When the person for whom you care doesn't have a visual sign to others (including school staff) that he or she has a certain condition, it is sometimes difficult to convey that the challenges you face may be nearly the same as the student who cares for someone who uses a cane or a walker to get around.
It is easier for people in our lives to respond to what they can see rather than what they cannot see, especially if they have had no experience in dealing with a similar circumstance.
Sharing your story and the challenges you face every day can help others understand.
So what are some tips when your family member has a heart condition?
A person with a heart condition is likely to be on a special diet. Encouraging that person to stick to the foods that are healthy for them is one way of offering your support. If the diet is salt restricted you would not offer a salted pretzel just as you would not offer cotton candy to someone who has diabetes!
Regular exercise is important for everyone; for the person with a heart condition, exercise should be done a couple of hours after eating. When you eat, blood goes to your stomach to digest the fuel for your body. Then, when you use your muscles to exercise, the muscles require extra blood and oxygen and your heart, which is beating faster, does too. Blood can't be in two places at once! Help your family member exercise on an empty stomach.
Taking medications on schedule is also important for a person with any type of illness but especially one with a heart condition. The body does much better when it is regulated. For example, if your family member is taking a medication for blood pressure, the work load on the heart increases when the blood pressure goes up; the heart simply has to work harder as a pump.
We often think of February as Heart care month...love yourself as you exhibit loving your family member in the care you provide and remember to take care of your heart too!