In 2007 I was diagnosed with a condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse. My doctor explained that my heart valves were,” floppy” and that it was mostly a benign heart condition. Recently, after another cardiologist visit, I was told that my heart also has a problem called Mitral Valve Regurgitation. The doctor explained that the blood in my heart was flowing backward. He also explained that my condition has reached a moderate level and that I would need open-heart surgery in the future.
I immediately became filled with panic. Surgery on the heart honestly sounds terrifying. I thought about my kids and what they would do if something happened to me. I ended up googling my condition and information about open-heart surgery later that night. I read about everything from the heart and lung machine, the procedure of open-heart surgery, and heart failure. I became so overwhelmed and began to cry. Google made it sound like I was doomed. I had panic attacks for several days. My mind was full of, “what ifs”. I constantly thought of my children and how they would handle like if anything happened to me.
I made myself sick with worry for one month. I felt completely hopeless. After reaching out for advice and prayers I knew that I had to make changes. I began to build my relationship with God again. Focusing on God gave me so much hope. It’s now been 6 months and my faith is even stronger. I believe that this was a huge wake-up call for me. I will list several changes that brought peace back to my life.
- I started to understand how anxiety works. I focused on coping techniques and getting help.
- I stopped Googling anything related to my symptoms or heart surgery. It’s important to be informed but Google gave me a lot of conflicting information.
- I left Facebook support groups.Facebook support groups are beneficial sometimes. They’ve helped me so much with breastfeeding and homeschooling support. That being said, the particular groups that I was a part of were full of people who had health anxiety like me. It was mostly a lot of questions and not a lot of support.
- I began to change my mindset about surgery. Open heart surgery has come very far. It has a high success rate and is very common. I keep reminding myself of this when thoughts start creeping into my mind.
- I started to focus on my health. I started taking several supplements that are good for the heart as well. This includes magnesium, Coq-10, Black Seed Oil, and Vitamin D.
- I started turning my worries to God. This gave me so much hope in my life. I believe that this was a wake-up call I needed. This entire experience has made me contemplate the meaning of my life, God’s mercy, and has helped me live in the moment. I remind myself that no one will leave this earth before their time. Nothing we can do can change this.
- I reached out to family and friends for prayer and support. Their love and kind words have also given me so much hope. I appreciate everything that they have done for me.
- I try to read motivational books, listen to motivational podcasts and videos. There have been several books that have changed the way I think about life. One of these books is, ” Don’t Be Sad” by Dr. Al Qarni. I have read this book several times. I always feel like it is speaking to me.
I’m not saying that I don’t worry about my heart anymore. I still worry at times but these acts have personally helped me cope. It took me several months to take control of my anxiety. I try to remind myself that living life, in general, is a risk. I want to make the most of it for myself and my children. Worrying about the future is wasting my current time living. My worry is taking away from my time with my children and loved ones. I don’t want to look back on life with regret.