Facing Your Future
It takes time to overcome the shock of a heart failure diagnosis. Understanding and accepting what this means and how it will affect your life will likely cause you to experience a range of emotions. Depending on your prognosis, your outlook on the future may also change. Heart failure can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual case, and everyone responds differently to treatment. While some experience complete reversal of symptoms in response to proper treatment, others only see their symptoms get worse.
You are allowed to grieve for yourself – your diagnosis leaves you uncertain of the quality and the possibility of your future, and grieving is both natural and healthy. Being aware of your feelings and responding appropriately is a crucial aspect of taking care of yourself. Listed below are various emotional stages you may expect after being diagnosed with heart failure.
Your Initial Reaction
This may be disbelief, denial, shock, or numbness. You may not acknowledge your condition for the first few months after your diagnosis. This is not an easy pill to swallow.
Adjusting to Your Condition
The next 3-12 months may involve preoccupation, fear, anxiety, anger, or hopelessness. Integrating new routines into your life and experiencing a new sense of responsibility may be a struggle. However, your constant questions of “why me?” and “what if?” will slowly transform into an acceptance of your condition.
New Habits Become Routine
Next, you will begin to accept new habits as routine and you’ll have a deeper understanding of your heart failure. At this point, you’ll likely feel more at peace. These new adjustments to your life may bring you satisfaction, and you may find hope in the future.
Remember to be patient with yourself as you travel through these emotional stages. Adjusting to your new lifestyle is not easy, but many people have accepted their diagnosis and continued on to live lives of purpose and hope. With a healthy amount of time, support, and patience, this can be you, too.
Is There a Cure For Heart Failure?
Heart failure is chronic; in most cases, it cannot be cured. Do no lose hope, however, as it can be managed. This means managing your own life by taking medications and making positive lifestyle changes.
Reach Out For Support!
As self-management is so important to your well-being, understand and accept how you respond emotionally to your diagnosis to ensure they don’t interfere with your care plan. If you find yourself needing encouragement, advice, or a friend, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support.
Your Care Team
Many people will work together to help you live better with heart failure.
- Your primary care provider. This is who you see for health problems. This could be a family practice physician, general internist, physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner.
- Your cardiologist. A physician specialized in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel diseases.
- Other healthcare professionals. A variety of other professionals – like nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, and care managers – may have a hand in different aspects of your care.
- You and your family. This is the core of your team! You all need be actively participate in your care, which means becoming educated about your condition and treatment, following your treatment plan, and clearly communicating with the rest of your healthcare team.