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How to support boyfriend through 1st anniversary of his sudden cardiac arrest

(15 Posts)
NatureWalk Tue 01-Oct-19 09:23:57

Not sure of this is the right place to post.

I've been with my new boyfriend for 3 months but things are starting to get serious. We both came out of abusive relationships so we are both working on trust etc.

Last Christmas at the ages of 37 he had a sudden cardiac arrest. Very long story short his ex wife wanted to leave him but keep the house and his military pension etc so drugged him. She admitted it to him in hospital but despite the police trying there is not enough evidence to prosecute. She evidently changed her mind about what she had done as she was the one to call the ambulance.

Its coming up to the 1st anniversary of his death as he calls it (he was dead when he arrived at hospital) and I can tell its bothering him. How can I support him through this?

I tend to deal with tough situations by making jokes etc and I thought of getting him a plushie heart to give him. He deals with things by being jokie too (he made a joke the other day about throwing a death day party) but im not sure if humour is the best way to handle this.

Sorry for the long post.

OP’s posts: |
kjhkj Tue 01-Oct-19 09:25:34

It sounds to me like he might need some professional help. Its not normal to have an anniversary for this sort of thing or for a year on to be a particular marker.

maslinpan Tue 01-Oct-19 09:27:30

Take your lead from him, if he wants jokey, fine. Talk to him rather than guessing about such a sensitive subject, he may want to downplay it, but you don't want to get it wrong.

NatureWalk Tue 01-Oct-19 09:47:23

@kjhkj I've browsed a sudden cardiac arrest support group on fb (cant ask this for advise there because my bf is on that page) and apparently it's quite common to find anniversaries a difficult time.

@maslipan I think I do need to talk to him about it, it just seems such a massive conversation for a new relationship but I probably need to just do it.

OP’s posts: |
Wiltshirelass2019 Tue 01-Oct-19 09:50:25

Are you sure he’s telling the truth about his ex drugging him? Seems a tad far fetched to me.... I also agree I think he needs counselling. 3 months into a relationship should be fun, you shouldn’t really have to be dealing with this.

NatureWalk Tue 01-Oct-19 10:03:08

@wiltshirelass I beleive him and his having spent time with his parents have heard it from them too. The relationship is mostly fun, it's so much more relaxed than my relationship with my ex husband. Unfortunately its something I have to deal with, he told me about it from day one so.i went into the relationship knowing what I was getting into. Hes the sweetest most loving person and I wouldnt change him for anything.

OP’s posts: |
Wiltshirelass2019 Tue 01-Oct-19 10:10:16

Still seems far fetched if police didn’t get involved in such a serious allegation. Also the hospital would have done a blood test to check for the cause of his heart attack, if it was drug related they would have started asking questions and passed the evidence onto the police .... I also would take what his parents say with a pinch of salt, parents believe anything they’re told.

saltysally Tue 01-Oct-19 10:11:46

If he has post traumatic stress he should get counselling. It sounds odd to call it an 'anniversary' but maybe that's just me

NatureWalk Tue 01-Oct-19 10:22:14

@Wiltshirelass2019 the police were involved, she was questioned etc but there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

OP’s posts: |
Bunnyfuller Tue 01-Oct-19 23:59:39

Having an anniversary of such a life-changing event IS something lots of us do. I’m on the BHF Healthunlocked forum and believe me, you do not forget the date ‘it’ happened.

I take it he went into respiratory arrest leading to cardiac arrest? @wiltshirelass2019 I don’t think the OP mentioned a heart attack, she said sudden cardiac arrest which may or may not be related to the drugs. If it was the drugs it isn’t sudden cardiac arrest, that’s a condition in itself.

He may well need to talk to someone, or he may not. As for the day itself just perhaps ask him if he wants to do anything? Lots of us feel it is actually a celebration as we survived!

NatureWalk Wed 02-Oct-19 13:02:22

@Bunnyfuller thank you. I'm uncertain on some terms etc but I know hes now at risk of a cardiac arrest as he has an internal defibrillator.

I think the stress had tipped I'm over the edge he told me last night he wants to move back to where he grew up and when I said that would be the end of us as I have the kids etc to think about he said I was over reacting and that he was just saying how he felt etc. He was definitely really low yesterday. I just dont know how to help him. It doesnt help that he still hasnt managed to sell the house he owns with his ex wife.

OP’s posts: |
KnitFastDieWarm Wed 02-Oct-19 13:05:59

It sounds to me like he might need some professional help. Its not normal to have an anniversary for this sort of thing or for a year on to be a particular marker.

Oh it is normal, believe me. hmm

OP, I can’t speak for your partner but I was very jittery and on edge around the anniversary of my (very traumatic) c-section. It’s really good that he’s aware of this as the cause of his anxiety and upset - maybe encourage him not to make any big decisions about moving at the moment?

KnitFastDieWarm Wed 02-Oct-19 13:07:55

In terms of helping him, I think for me the most important thing was having my feelings acknowledged as valid and real. No ‘you should be over it by now’ stuff (I’m not saying you’d say that but men especially are often made to feel like they should ‘pull themselves together’). Perhaps he could seek some support online from other cardiac arrest survivors in one of the forums other posters have mentioned.

Bunnyfuller Wed 02-Oct-19 14:22:25

You don’t just get over such a thing. Medically they’re fantastic, and cardiac rehab is very helpful (was he offered this, OP, did he attend?). The quality of this varies by NHS trust but it does help to be around people who understand at least a bit.

As he has an ICD fitted, his chance of a cardiac arrest again is now less than most of us without an ICD. The ICD will pick up if his heart is wandering into a dangerous arrhythmia and it basically gives a teeny shock to ‘reboot’ it (the heart doesn’t stop in a cardiac arrest, it just goes into a chaotic rhythm called ‘ventricular fibrillation’ which if not fixed with a defib pronto will lead to full on end of life). I’m not sure where his wife drugging him fits, did she give him cocaine? That can cause a big heart attack which could lead to cardiac arrest. It sounds more like his heart has a defect where it can just randomly go into this rhythm and thus the ICD.

It does sound like he needs some professional help, I know myself the sense of unreality (my event was April this year) is still going, and being fairly young (in cardiac terms) it does sit badly when you see so many unhealthy people NOT having this.

I would let him get past the anniversary without any make or break discussions because the pressure can genuinely make a heart patient feel bloody ill!
My DH has brought something enormously stressful home (think possibly losing job and pension) and I know My mental recovery has been hit hard and I’ve pretty much withdrawn from everything. It sounds a bit wimpy, but the shit that life brings can just feel too much when you’ve recently looked death in the face, and are aware that it could pop back anytime. I remember very calmly thinking ‘oh, so I’m going to die here, on the table, that’s it then’ undramatic, no tears, just knew I couldn’t ‘fight’. Thankfully the doctors did and a bucketful of epinephrine and I’m here to whinge!

He will probably want to go over it a fair bit, what he can remember, for me it’s processing (or trying to make it real).


user1493494961 Wed 02-Oct-19 14:35:08

I think it's odd to have an anniversary, it sounds like he comes with a lot of baggage, he needs professional help.

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