Betty from Michigan

Gene my husband for almost 43 years went in for a mitral valve replacement and double by-pass in February 2015. He had congestive heart failure, many stents, one heart attack, a-fib and bleeding ulcers prior to surgery. Also, stage 3 kidney failure. Surgery was successful but there were many complications afterward. It ended up him being in the hospital for 48 days. Sixteen of those days were in the hospitals rehab floor. He ended up getting a pacemaker, fluid drained from his lungs and heart, a-fib cardioversion and a pericardial window. He had severe edema also. I spent nights there when it needed to be done, sleeping in a chair or fold out bed. I was the liason between him and the doctors and nurses. I kept a record of who the nurses were, what doctors saw him and what they did and his blood pressure and O2 levels. I also wrote down his concerns and problems as he didn't always express them to those who could help. I quickly figured out who was willing to listen to me if there was a problem. Unfortunately, I also found out those who it was just a job with not much compassion. It was an emotionally draining experience but he did make it home. We are still dealing with some of the limitations but the recovery is taking small steps forward and sometimes backwards. I had some support of family members and neighbors. It was hard to ask for help with things that need to get done but I swallowed my pride and did ask and receive help when needed. Find that one person who will listen to you unconditionally and talk their ear off. It is easy to get depressed when dealing with any health crisis. Writing down the positive things helps as it gives you a visual. You need to remember to sleep, eat, laugh, cry and thank god for every day as we are only promised the present.

Share Your Caregiving Story Here


+ Tips for sharing your story

This is an update to my family caregiving story that I have already shared.

Only one story submission per person and/or per household will be accepted.

I also agree that, only when necessary, AARP or its representative may call me with requests for information, as needed to verify my story.

By clicking “Share Your Story”, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the terms and conditions of AARP’s Release Agreement and agree to receive emails about AARP activities, events, and membership benefits.