A simple question, really. But it has taken me three days to try to answer it.

The question came in a one-line email from a friend I haven’t seen since I was a teenager. It also came at a time when I was feeling, well, miserable. So I didn’t answer. (Sorry!)

Here’s the weird thing: I really feel fine. Except for some psychosomatic pains, especially when I tell someone the story, my body feels just fine. But one day after getting home from the hospital, my mental and emotional state were . . . not.

I’m told the cardiologist who did the second angiogram spoke to me at length following the procedure. I retained nothing from that conversation since I can’t even conjure up his face. Fortunately, he also talked to my husband, Scott.

Scott relayed to me that nearly the first thing out of the doctor’s mouth was to watch for depression and that it was common in heart attack survivors. It’s a funny thing about depression: just when I should feel happiest (I’m alive, I’m going to recover, my children are here, I’m not in the hospital), I’m the weepiest.

And the dingy-est too (is that even a word?). I burned things in the oven. We didn’t eat dinner til 8 p.m. or put the kids to bed til almost 10. Bought groceries one meal at a time. Went the wrong way repeatedly when driving to a store I’ve been going to for almost 20 years. (Scott insisted I be supervised on my walks and errands – thank you to Christine for coming along for the tour of Roseville.)

At first I thought it was shock, and it probably was. And then the crying started.

But here’s the other thing about depression, at least for me. As soon as I said the word aloud, and started talking to Scott, Christine, and my mom about it, I started to feel better. And after one of my 30-minute walks on Saturday (on the treadmill, just a little faster this time, actually broke a sweat), I felt more like myself than I had in a week. And by Sunday I visited friends, worked on my almost-four-year-old’s birthday party, indulged in a little retail therapy, researched heart disease online, and, with Scott’s help, made a super-healthy lunch and dinner on time. I’m humbled and in awe of the body and soul’s ability to recover and of the power of people, prayer, friendship, and love.

So, today I’m feeling just fine, thank you. I can’t wait for rehab this afternoon. I have this little daydream that they let me break into a run. I think that’s just what I need.

Comments

  1. Carolyn Tonneson says:

    I love this, Jen!! I’m passing along the address to others…it’s a good education for all of us–women and men alike! Carolyn

  2. THank you for sharing Jen. I keep thinking of what I could do for you so far away, but I know what you really need is time, family and working through it. Oh, and some cooking and cleaning fairies would help too. Sorry again I am so far away. I know I went through some immediate and some delayed PTSD after being sick and facing the mortal reality of life. You are so strong and will come out even stronger – I truly believe it. Watch out world – Jen hasn’t even gotten started! Love you
    Kate