Handling the Shock of a New Diagnosis
I was diagnosed with non ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy in January 2017. As of March 2017, we still don't know what caused it. My ejection fraction was between 25% and 27% according to the nuclear stress test and echo cardiogram. Two weeks later, my heart cath showed an ejection fraction of 20%. That means that my heart is pumping at a third of what it should. Luckily the heart cath showed that I only have 20% blockages, which really isn't much at all!
Against the advice of my cardiologists, I googled the prognosis of my condition. Seeing the statistics, I understand now why they didn't want me looking it up.
Oh the cycle of emotions that one goes through when given bad news... I went through the normal range of emotions, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, more anger, crying and depression.. And finally I accepted my diagnosis. I didn't have hope yet, that was to come later.
At first I wasn't sure if I should tell my family about the statistics that I found. After some prayer, I realized that it was only fair to them and to me for them to know. If my mom hadn't told me about her lung cancer when she was diagnosed, I would have been so upset, hurt and angry. Knowing her diagnosis allowed me to be more supportive, be more understanding and rearrange the huge list of responsibilities in my life - re prioritizing so that I could spend more time with her. I realized I needed to tell my family exactly what was going on with me, and how dangerous my condition really can be.
My husband cried more than I ever thought he would, trying to hide it from me at first, but then allowing me to comfort him. Comforting my husband's grief about my condition actually gave me strength! I don't understand why exactly, but it did. My 22 year old son tried being strong for everyone else and logical. And my 17 year old daughter listened, but then doesn't want anyone talking about it in front of her. My little 3 year old daughter wonders why mommy doesn't play nearly as much as she used to and would sometimes beg me to get down on the floor or chase her around. She is finally understanding that most days, mommy just can't. My sister and I have always been close, but this prognosis has brought us even closer.
I took my google search prognosis findings to my next appointment with the cardiologist and she explained to me that my attitude and beliefs about whether or not I will get better will have more of an effect on my health than she can express. That was the attitude adjustment I needed! Today I have a much better attitude and a lot more hope about my life and my quality of life.
In retrospect, it was such a good thing to tell my family and friends about my diagnosis and prognosis. They have been so supportive, encouraging and loving. Without their support, I don't know how I could emotionally handle everything that I have had to deal with in the past 2 months.