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We need to take care of ourselves too

Sri Claney knows first-hand how important it is to take care of your own health, in order to have the physical and emotional energy to take care of those around you.

Sri Claney

Sri’s first experience with heart disease came when a problem with her heart valves was discovered at the age of 18, when she was pregnant.

"The doctors were saying that one of the valves didn't open and close properly," Sri recalls. "I'd had rheumatic fever and that is what it was from."

Following a successful surgery to replace the valve, nearly two decades passed before Sri suffered any further difficulties with her heart.

But after her husband had a stroke in 2016, Sri began to suffer from extreme stress and heart palpitations, and she noticed she was struggling to breathe properly and was unable to do things she used to be able to do.

"With the burden on my shoulders of being his main carer, I became very stressed."

Sri was admitted to hospital where doctors explained that fluid had started building up in her lungs and she had heart failure, a serious condition where your heart struggles to pump blood around your body.

"It was really scary when I heard that. I never knew what heart failure was, but I've done a lot of research and it's not as scary as I thought. Still scary, but not so scary."

The heart failure has, however, had a significant impact on her lifestyle.

"Before I got heart failure, I was running my own shop, trying to get my husband to exercise, and I had a rental property to take care of. I was able to do everything — garden and everything. It was no problem.

"But now I just have to do things one at a time and try not to do too much.”

Sri continues to be the main carer for her husband, whose memory has been significantly affected by the stroke.

"My husband has lost his memory so he’s not so aware of my condition — he knows I have a heart problem, but he doesn't know the condition. He just forgets, he has a 50-second memory."

Even though she gets some help with his physical care, Sri continues to be his main emotional support.

"I'm closer to him now, but I think it is at a different level. I like it that way, knowing that people I love are happy, making sure they're OK."

But she says it’s important to look after your own physical health, get enough rest and be good to yourself.

“There’s that saying, ‘you cannot serve from an empty vessel’.

"It is easy to miss your medicine, but don’t do it. And sleep! Sometimes when I stay up late to do things then the next day, I just don't know what I'm doing. So, try to sleep and rest with this condition.”

Talking about your journey and staying positive are also key to good emotional health, she adds.

"Try to talk about it and share with your friends. If you have a good friend, you can share with them.

"Stay positive and don’t think the worst. It’s like your life is this film you make in your head, so don't make a bad film, you don’t want to watch the horror movie in your head. Try to make a happy movie. It’s you watching it, so make something beautiful to watch."