Yesterday i had the review with my cardiologist I have been waiting for since my MRI. I got answers. Perhaps not all the answers, but enough to feel as though a weight has left my shoulders. To feel free from worrying about when my heart would give out, to be relieved with a firm diagnosis and prognosis and immense joy in sharing all this with the many good friends and wonderful family. In this long journey I have walked since the twins were born, no matter how I may have felt at the time I was never alone. And when I felt I was too tired to keep in touch with people and would lose all my friends, they would rally around and take away that responsibility. When I felt I didn't know many other Mums in my area due to chronic illness, I suddenly saw the wonderful kind hearted ladies from the twins kindy.
So it is with immense joy I share, I am a Peripartum Cardiomyopathy SURVIVOR.
All the tests indicate that I experienced heart failure due to pregnancy. There is no known reason why this happens to some women, but thoughts are that it is autoimmune and perhaps a genetic susceptibility plays a role. My heart function was down to 35% and failed to improve at first with all the right treatments. It actually seemed to be dropping at one point and discussions with my cardiologist of a future transplant if things continued to get worse and talks of a pacemaker were things never far from my mind.
Neither were the months before I got my diagnosis when I thought I was the worlds worse mother. I was fighting my body to get up and attend to my gorgeous babies, but constantly tired, struggling to breath (I felt like I was drowning), and my heart rate was always beating loudly and much too fast in my ears. I felt selfish that I couldn't push myself more, harder, to be the right kind of Mum. Even after diagnosis I couldn't separate my illness from those feelings of being a bad parent.
But now. I am much kinder to myself. I was not the worlds worse Mother. I was just a sick Mum, doing my best. There is joy in no longer carrying around that guilt.
And one of the greatest things, that this form of cardiomyopathy is the one you are most likely to recover from. The greatest risk of relapse is if I were to get pregnant again, but I've got my two little dudes and I'm immensely happy with that.
I do also have arrhythmia's - SVT and a form of SVT, Inappropriate sinus tachycardia. My heart still races from time to time for no apparent reason so I must be careful with how much activity I do at any one time, what I eat and basically living a healthy life.
There is still the issue of my mystery illness - a likely autoimmune condition causing inflammation somewhere in my body resulting in my aches, fever, fatigue etc but my cardiologist is referring me to the Rheumatologist he works alongside and is sending a letter to my immunologist and amongst other things I will be tested for Addison's. I have a fabulous cardiologist, who will see me again next month to ensure my heart function has stabilised again (Not dropping below the 50% it's at now)
So Fingers crossed gone are the days of exercise restrictions, Mother guilt and fear of future. Here's to all of you, my supporters, my family, my friends. I have made it this far in one piece because of you!
And that old you only have five years to live after diagnosis? Pfft, thanks to modern medicine we'll be having a HUGE party that day! You can hold me to it!