Robert's Story: Finding the Right Team

Updated:Jun 13,2011

Heart Failure Personal Story PhotoAge: 47
Washington, N.C.

Physical Activity & Fitness
"My wife and I like to walk on good days as I can stick with that better than anything else ... the exercise machines wind up in the closet. I'm not allowed to lift much, so my wife and son have to do that for me now. (You can imagine when my wife and son are lugging all of the bags at the airports that people are thinking, 'Just look at that guy making his wife and son carry all of the bags!')"

"At my last visit, my doctor had the physical therapist go over a list of exercise suggestions, but in the end, we determined that walking was the best because I could stick with it and liked it best. She told me to listen to my body as it was telling me how it felt, and if I were feeling pain, shortness of breath, etc., then I would know that I was overdoing it and that I needed to pace myself. Also, she told me to start off slow at first and gradually build up to a certain level of walking that I was comfortable with. I should do a little more each time and see what my limits were."

Working With Your Doctor
"When my local doctor diagnosed my heart failure, he sent me to a cardiologist in Greenville, 20 miles away. The doctor in Greenville was very knowledgeable and got me started on the right medicines. After going through the echos, catheterization and other tests, we met back at his office for the results and plan of action. I took my wife and son to the examination room so they could ask questions, as they were naturally concerned. The doctor was very short with his answers and I could tell that he wanted the floor the whole time. After the meeting, as we were going out, he asked me to stay. He then asked me to leave my family in the waiting room next time because it wasn't his place to tell them about my condition and he didn't have time to answer questions several times over.

"I didn't say anything because I'm naturally a peacemaker and didn't want to make the guy mad because he was trying to help me. But that really incensed my wife when I told her, and she said, 'We're getting a second opinion right away.'  When we first told the cardiologist of this, he acted a little incensed himself but agreed to send me to who he thought was the best and most knowledgeable doctor on CHF [congestive heart failure] in our area of the country. This was the best thing that happened to me since being diagnosed. My new doctor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill is caring, compassionate and willing to answer all of the questions that you throw at him. Let's face it, when you're sick or in bad shape, the last thing you want to deal with is grumpy or uncaring people."

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