Posted by Posted by Yeo C.W on Date Jun 6, 2014 on Date Jun 6, 2014
I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in my late thirties. My doctor told me that my heart was weak and could no longer pump blood through my system properly. As a result, I often suffered from shortness of breath, weakness and swelling.
I never imagined that someone my age and as active as I was would have to live with a heart disease. I remember lying awake at night wondering how my life would change. How much of my life would I have to give up? Would I ever get better? For the first time in my life, I feared for my health.
Although it was hard, I knew I had to come to terms with my condition and my life ahead. I was determined to know as much about my treatment options as possible, and even make some of these decisions in advance. It was important to me to do everything I could to make it easier for my loved ones should my condition take a sudden turn for the worse.
Being introduced to the process of Advance Care Planning helped in many ways. The first time I heard about ACP was through my care team at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who helped arrange a meeting with a trained ACP Facilitator. Many people, myself included, think that ACP discussions are about death and dying. In actual fact, it’s really about how well you want to live. Nevertheless, it wasn’t an easy conversation to have, but knowing how it might help relieve the stress on my loved ones in the future made me push on.
What does living well mean to me? While many people would consider my condition to be a life-limiting one, I believe living well is living my life to the fullest and treasuring every moment spent my loved ones. For as long as I live, I want to be able to take care of myself without being a burden to others around me, including my family and friends. The treatment preferences in my ACP are a reflection of this.
The hardest thing about ACP was telling my loved ones about my decisions. Even though I knew how important it was to be open with them so that if something should happen to me, they know how I would want to be cared for, I still wasn’t sure if they could accept and respect my preferences. When I finally told my wife, she was naturally worried initially, thinking that I wanted to give up on treatment. However, we had a long talk and I was able to share with her my hopes and wishes for care and assure her that it was not what she thought.
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