Lorna is the most wonderful lady who lives in Perth in Scotland. Lorna suffered a massive heart attack in 2016 which completely rocked her world. It robbed her of her confidence and happiness, also she had to let her very successful florist business go, so her independence was also affected. She may not realise it, but I believe that Lorna was going through a period of health grief.
I first met Lorna after she had joined my Being The Best You members club, and we had a get together in Birmingham. Her smile was infectious, her eyes sparkly and her demeanour kind and gentle. However, I could see there was a quiet sadness hiding behind those sparkly eyes. I remember her being very emotional and tearful, almost as if she was afraid to let herself be happy.
As my own experiences show, after suffering any kind of ‘heart event’ (that seems to be the word that people use instead of ‘heart attack’ – I think it’s supposed to take the fear away?!), a kind of grief sets in.
I didn’t understand it, until a few years after my heart attacks I lost my mum and went through a period of ‘proper’ grieving. Grief is simply a period of deep, deep sadness that has a beginning, a middle and an end. You can’t fight grief, because for a while it owns you. It’s a futile battle to try and fight it, you really have to go through with the flow for a while.
I realised quite early on in my recovery from my first 3 heart attacks that there is such a thing as health grief. Grieving the loss of your health has an enormous impact on everything.
People who have been lucky enough not to suffer any major health problems in their life may not be aware of the impact – those are the people who will happily tell you “None of us know what’s round the next corner – any of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow”
How that phrase makes me want to scream. Because here’s the big difference! People who say that phrase (thinking they are being helpful in your hour of health grief) actually don’t spend a moment of their day worrying about being run over by a big bus. So please folks – don’t say it!
Whenever people said that me – too many times to count I might add – the first thought that went flying through my head was “Oh my god, not only do I have to worry that today’s the day my heart is going to kill me, I now have to worry about the blasted big red bus revving its engine outside my front door! Really?”
So yes, health grief is a thing. It robs you of your innocence about life, it affects your ongoing ability to recover, it strangles your strength and makes the emotional recovery from a ‘heart event’ even more difficult.
So, back to Lorna. Lorna joined my BTBY members club to get happier and healthier as she saw I had managed to do after my heart attacks. And I have to say, she is one of my star pupils!
I teach from experience. I’m now the proud owner of a badge that says I survived 5 major heart ‘events’ – oh blow it, lets just call them what they were – I have suffered 5 massive, enormous, earth and life shattering heart attacks!! And I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that my positive mindset is what keeps me ticking today (along with a handful of heart meds of course).
I teach my members how to put their happiness first, how to build back their confidence and banish some of the anxiety that befalls so many of us. I teach how to eat better, move better, think better and feel better. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. Weightloss is a very easy to achieve side effect, but more importantly for those who have come through, or are currently going through any health traumas, the outcome of my teaching, is an ability to deal with the curve balls that life throws at us – and to come out the other side better, stronger and no longer living in fear or grief.
I can see that Lorna has come such a long way and seems like a very different person now. Last week I did a LIVE Zoom call with some of my members and I had asked them to think about changing some of the aspects of their lives that were no longer supporting them – Lorna really made me giggle. She said she was really worried, because everything in her life was pretty much hunky dorey, she was happy, relaxed and enjoying herself – what was wrong with her??
I happily assured Lorna, that she mustn’t worry that she doesn’t worry any more! This showed great progress on her side, she clearly has successfully taken on board all my teachings and then some!
I asked Lorna to share her top 5 tips – this what Lovely Lorna sent:
Sally – many of my 5 tips to make life better when living with a heart condition are what I have learned from you, so a huge thank you.
1. The first and I think the most important is to learn to accept your medication, I now look at my pills with acceptance and tell myself they are keeping me alive. (I had a terrible time with side effects, but got there in the end).
2. Eating a healthy, balanced diet has helped me so much. I always try to make everything from scratch, many are your recipes, avoiding all nasty chemicals. Being retired now has freed up more time to be kinder to myself. You are what you eat.
3. Exercise makes my life better too, I am so lucky to have a beautiful golden labrador/retriever to walk. I don’t always manage 10000 steps and walk slower now, but I know my limits. I love meeting my doggy friends too. After a walk with my dog and a chat with other dog walkers, mentally I feel so much better. I did struggle with my mental health after my heart attack and still do. Having a heart attack changes the way I look at life. I try to treat every day like it’s my birthday.
4. Learning that rest is not a failure, is something else that helps me. I used to always have to have something to do. If I was not busy, I felt guilty. Now I know that rest is very important to make my life better. Thank you for reminding me that I have to give rest 100%. Love your saying ‘there is no such thing as a 50% rest’.
5. I lost my wedding flower business after my heart attack and I was frightened about what the future held for me. Slowly but surely I learned to appreciate and accept that I was living with a chronic illness and looked for new challenges. So to help make things better for my mental health, I decided to learn Italian and join a choir. A group called ‘Being the best you’ changed my life forever. I now have lots of new friends and a new direction in life.
Every day above ground is a great day ❤
Thank you for reading the five things that I think make my life better after my massive heart attack in 2016.
Thank you Lorna!
I am a proud ambassador for KardiaMobile and in the spirit of full transparency, I am paid by them to talk about their brilliant product, but I also have to tell you that I approached them and begged them to let me do some work for them. The super little Kardia Mobile device I carry with me at all times has helped alleviate much of my worry and grief. I think this will be great for Lorna too. KardiaMobile is a portable, pocket sized, medical-grade ECG recorder that you can use anytime, anywhere. In just 30 seconds it can detect Atrial Fibrillation, Bradycardia, Tachycardia or Normal heart rhythm. Of course it cannot detect or predict a heart attack, but for me, it gives me great peace of mind when I’m feeling bumps and palpitations in my heart. I can really easily record my symptoms and if I’m not happy, I quickly forward the ECG recording to my doctor for him to see. Having a KardiaMobile has alleviated so much extra worry and grief from my life, I recommend to every heart patient I meet.
So, my message to you Lorna;
“Thank you for sharing your top 5 tips – I am so happy that your life is back on track and you can look forwards to your future with excitement, passion and leave your health grief behind you now.
I am sending you a KardiaMobile portable ECG recorder for you to pop into your to your handbag. I know that this little device will go a long way to helping you further your journey, bring you even more confidence and help you move into your next chapter. I look forward to chatting to you about your experiences with KardiaMobile. Thank you Lorna. SB xx”
Find out how KardiaMobile could help you HERE