While in the hospital, the doctor had first taken hubby off his heart medication because it lowers heart rate. After the Pacemaker was installed they put him on half-dosage. The doctor felt this was the reason for his spiking heart rate. As a precaution they called in a tech to check the Pacemaker. Tech said all was functioning well so the doctor released hubby after increasing his med dosage back to what he’d been on prior to hospitalization. Other than having some pain at the site of the pacemaker, hubby fared well after getting home.
A few weeks later his heart rate began to spike. Hubby would have minor panic attacks when he’d see his rate jump from 60 to 124. This part of my caregiving involved remaining calm and patient in order to relieve his panic. I didn’t want to leave him in the house alone for fear he would have another attack. I scheduled a follow-up appointment at VA with the heart specialist. He told us these appeared to be benign tachycardia episodes, but he wanted to have hubby wear a heart monitor for 24 hours.
Two weeks later we received the results. Hubby’s heart rate did increase during the night while he was sleeping. However, any medicines they would give hubby would cause breathing difficulty and hubby sure didn’t need that. Doctor said as long as hubby wasn’t having any pain with the episodes, we would take a wait and see status. So, that’s where we are at this current time. When hubby suffers an episode, I calm him down and the spiking stops quickly.
Through the summer of 2011, we have been in a holding status pattern with the breathing and the heart issues. Hubby did a metabolism testing with the pulmonary specialist to measure his resting metabolic rate, met with a dietician, and attended a seminar on COPD and meds. This was all to be a precursor to an individualized exercise program which would be twice a week, two-and-a-half hours each session for six weeks. We still have not heard any of the results on the metabolic study nor on any exercise program. Hubby has been working on a Gazelle, which is a kind of air glider, and is able to do about 40 minutes at one time. We decided to purchase an elliptical machine for him to step up his home exercise. This is brand new and he is able to do a few minutes at the lowest resistance and rest and do a few more. When the weather is conducive (not too high of humidity) hubby has been able to work outside in the gardens doing some weeding and cutting back of the bushes. All of this has helped his mental state, which is vital to his quality of life. There is no cure for COPD/emphysema. None. Once the lungs are damaged, they do not repair themselves. However, exercise, losing weight, and mental state are important to having a better quality of life.
I have to be careful not to trip over the long tubing which allows hubby to traverse freely through the house. And I have to be patient. I do everything quickly, hubby operates in slow motion. We go out to eat lunch frequently, we play cards in the evenings, and when he is busy with outside work or watching a sports program, I am able to spend time writing. We installed an intercom system so that hubby can call me if he needs me, and I carry a cell phone so I can be reached if I leave the house to run an errand and he stays home. I have interested hubby in reading Chicken Soup for the Soul animal books. He spends time reading his Bible and doing his devotionals each day. And he likes to do Sudoku. I need to find some books for him for this winter. All in all, we have managed to change our lifestyle to accommodate his state of health. My role is to keep him positively motivated to avoid depression.
We have been blessed with a wonderful family. We laugh, we love, we cry, we pray, and we give thanks.
What I’ve learned is to openly embrace the situation, keep a line of prayer open to God, and give thanks to Him for every blessing He continues to bestow. There are so many. God is so good…all the time.
I will continue to post blogs on my role as a caregiver periodically.
“I didn’t plan to be a caregiver, but God had a different plan for me. I accept it with a happy heart, thankful that my love and I are still together.”