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The Art of Coping

Monday, March 05, 2012

By Becca Atherton

In a little over a week, I will be having surgery to replace the battery of the pacemaker/defibrillator I had put in me about five years ago. I’ve had four open heart surgeries, more than 20 heart caths and the original surgery to implant the pacemaker/defibrillator.

Now, whenever I tell people this, I usually get the sympathetic look and a comment along the lines of, “Oh, well, I’m sure you’re used to it.”

But that is where they are wrong, very wrong.

As a heart patient, you don’t get used to having to fight for your life. Although I realize that there are different degrees of risk to each procedure, you don’t get used to hugging your loved ones for what might be the last time before you go under. I am not used to the fear or the anxiety that builds up inside of me as the surgery date approaches. I am not used to the idea of me possibly dying. You don’t get used to any of these things. You just learn how to cope with them.

I have learned how to deal with the horrifying reality of open heart surgery and all the things that come with it. Coping with these things do not equal being used to them. Not surprisingly, it seems like those who don’t go through it just don’t understand it. But maybe we can change that

Whenever someone makes a comment that is naive, just say, “No not really,” or “It is still scary.” Because that’s the truth. Open heart surgery, heart caths and all the other medical things we go through are scary. We don’t get used to them. We just cope with them.


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The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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