My hat is off to combat veterans. You have my utmost and most sincere respect! I have never seen combat but, I have experienced just a taste of the PTSD that many of you live with every day of your life.
It turns out, one of the fun things that most heart attack survivors go through is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nightmares, sleeplessness, fear, anxiety… these are all shared symptoms of PTSD regardless of how you came to be a part of this unfortunate club.
I have endured countless nights of sleeplessness only to finally fall asleep and awake to dreams of being chased by wild animals or natural disasters. I have spent months of my life terrified of eating certain foods as though they will cause an instant heart attack. I still panic when I feel like I am going to sneeze. After having my sternum cut in half, sneezing is one of the most painful things I have ever endured.
They give you a heart shaped pillow when you leave the hospital to help protect your chest and to squeeze when you sneeze. I still look for that pillow when I feel a sneeze coming on. Everything they (the medical field) talk to you about after a heart attack seems specifically designed to scare you into never eating again, never having fun, never taking risks, never having stress… Basically, to go home and live without living.
It takes a while to get it out of your head. But, for 1 in 8 open heart survivors, the PTSD never goes away. Where the other 7 out of 8 get over it and move on, that small percentage of us never escapes the fear. I will thankfully say that I am not in that small percentage. I have gotten past most of it and continue to do so. But, for those that cannot, my hat is off to you as well. You have to be stronger than I am to get through every day and for that, you have my respect.
As for those of you reading this that have never experienced what PTSD feels like, go to the Doctor, get checked out, take better care of yourself, and hopefully, you can live your life having not experienced any of this.
Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!