Wednesday, May 11, 2005

... And Knowledge Is Power

Nearly 5 million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with this condition, the situation can seem hopeless.

While it's true there's no cure for heart failure, most people can still lead a full and enjoyable life. The key is in managing your condition. Follow your doctor's orders, take your medications exactly as prescribed, and make appropriate lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.

As corny as it sounds, I believe that knowledge really is power. There's nothing worse than asking a doctor or nurse, "Why are you giving him oxygen?" or "What is Dobutamine?" and being told, "Don't worry about it ... we're taking care of him." No, sorry ... it doesn't work that way for me.

I realize everyone's different and some people would rather not hear details. But personally, I function much better once I know what to expect. I can handle anything ... and it helps if I can prepare for it.

I want to know things like:

What a medication is, what is does, and possible reactions
The progression and stages of heart failure
What to expect when talking with a heart transplant team

If you're anything like me and would prefer getting all the information available rather than taking a doctor's word for it ... here are some links that may help you get through.

The Zapper - An amazing site for cardioverter-defibrillator implant recipients, their families, and care givers. The people who run the website and those who post to their message boards are amazing. They treat everyone like family and are quick to offer emotional support when things get tough. - The most thorough and detailed website on congestive heart failure ... bar none. There's not a question I've had that I couldn't find the answer to on this website. Their "Heart Failure FAQ" is the best place to begin if you or a family member is just starting their journey.

The American Heart Association - A good overall heart website. They have some great recipes and a helpful medication table.

Google - It may seem obvious to some of us, but if you're new to the Internet, you need to know that a good search engine can be your best friend. You can go to Google and type in "Primacor" and see a list of website that will give you information about that particular medication or type in "Congestive Heart Failure" and find information that you may find helpful.

That's just a short list ... The Zapper and CHF Patients both offer links to websites that offer loads of information. It's a long journey ... and sometimes it's hard ... but remember, you're not alone.

You are not alone
I am here with you
Though you're far away
I am here to stay
You are not alone
I am here with you
Though we're far apart
You're always in my heart

Michael Jackson - You Are Not Alone

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