Focus on me
“I am the caretaker of my family in all senses of the word. I take care of my father, who has Alzheimer’s, and my son, who struggles with other things. I also am financially responsible. It’s very difficult and I feel that weight on my shoulders consistently. It’s a never-ending stress and constant attention. I also have asthma and diabetes. I’m only 31 – but I’ve already had serious complications.
In the last year, they’ve come in waves, high cholesterol, hypertension, leg pain, tiredness and chest pains. I began care at Sixteenth Street when all these issues started to surface. Dr. Pyne is my doctor. She is tremendous. You can feel how much she cares about me – how much she cares about all of her patients. When I told her about my chest pains, which I had been putting up with for some time, she got me an appointment with a cardiologist and sent me for a test. The machine went crazy. I’ll never forget the look on the doctor’s face when the machine started to race. I knew something was wrong.
They sent me immediately to the emergency room at St. Luke’s and told me I needed open heart surgery right away. I had one vain one hundred percent blocked, one ninety percent blocked and another eighty percent. It happened so fast. Everything got direly serious in a matter of seconds. All I could do was cry and think how I was going to die. They operated on me that day. I can’t express how thankful I am. The operation was a success. I only spent seven days in the hospital. Then came the truly difficult part – recovery.
I suffered during recovery. My body hurt for days and my inability to care for my family was worse. My father and son are very dependent on me. I fell into a depression. I cried and was unable to sleep. My asthma was painful and every cough took a toll on my body. Because I didn’t properly do my recovery exercises, I developed liquid in my lungs and I had to return to the hospital to drain them. I felt like everything was crashing down.
That’s when I found a psychologist at Sixteenth Street. I love this service – I needed it and still do. I started to find other services at the clinic too. Alba, from the Chronic Conditions Department, was absolutely amazing. I started going to her support group. This helped me more than I could say. I was able to let go, de-stress and talk about my issues and problems with people I trusted. You feel like you belong and are in a trusted space. We talk about diabetes, which is helpful. But we talk about anything and everything also. It’s a free space for sharing and supporting. And Alba is so patient, available and supportive. She calls me, she invites me to the group, she makes sure I am ok. Some day when I am healthy enough, I will go to Zumba at the clinic also. It’s one of my goals.
These different services have helped me find a place of peace and be myself again. I still struggle. I struggle with my father, my son and putting myself first. But with the support I have at the clinic, my doctor, my psychologist, my support group, Alba – I can do things for me and focus on me. I need to be healthy to care for my family. I have to focus on me to be healthy, and Sixteenth Street makes that possible.”