When I received a diagnosis of congestive heart failure two years ago, I did not know how to respond except to ask the cardiologist how long I would live. She sort of looked down, and then told me that if I had cancer that was as bad as my heart condition, she would advise me to put my affairs in order. News like that has a huge impact on anyone, but the truth is we are all going to die. We just don't know when. At least I have a vague idea of when and how.
I began searching the internet for articles that were reputable about heart failure and how long somebody could live with that condition. I checked symptoms and advice as to diet and exercise. I knew my mother had died of a combination of heart failure and a growth in her brain that had left her incapable of having a normal conversation. Odd, all her symptoms were on the right side and her right ventricle was the one failing and my symptoms are the same but on my left side. The only difference is the left ventricle is the big pumper for the organs in the body except for the lungs. Those are pumped by the right ventricle. I have picked up a lot of information, first because my mother was sick, and now because I am sick.
It's been two years since my diagnosis of heart failure, but I am still alive and doing all I can to live my life productively and creatively. I believe that the day I die will actually be a gift for me, because I will no longer be old, short of breath, sleeping on two to three pillows or worrying about the state of my pocketbook and the world. I have come to some peaceful agreement with death. After all, it is inevitable. I have learned to focus on the positive things, looking at each day as a gift, and enjoying the sound of birds singing and watching the sunrise and sunset. I get another day to be with my dog and to sit on the steps in the evening and feel the cool breeze on my skin.
My personal belief is the more laughter there is in your life and the more kindness you extend to others keeps the joy inside you. Happiness is a state of mind, and so is sadness. I chose happiness and have found between that and strong spiritual beliefs, my days are filled with the most joy I have experienced in life so far.
I have two special needs people living in my home, and tonight I was grateful they were here. I believe I died for a brief moment, but they were there to grab me so I didn't fall, and I am comforted by the fact they are here and I am not in the house alone. They said my eyes were staring straight ahead, as though I had died, and for me, it was very brief, but I felt as though I stepped into another realm for just a short period of time. Once I came out of it, I was very confused for just a moment, and then things began to come back to me. While I was "gone," I saw a bright light through slats like a fence, and behind the fence and in the light, I could hear people talking and laughing. But it was very brief. Perhaps it is a wakeup call to finally get my affairs in order.
If you are going through any type of medical issues such as cancer or heart failure, then what I have said probably makes a lot of sense to you. I hope so because when we can't change something, especially our health, the best thing to do is to enjoy every moment we have with ourselves and those we love.