Your husband has had open heart surgery and you have just joined an elite club, most probably against your will. You have become a cardiac wife.
You may have felt the moment of stark terror watching your husband succumb to a heart attack before your eyes. Unlike an accident where one might be heroic and lunge a hand against some spurting artery to stem the bleeding, there are few heroic actions a wife may take to help her husband other than calling 911 and praying. If you are blessed, you have not been called upon to begin CPR.
You have sat in waiting rooms wondering and worrying. You have returned home with his jewelry - his wedding ring and watch - in your purse. You have kissed him and entrusted him to masked strangers in surgical scrubs. You have waited the endless tension filled vigil during his surgery. You have listened to surgical updates concerning the progress of his operation.
You have held his hand throughout the post-op period. You have seen and heard things in the hospital that he will never remember, but you can never forget. You have prayed endlessly.
You have become an expert nurse to care for his post-surgical recovery. It is you who have had to remember medication schedules, medical instructions, and dreaded danger signs.
You have spent many sleepless nights. You have felt a profound fatigue. You have jumped at his every move and gesture. You have stared at him endlessly, watching him sleep, eat, talk, walk, and regain his strength.
You have had to learn to cook all over again. Low-fat and Low-cholesterol have become your new mottos.
You have found that it is not just HE who is a heart patient, you and your entire family have become a cardiac family. It has impacted all areas of your life.
You have awakened at night to reach over and touch his back, his chest, his hand, to reassure yourself.
You have sometimes been startled at the sight of his chest or leg scar, reminders of the long, hard fought battle. Then you remember that the battle was won, not lost.
You have attended a Mended Hearts Meeting and marveled at all those others who have shared your identical experience, when you thought so surely that yours was so unique an experience, so personal, that no one else in the world could ever have been through it.
You have also noticed the wife next to the Mended Heart. You have smiled. You both know the journey each has traveled. Both of you are veterans in this cardiac war.
You have been touched by a new sense of mortality. You know now, if you did not before, that we are all so very fragile. It does happen to "us" too, not just "them."
You are grateful to God for each day, each hour, each moment of this precious time that you have been given. You have vowed never to waste a second of it. You have never again taken anything for granted.
You are his wife. You are his friend. You are his love. You are his confidante. You are his cardiac partner. You are the courageous woman in his life. You too have served, while standing and waiting.
A Cardiac Wife
Mended Hearts Assistant Regional Director--Arizona
Chapter 297 Vice President/Program Chairman