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Avatar universal

post bypass anxiety and personality changes

My husband had quintuple bypass surgery 8 months ago. He had a mild heart attack 13 years previously which did not require any surgical intervention. I have noticed after his surgery that his anxiety level is extremely high. He lashes out for the smallest things and everything seems to get to him, especially anything that involves me. He drinks more wine to relax and I think it is having an adverse effect. When I mention that he might try some relaxation techniques to quell his anxiety he "goes off". He says "the doctor says I shouldn't be stressed and you are adding to it". I am so worried that if he continues on this pace he will wind up back in the hospital. Now when he stresses about something or drinks I want to avoid him because I don't want to hear him yell or tell me the latest thing I have done to give him anxiety,stress, etc. I spoke to the nurse months ago during his cardiac rehab and she said not to fight with him but don't let him abuse me either. I just don't know what to do anymore. He was not like this prior to the surgery and I just wondered if this is common and if it subsides. I am really trying not to feel sorry for myself but his heart surgery really happened to all of us and has affected everyone. I feel that I am walking on eggshells. Part of me wants to run and hide....getting close to my breaking point. Do you have any advice?
Thank you!
89 Responses
Avatar universal
I have been reading the stories in this thread and am weeping inside. I too had a triple BP and suffer from the after effects. The first couple years I had outbursts which I lashed out at my wife and children. I said horrid things which make my heart ache thinking about.
I am now going into my 9th yr post and things HAVE improved but I am a different man than before the surgery My ability to feel joy has been "damaged" and I constantly live with the fear not of death but of my death leaving my family in a bad place. This fear I discovered with the help of a supportive angel for a wife was causing me to draw back from those I loved lest I die and let them down. This realization was a great help in the ongoing life work of reclaiming my lost self. I realize that  I was literally dead a couple times before the surgery and during it also and it has affected me at the deepest levels.I still have "outbursts" but have become much more aware of their effect on my loved ones and am quick to apologize and regain my composure, something learned in the hurt faces of my loved ones.
In my opinion that this is so common yet ignored by medicine, save to further medicate the patient,it is if not malpractice it is no doubt poor practice.
Again as a "pumphead" my heart goes out to all who must deal with our lowered quality of life due to the procedure which is supposed to give us more to live and live for.I am glad to be alive but I cannot help but miss the much happier man I once was.
Avatar universal
I can'nt beleive what I am reading. My husband had quadrupal bypass surgery five years ago. Our lives have never been the same since. He has lost so much of his memory, mainly of our of our lives , and of the kids growing up.. He does'tn even remember the day our youngest daughter was born. We have been married for 32 years. It is so bad now. I just dont know this person anymore. He says he doesnt know what he wants. I guess our marriage is over, I am devistated and cant believe this wonderful man that I have lived with since Im 29 years old wants to throw me and all he has worked for his whole life under the bus.  He has already cheated, and claims thta over. As far as me, he just don't know how he feels. He caims he does'nt know what he wants. He just comes and goes, doing what ever it is he does. When he is home he is either sleeping or watching TV. He hardly talks to me at all, I dont know how much more I can take, this has been going on for a year now. Please, does anyone have any suggestions. If I go to his doctor, I know he would flip out. Please Help!
Avatar universal
I found this website by surfing the net.I had 4 heart attacks and emergency quad.bipass surgery.In recovery I married the love of my life.and moved to Texas on little $$ and a dream.In 2 short months , I am looking at divorce and the loss of all things worthwhile.There was a comment on this site that one of us seemed to have lost his sense of joy.I am also a recovering alcoholic w/ 7 years sober.When I try to discus or explain what I think or feel I get 2 reactions usually...Quit feeling sorry for yourself, or they get angry at me for feeling that way.I know deep down that there is something wrong.And I can't put my finger on it.I am sad mostly and I lash out to the people I love.And I don't know why..Which in urn akes me more angry or sad.I don't have much money and the job I do is physically taxing.There is a part of me that wants me to die.I love my wife with all my heart...I start therapy this week.The joy of living today seems to be forshadowed with  all the things I thought 5 mins. before my surgery w/a 50% chance of success or failure...haunt me.I feel guilty for living.Angry for surviving.Heartbroken...because my heart....well it's my heart!...Nobody wants a broken heart.....And now my problem is I have one already...and another probably on the way with the loss of my wife.I wished and wanted all these heart issues to just go away.Instead...everything I love with all my heart is going away.Except this broken heart.And nobody it seems wants to hear about it.Especially me.
Avatar universal
My husband had a 4 bypass over 6 years ago.  Afterwards, he became distant, irritable, lost joy in life, forgot how to laugh, did not make eye contact, and the worst, had rages on a daily basis over practically nothing. Plus, everything was my fault, no matter what. His cognitive ability fell, having difficulty following movies, and forgetting a lot. He began to tell lies, misrepresent reality, and generally find something to complain about on a daily basis. His only love became food, much of which he wasn't supposed to eat, and he gained much too much weight. I eat nutritiously, he wasn't interested.  He became the most miserable person I had ever known. He lost all of the sweetness he had before the bypass. He doesn't believe in therapy, so he wouldn't seek any help. He said he feels just fine. Needless to say, my generally cheery nature became sad or scared around him, so I began to avoid him. He also became sloppy in his looks and hygiene, and began to present like a much much older man. What a nightmare. Now he wants to divorce me because he believes that will make him happy. Good luck. I am hurt and I am relieved, since I believed that it would be wrong to divorce him, to abandon him, and I loved him. I kept thinking that somehow it would get better. It didn't. We've been together for 17 years.  All I can say is in the end, we all must take responsibility for our actions, and having a bypass operation is ultimately not a license to be abusive to others and not do what is necessary. We are not your doormats. We have feelings too. Get a grip. You got a second chance at life.  Why blow it?
Avatar universal
My husband had a 4 bypass over 6 years ago.  Afterwards, he became distant, irritable, lost joy in life, forgot how to laugh, did not make eye contact, and the worst, had rages on a daily basis over practically nothing. Plus, everything was my fault, no matter what. His cognitive ability fell, having difficulty following movies, and forgetting a lot. He began to tell lies, misrepresent reality, and generally find something to complain about on a daily basis. His only love became food, much of which he wasn't supposed to eat, and he gained much too much weight. I eat nutritiously, he wasn't interested.  He became the most miserable person I had ever known. He lost all of the sweetness he had before the bypass. He doesn't believe in therapy, so he wouldn't seek any help. He said he feels just fine. Needless to say, my generally cheery nature became sad or scared around him, so I began to avoid him. He also became sloppy in his looks and hygiene, and began to present like a much much older man. What a nightmare. Now he wants to divorce me because he believes that will make him happy. Good luck. I am hurt and I am relieved, since I believed that it would be wrong to divorce him, to abandon him, and I loved him. I kept thinking that somehow it would get better. It didn't. We've been together for 17 years.  All I can say is in the end, we all must take responsibility for our actions, and having a bypass operation is ultimately not a license to be abusive to others and not do what is necessary. We are not your doormats. We have feelings too. Get a grip. You got a second chance at life.  Why blow it?
Avatar universal
What a thread , this thread has me feeling horrible. I just feel terrible for all you wives that are now kind of stuck in bad marriages. These men are depressed no doubt but that doesn't give them the right to treat their spouses like ****. You are there helping them out and in return you get crapped on and treated like you caused the heart attack. Remember you only get one life then your done forever. If the man in your life has changed so severely since having surgery that he is not the same guy anymore you must demand marriage counseling and if he doesn't comply then it's time for you to move on with your life.

Heck I have heart disease and sometimes I am bitter about it but I blame no one else for my own issues and if one day I need a bypass I will reluctantly have it done but still I won't blame others. If I made it out of that hospital alive and able to continue living I would be happy as hell that I may have gotten a 2nd chance at life and to see my loved ones. I know its easy to say now and if by chance I did get mentally affected I would take the Zoloft or whatever I needed to do to feel more like myself. Good luck to all of you and your significant others.
Avatar universal
I am 38 years old.  At 35 I had my first stroke, second stroke, and first heart attack.  In the years that followed I have had over 14 heart caths, 4 stents placed, and quadruple bypass in 2008.   I am also a type II diabetic, but I am resistant to meds, so I am on a pump.  My surgery was almost a year ago, and after my surgery I felt I was fine.  My Doctor even asked me at my first check up if I had had my 'blue day'--not having had it I didn't know what she was talking about.  Well, I think I am having not just my 'blue day' but my 'blue months'.  I am a single mom, so I have no stories of how I took it out on my spouse.  I can say that i myself noticed a difference in me.  I feel like the person that went to s;eep on that operating table never woke up again.  I feel I'm different, but can't figure out exactly how.  I am by no means excusing any of the behavior of these fellow bypassers...but I have actually had to ask my friends to tell me when I go into (what we lovingly call) bypass mode.  Sometimes I am not aware of when I'm not acting 'normal'.  

To Diane650---we have gotten a second chance, and although I really can't speak for everyone who has had bypass, I can say for me it has nothing to do with blowing it-on purpose that is.  I still don't know the person I have become--she seems so different and there are times that I don't know how to handle it.  You are not doormats--I 100% totally agree--I am just trying to give the side of the bypasser since most of these I have read seem to be in denial that they have changed in any way (except you, pusher!)

I guess I said all of this to say that....maybe they aren't aware of what's going on (at least I hope not!!), and just how much their behavior is hurting others.  I pray that communication is opened up, and maybe their can be a 'code' to make them (the bypasser) see what they're doing.
995271 tn?1463927859
Story from the other side of the fence.

I just recently dealt with depression not due to bypass but to arrhythmia problems.  For about 9 months my wife was telling me I was too irritable.  We'd blame stress, and I would tell her she's creating more stress for me by bringing it up.  She also expressed concern about "walking on egg shells" around me.

My Doc and I finally took some steps.  Mind you, I did not feel depressed but everyone close to me was telling me I was.  I didn't believe them.

I went on an SSRI and on the 3rd week people at work were telling me I seemed happier and a lot less irritable.  My wife says I'm back to the guy she remembers before the heart issues.  I really didn't know.

Now that some of this fog has lifted, I realize just how much of a red flag her comment was about the egg shells.  Wow, that's not good at all.

The SSRI helped a lot, and made me realize just how depressed I was.  I love not having that irritability and being mean to my kids anymore.  That's not the dad I want them to remember.

SSRIs aren't everyone though.  I still have some long term concerns about this approach, I will cross that bridge when I get there...
Avatar universal
I found this thread while doing research for a friend who's husband of many years continues to exhibit extreme personality changes 6 years after bypass surgery.  I am going to refer her here.  It will help her to know she is not the crazy one!

I continued researching and found two VERY good articles about the possible cause of this problem.  Yes, the medical community knows the cause, but does nothing to warn about or prepare people for this issue.  I hope this helps!

Interestingly, Bill Clinton started exhibiting these symptoms after his bypass surgery.  Read about it here:



Two articles are by Dr. McDougall, who is VERY well researched, and a straight shooter.  I have read his work since the early '80's.

Best wishes to all who are dealing with this.  I think it will help to know that the cause is either depression or "pump head" which cause damage to the brain during the surgery.

Avatar universal
Famous novelist Larry McMurtry, in his excellent autobiographical sketch, "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen", discusses the profound emotional and mental effects of bypass surgery on him.

The bulk of his tale begins on page 140 in the hardback edition:

"Perhaps one reason I have become increasingly fascinated by history is because I feel I have had two histories---or, put another way, because two individuals bearing my name have had sequential but largely separate histories.
I was one person up until the morning of December 2, 1991, at which date I had quadruple-bypass surgery at the Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. When I woke up from the operation, after about twelve hours in deep anesthesia, I began -- although I didn't realize it immediately -- my life as a different person -- my life as someone else."

"From being a living person with a distinct personality I began to feel more or less like an outline of that person—and then even the outline began to fade, erased by what had happened inside. I felt as if I was vanishing—or more accurately, had vanished…I became, to myself, more and more like a ghost, or a shadow. What I more and more felt, as the trauma deepened, was that while my body survived, the self that I had once been had lost its life…the sense of grief for the lost self was profound. I didn’t feel like my old self at all, and had no idea where the old self had gone…I felt spectral—the personality that had been mine for fifty-five years was simply no longer there."
Avatar universal
Here's ur ans that everyone is looking
For its called pump head a duke univ
Study says that doctors don't
Like to talk about this to the public
But up to 42 percent of bypass patients
Have significant cognative changes
After surgery due to blood be pumped
Through the body for 4 to 6 hours during the procedure that pump if
Not cleaned properly can spread tiny
Particles into the blood that go into
The brain and cause permanent damage
I'm trying to make pump head aware
To more people so they no the risk
Avatar universal
My sister had bypass surgery done about two months ago. My heart broke in half because she's not only my sister, she my best friend.
To make a long story short, she changed. She's become very short tempered. I love her very much, but it's so difficult to talk to her now. I've decided to pray for her and her family. After reading all these entries, I now understand that I am not alone. It has affected her family and I don't think she has a clue as to how the hurtful words she say's cut so deep. God bless her and everyone else out there who is going through the same difficult experience.. I'm afraid to tell her about her change. For fear that she will lash out at me. However, the sympathy I feel for my brother in law and niece and nephew, gives me no choice but to talk to her about this. Thank you for creating this comment page, it has been very healing.
Avatar universal
In my family, I'm the one with the heart problems.  I'm not cranky but I am fearful, and I think people often use anger to cover fear.  At any rate, I found a good book called "Back to Life after a Heart Crisis," by Marc Wallack, M.D., and Jamie Colby, a doctor who had bypass surgery and his wife. It covers a lot about what's been discussed in this thread.

I also have only one sister.  My heart goes out to you.

And thank you, Mr. McMurtry.  What an apt descripton.
Avatar universal
Thank you everyone for posting your private stories.  I thought I was the only one going through this misery.  My husband had surgery only 5 weeks ago and has created so much chaos in my family that I am talking to a divorce attorney.  He constantly tells family members that I am not taking care of him properly and that I just want him to die!  When we are alone, he cusses and yells at me and I end every evening crying because apparently all his health issues and any problems are my fault.  I had never heard him use profanity in 13 years of marriage and now he yells profanities and calls me names during his tirades.  This is not the man I married and don't think I can be abused any longer.  I've become afraid of this volatile man and can't believe this is happening.  
Avatar universal
Cher2, take a deep breath and try to relax (I know it's hard).  If your husband only had surgery five weeks ago, he is still going through a lot of physical and emotional changes and recovery issues, and it does not necessairly mean that these changes are permanent.  Also, please remember that the stories posted in this forum represent a handful of people posting their bad experiences post-surgery; it is not a place you are going to find upbeat and encouraging stories.  Don't assume the above stores represent something that is going to happen to everyone.

I have been reading this forum for two years because I could relate to the stories; my husband had a six-way five years ago and is still going through emotional issues - but I have not lost hope.  You shouldn't either.

I'd make an appointment with your husbands cardiologist or surgeon and both of you go in and ask them pointedly and specificially about the issues that occur during the surgery and the effects of the bypass machine itself.  There are a number of physical things that occur during the process that affect the brain (inlcuding, in some cases, small clots being thrown that essentially cause small strokes).  While not desirable, this is all "normal" fallout from the procedure and will improve and correct themselves with time.  It takes a couple of months - five weeks is not long enough for him to have recovered physically or emotionally from the surgery and it's effects.

Keep in mind that right now your husband probably feels fragile, and that is a difficult emotion for men to accept.  He needs support, but not coddling.  Don't try to protect him from everything.  If your medical facility offers a Cardiac Rehab program, by ALL MEANS go to it, it will help tremendously and you will both benefit from being around others who are also recovering and having the same issues.  My husband did not have this opportunity and I think it would have made all the difference in the world.

Also - take time to take care of yourself.  That is essential.  You have BOTH been through a stressful and traumatic experience; don't minimalize its impact on you just because you aren't the one with the scar on your chest.  Emotional recovery from heart surgery is a marathon, not a sprint, for BOTH of you, and you need to find a way to do it together.

Best of luck to you - If you want to post back I will answer.
565879 tn?1236134597
My husband's bypass surgery was two years ago this week and only now am I realizing the changes in his personality. I can give you hundreds of examples but can't tell you exactly what it is.  Our financial lives are in ruins, and he's disconnected from our personal lives. Through it all, I became lulled into a sort of day to day complacency. Now, when I bring things up to him, he tells me I'm crazy, but I know in my heart that we are dealing with some real issues.  Thanks for your posts.  
Avatar universal
Thanks for your posts. I know I am not alone as my husband is moving out after 30 years together and a week after our anniversary. We have an age gap of 13 years we have been together since I was 19. and we have 2 great grown kids. He seems heartless, and we have talked, it's as if his soul connection to me and family is gone.

He says he won't live as long as me any way and I can be free to live my next 50 years as I please. It is very painful to hear this all to often and then we talk as if just friends, as I don't even think he knows how long 30 years together is in my heart, so he feels pleased that I talk to him, and it is like talking to a big child at age 62. It's about the only time he smiles like he was dropped off from the hospital into the wrong house or something.

The hurtful words are endless. He is also running away from all the plans we had of paying off our mortgage, organizing our homes and many financial responsibilities. His theory is he'll pay for everything and hire people to do work around the house as long as he is free to do what he wants.

Reality will be I am almost being forced to selling our own home, that we bought to retire in, raise grandkids of the future etc, as I can not financially manage alone. He does not see that it breaks my heart and is actually ruining the future for his own family. Because of his age, since his operation he can barely get insurance. either way we all have massive changes.

I am holding him to his words about moving out, as I have talked to him endlessly and he won't go to his dr, get counselling, he forget's to take his one pill, an antidepressant, he is back smoking and drinking.

I feel, and talk to him as a best friend, which he used to be, and honestly I know he has to move, so hopefully he reallizes in no time that he needs help, and that's the best help I can give him. It's been 1.5 years since his quadruple bypass, then he had a knee operation 6 months later. He is totally emotionless, we just went to a funeral and no tears, not even at his mother and father's grave site, that he used to cry at before the operation..

I have cried enough, and all of our family knows his plans. I pray he really does change his life. I do not think he will ever be the same, as when he sits beside me he treats me like a stranger, he avoids any contact if possible and I feel so in his way and visa versa. Everything we ever shared seems non existent, as if I am pulling his leg about our times together and yes, I am tired of begging for attention. He only seems aggravated by my presence. Very heart breaking. denial seems huge about many things. And I sense he has a lot of fear, known and unknown.

I will keep trying to help him, but I will not let him bring me down, I am strong and have never been ill in my life. I can not have him bring me emotionally down any more as I love him, my kids and my families and I need to start somewhere, as this is too painful to watch and family has now seen what I am living with. He seems so lost and impatient.

Good luck to everyone in this difficult situation . . . some people die having this operation and I enjoy the good times on his terms, but that's not living as we used to, he has other plans.
565879 tn?1236134597
Thank you for your well written post. I appreciate being able to read your words because they've totally escaped me while trying to describe this nightmare to someone else. Your post is written with love and the experience only those of us living through this will understand.
The hardest thing for me is trying to talk to him and expecting my old husband to respond.  It hurts like hell to get an unfeeling response from someone I don't know.
As I write this, I'm sitting at home with a pile of unpaid utility bills. My husband is out in the Glacier Nat'l Forest, touring his way to Portland and San Fran on his bike. He still calls nightly and will be back in 'a couple of weeks'.
I love him dearly and would no sooner turn my back on him than I would on one of my own children. But I'm not stupid either and understand that I can't fix things unless we both want them fixed .  
Avatar universal
Dear Misty4me,

I so feel your pain and the pain that so many people are going through. I am not sleeping, eating well - all because I feel I have now a bigger responsibility in life than ever before, yet knowingly in my heart I need to let go, as he's not the same man any more, and I am not feeling well worrying about him.

No matter how much counseling! I can see it in his eyes. He’s unknowingly scared and frantic and now on his own, yet supporting our home and me! My thought that keeps me thinking is: We are given what I can deal with, and I am trying to deal with this.

We went to marriage counseling last Friday, after he moved out - as now that agreeing to support his every whim, as you are to yours too, well, in what he wants ONLY, family and spouses stand by and hope and keep supporting us both.

I think the best thing that I got out of the 1.5 hr counseling, while staring at my husband of 30 yrs was: How can we be a family in the future with our kids, grandkids to be, and great families we already have that (I) we, still recognize and remember with heart and soul.  

The counselor and now I are finding out that there was no post op support, in our situation. My husband was, WAS, just so happy to be alive - and now he's making that known, 15 months later.

GET rid of family, clear a path, I am seeing that lots of post open heart patients seem to want to squish everything into a day and we as the caring partners, loved ones, family seem to drive them nuts with memories of their pasts and what they thought they could and could not do, no matter how much loving support!

In fact, (This keeps me calm) we were so complimentary, along the long path together that our support made our loved ones FEEL secure enough that they CAN take off, as if they finally heard what we were talking about all those years! They just forgot that when we talked, planned for our futures, we said WE not just YOU (them). So . . . I am not crying today, I've gone from crying every 2 days to 3 to 4 . . . in 2 weeks.

Misty4me, I think that those of us that WILL get through this with our spouses or family that fly off for a while knowing we're watching their backs, We WILL:

(1. Be happier when they return, as my hubby keeps saying!
(2. Most likely be separated/single and living differently!
(3. Always be their BEST FRIEND forever, as only a few people will ever know who they really were, and that's a bond that keeps all our HEARTS together, no matter what.

I, like you, am suffering more than my hubby will ever know, and that's when I cry and write. Whose fault is it that our health system can save our loved one's lives? And I am guessing, we're the lucky ones that our loved ones feel - OK feel enough to run with it. . and grab what they think is a new life.

I would like to encourage more survivors to tell their side of their story. Not too many posted here. I believe there's a lot of loss of heart ache out there, yet I hope you all are finding a way through this, as we are trying to help the best we can.

I think, we all come back to the happy days we had prior to knowing anyone but ourselves, and that's the next phase for my hubby and I. I will, like you, find a happy way through this and we will all be happy at the end.

I do believe that all patients/family support that try to help a post op open-heart patient/heart disease patient have experienced not knowing what the bleep is happening.

Knowing there's support out there helps me know I am not really alone.

PS: I tend to think from the position of the surgeon and hospital staff as well. I think about how it would feel for them to operate and save someone's life, and that person NEVER changes their ways!
LIFE goes on, and this can only lead to making everyone you know

"Feel happier sooner than later" - Quote from hubby of 30 yrs who left home, and me 15 months after quad bypass.
Avatar universal
I am so glad I came across this web page. I was thinking that I was alone also with this. My husband went in for triple bypass surgery after his heart attack. During the surgery the doctors ended up having to do 2 more bypasses. So that was 5 altogether. When my husband woke up the next day and saw me coming in his room he immediately looked at me with anger in his eyes. I tried to do everything I could to make him happy with me again. His anxiety was so intense he wouldn't even stay in the hospital the amount of time his doctors wanted him to. We had been married for 11 years, but now I can't  do anything without complaints from him. He said he doesn't love me anymore and that he wants out of this marriage. Needless to say, his behavior did turn violent. He attacked my daughter one day and started repeatedly punching her in her face. My niece and I kept beating on him  until we finally got him away from my daughter. He looked at us and asked us why we were hitting him. I felt like I was in a horror movie. The police took him away and I keep up with the protection orders. This happend 2 months ago in September. Even when I talk to him on the phone when he sometimes call, he seems like a totally different person. It's like I never knew him at all. His voice sounds like him, but now he is so different that I don't know who he is when I talk to him. I'm just afraid of him and don't trust anything he says.  
329165 tn?1515475590
I had open-heart surgery in 2008.  I can tell you that "pumphead" does exist!  my alias describes me:  Smiley.  I have always been smiling and happy and positive and at some stage after my heart surgery I just felt very sad for no reason.  Cried when I listened to music!  Started questioning everything in my life.  I then decided that it must be my husband that makes me sad and that I want a new one :) joking aside:  I took all my frustrations out on him and blamed him for everything and blamed him for my sadness.

Eventually we ended up seeing a Marriage Councellor and I had to complete a form and was very honest on it and then the Councellor said:  you have major depression due to the open-heart surgery you hade.  I started taking Cipralex (a Sirotonine booster SSRI) and soon I could feel the difference.

My story ended well.  We are still together, happily married and he stood by me through the tough times.  I prayed a lot and have always had a close relationship with God and I believe that He helped us by sending us to the Marriage Councellor.

I am now 3 years post-op and I still rely on my happy meds.  But I am doing great :)
Avatar universal
Just want to let you all know, as you've seen from responses, that this irratibility and ugly attitude seems to be a symptom or perhaps an excuse.  What ever it is, I agree with not being abused and right now, 2 weeks after his surgery, I decided I will do all I can to get him thru this time and then leave him if things don't change. Continues to drink, wants to eat red meat, etc. Triple bypass apparently didn't affect him and I'm tired of being the food and drink police.  
Avatar universal
Again, this is a wonderful forum.  My husband backed into heart surgery starting only with a funny feeling in his chest.... No heart attack.  March 3rd, 2011, that all changed when the surgeon came out and said he had done EIGHT bypasses in the past two hours and my husband was doing well...
So we were all shocked but my husband recovered well and retired the end of April, on schedule.  We went to Europe for a month as previously planned and returned home to help our only daughter get married in mid-September.  He really didn't have time to be depressed until October.  But then the changes started..... He didn't return emails or even read them.  All his plans for his retirement didn't seem to exist anymore.  But he doesn't believe in taking antidepressants... And it must be more of our marital problems.

We have been married 26 years now, both of us are retreads and we each came into the marriage with two children.  His male twins are 39 and neither are married nor date.  My 32 year old son doesn't date yet... My daughter is now married at 32.  My husband is 11 years older than me and is 69 right now.  Our marriage was based on love and taking care of our children.  He is an academic, very cerebral, which meant that I have done all the paperwork, taxes, money stuff, organization and coordination.  I have been unhappy in the past when he just wouldn't  help with simple things like cutting the lawn or taking out the trash but it was easier to do it myself....

And he has been abusive in the past.  He kicked his father across the room as a twenty year old.  He has smacked mirros and broken them, kicked in the side of the stove.... And a few years ago He started pushing me around.  I insisted he go to abuse conselling.  He did but he ended up thinking he wasn't abusive like the other guys since he didn't hit me or stab me.

But he is also a hoarder.  He has hundreds of boxes of paper and thousands of books.  When he had his sudden operation, work was happy to box up all his papers and put them in storage.  They hadn't been able to clean the office or paint/recarpet for 20 years.  They boxed up 120 boxes of xerox copies and discarded books and now we have to pay $160 per month to house the paperwork.  Our basement is also full to the ceiling with boxes and books.

When he turned 65 we started remodeling our home.  First the kitchen and then the first floor.  He doesn't do this but always complains that it takes so long.  The end result is great but I always feel that his Mess is about to envelope us if I am not vigilant about cleaning up.

So I have set the scene.  We were about to leave for a month-long trip out of the U.S. and he was busy pushing more and more into the storage unit.   Nothing was thrown out.  He bought more and more boxes and filled them.

There was one small pile of large plastic containers which I had been keeping in the basement.  They fell over and he "put them away.".   I asked him for them, he found them in the garage where he stuffed them and I made the mistake of throwing them away by placing them in our large garbage bin and I did this in front of him.

He placed his hands around my neck and started squeezing them together.  I just stood there's.  Instinct told me not to fight back.  It was in broad daylight and in our driveway in full view of the neighbors.  He finally stopped and I asked him what he thought he was doing??  I walked away and told my son what had just happened.... He was standing down the street having a smoke.
I called my sister and her first comment was, "What have you done to make him do this?".  I emailed our doctor and our MSW about it.  My husband had one emergency session before we left on our trip.... And our MD said we should go on the trip and deal with it when we get back.

I don't want to be an abuse statistic.  I have never cheated on my husband and I have stood by him through lots and lots of problems.  I have loved him and everyone thinks he is a lovely man, very proper and very considerate.

I don't want to be an abuse statistic.  I am applying to go into the Peace Corps this next year and I am hoping that two years away will allow him to find his feet again since it is clear that I cannot help him.  He cannot be perfect if there is no one else there to compare himself to.  He can always be right too and he can keep everything and make piles and piles of stuff everywhere in the house if it makes him happy.

Am I the only one able to say that part of me wishes that he had died on the operating table?  It is a terrible thought.  I am heartsick.  Signed, Ihavetried so hard
Avatar universal
My Dear Gin650!
What a dreadful story and situation you're living in!  Why?  You do not deserve such treatment.  Look at what it has taken from you?  Is it worth it to you?  Where is your line in the sand?  For yourself and for your own well being..  Being so abused for so many years is just not acceptable for good health or good feelings.  You deserve both.  And you deserve the opportunity to recover from this nightmare and find your happy self once again.  With or without hubby.  After so many years of marriage, I would daresay that you would get a reasonable shake in divorce court...perhaps with alimony as well. Just because you haven't worked, doesn't mean you can't start. At least part time.  Get out of that shuttered, phone off the hook, unhealthy, demeaning house and have some normal interactions with other people, at least for a few hours each day and/or several days/week.
Any divorce lawyer worth his salt is going to help you out of this critical situation you're living in.  If that's what you want.  
I'd prefer to start entirely on my own, with few to no resources in place, as opposed to living in the daily mental anguish and suffering you've described here.  You DESERVE better.  Our spouse's health, mental OR physical, shouldn't degrade or damage us this way. If someone is, say, schizophrenic or psychotic, they take medicines and go to counseling and if that doesn't work, they go into a mental health facility to live, until such time that they can function well in society...or into a supervised living environment.  That your husband is so out of touch as not to even realize he has problems, then, at some point, your responsibility must turn to helping yourself.  Your emotional state has to be seriously tapped.  Do something for YOURSELF, since he resists your efforts to help HIM.
An observation:  In reading these posts here, why are most all of them from abused/suffering women?  Is this personality change thing just something which overcomes men?  How many women become monsters after heart surgery?  Any thoughts, anyone?

I'm 58 and had a quad bypass, 4 years ago.  I am female, btw.  Was never cranky, rude or mean to the people who love me and cared for me so well, during recovery.  I would rather have flung myself off the Golden Gate, than turn any of my frustrations onto my loved ones.  Does bypass surgery, for men, perhaps mess with their testosterone levels so badly that they revert to their most base instincts or something? Does it rob them of their humanity or what?   Can't hurt to have these mens hormone levels tested...if they are out of control with no accounting for it on any other front.  
We must always, first and foremost, help ourselves.  
You have been through such hell, Gin650.  At least do yourself the favor of getting counseling for yourself.  If you wish to remain in love with someone your husband "used to be", and/or feel committed to someone who no longer exists, then you are selling yourself short.  Loving and caring for someone should never, EVER do this kind of damage.  "In sickness and in health" is one thing.  In ABUSE, is entirely another.  No matter what's causing it.  
Avatar universal
I had a quadruple by-pass about 3 years ago and for the six months to a year I had the most wonderful recovery. As soon as the stress of work gradually came back into my life, I started getting severe anxiety attacks to such an extend that I could not sleep at night as I had the fear of another heart attack. I was referred to a doctor specialising in these type of things and were prescribed a tablet to take once a day. Initially it worked but eventually the dose had to be increased from 10mg to 20 mg. Since then I had one attack after reducing my dose by half. As a rule I drink two beers a day or two whiskeys and on special occasions I may enjoy a few more.

I think there is a large difference in getting a by-pass as a male with a family relying on your income. The stress to produce, the fear of another heart problem and the fear not being able to provide for your family is a pretty serious reality if you are 46 like I was at the time of my bypass. I must also mention that if it wasn't for my wife's solid support all the way it would have been much worse. Oh and it seems as if some people only read specific mails.... There is a lady taking Cipralex of which I take the alternative called Lexamil. Im feeling great and she is feeling great. If people dont want to go for help it is unfortunate. Be happy if you did not go though those stages after a by-pass rather than be critical of the 1000's that actually do experience it, and believe me, a lot, male and female goes through this anxiety issue.
I do feel sorry for those ladies that suffer under these circumstances, but I tell you, if you have a wonderful wife who supports you it makes a world of difference on how you manage to handle things..... not pointing fingers, just saying. Instead of sitting cramped up I started working in the garden every day, between 5 and 6 I sit under a tree in the garden and listen to the grass grow..... Ihavetriedsohard , I can see that you are in a difficult situation there..... cant be nice and as I said, there is help with a tiny tablet once a day and it really just restores the balance in the brain, nothing more.....

Best of luck

PS No, during all of this I have never been abusive to my wife. I think it might depend on the personality in handling traumatic stress situations. A Bypass is a major shock to the system  
Avatar universal
Hi Emmy. Heard the same. My surgeon told me before hand that there is always the possibility of a stroke during these operations specifically because of that reason. Another reason that i can also believe is that with the clamping of the arteries little particles are loosened that are stuck on the inside of the arteries. This can apparently also cause a stroke. Other thing i heard and actually believes is that the person that had a bypass experience mini strokes for the rest of his life without really realising it. It may even feel if you loose consciousness for a fraction of a second while walking down the street. I also believe from what I heard that memory goes quicker with bypass patient.... dunno if that is true because when my dad passed away under his second bypass op, he was perfect brain wise.
Avatar universal
Hi There.
My husband had a tripple bypass at the beginning of December 2009. Our marraige has ever since, not been the same. He was a kind, soft hearted person. very loving, caring, the type of man every woman wants to marry. In general we had a good life and still do. But boy, the moods and blameshifting is really getting to me. In July 2012 we will be married for 9 years. We had never argued this much. he is blaming me for allmost everything. Love the wine and are forever eating. He has a total change in his personality. I read that youre father had both his carotid arterys replaced. what symptoms did he experience? My husband is complaining of pain in the right carotid artery. The children get their share of verbal abuse. There is no way that I can just walk away, although it might be the easy way out.
976897 tn?1379171202
I had triple bypass surgery in 2007 and for months I felt different and responded to everyone around me differently. It's the way you suddenly see life, like you have been given a warning that your body is very fragile and you are going to die in a short period of time. My Wife came with me to see my cardiologist for a routine checkup, and when he asked if everything was ok, she jumped in and said "no it isn't". She explained the situation and my Cardiologist turned to me and said "look, I'm going to give it to you blunt and straight. Yes you've had a heart attack and yes you've had bypass surgery. If we go back 50 years, you would be dead now. However, your heart muscle is in good shape, output is at the high end of normal. You are at higher risk for heart attack, but not as high as it could be thanks to medication. You do realise that even I could have a heart attack before you, and there is every chance that you may never have another one. It is far more likely that you will slowly form more blockages, but as your symptoms increase, we can deal with those. IF, and it's a big IF, you get to a stage where we can't do any more, then there is always transplant. However, research is accelerating and new tools for angioplasty are developing all the time. Now comes the blunt part. We are all born with one problem, everyone is. That problem is that we will die one day. Nobody can avoid that, not even the best Doctors. What's important is how we live our lives and to spend the rest of your life in fear and self pity will not only shorten it, but ruin any quality. Even your spouse is going to die one day, so really we are all in the same boat, and nobody knows when that day will come. So your wife, children and friends, facing the very same outcome, really don't deserve to be treated in a disrespectful way. In reality they need you and they need you to need them. Don't feel useless, for decades you've supported them, so what's wrong with them getting the chance to show their love and return the favour for a while in helping you. All I can say is that you need to look at life as a good thing, not just a queue for death. Live each day to get good memories and to be blunt again, snap out of it".

I wrote this down as soon as I got home and read it a few times, it's still on my PC. He sure was blunt, but it got the message home. I remember looking at every person on the journey home, thinking, he's right, all these people and nobody knows when their time is up. Most don't even know if they have bad arteries or not. So I'm far from alone. I think the human mind needs to have everything in little boxes, we like things in perspective too. We hate the not knowing and it scares us. For days I just kept telling myself "yes you will die one day, everyone does, but what the heck. Just enjoy each day and make what time you have left worth it. Don't go to your grave as the miserable nasty father, but rather the loving and understanding one. If you live another day, fine, if you live another 30-40 years, even better but just remember nobody knows".
Once I accepted that, I was fine and it only took about a week. I just needed a good shake and to be able to see things in perspective. Realising it isn't the end made all the difference.
565879 tn?1236134597
How did you find your marriage counselor? Meaning like did you grab the Yellow Pages and point one out? My husband's surgery was Aug 2009. He eagerly agreed to visit a counselor - so out of character for him - but I'm the one that may not be able to hold on.  There's been so much heart ache the past couple of years. I thought I'd been taking care of him . . . Heart ache.
565879 tn?1236134597
That look after surgery says it all, doesn't it? I still can't get it out of my head.  Our situation isn't as severe as yours, but it's like a vague Jekyll/Hyde . . . and I'm trying to apply our old standards to a new relationship - one I wouldn't have chosen.
Avatar universal
My dad had 6 heart bypasses then a month and a half later he had two more stints put in. He had a temper before but after his surgery he has turned in to a complete *******.  He calls me names & yells at everything.  My mom & I can't stand even talking to him anymore because everything we say apparently pisses him off. My cousin who is also a male had heart surgery as well & his wife said she almost left him because of it.  He's not "rude" anymore so I'm hoping this passes soon. I think with all the stress my dad wont make it to see me even 25. I'm 19 now.  :/
329165 tn?1515475590
Hi there, Minax

I had open heart surgery 4 years ago to repair a diseased mitral-valve.  The depression and personality changes that patients have post-op is due to the lung-bypass-machine as they flatline your brain to work with a heart that is not pumping!  you can read up on it:  pump head" syndrome and just put yourself in his situation:  OHS is life-changing surgery and it is very hard getting through it and some people become aggressive because they feel they have lost control over the bodies and health and feel hopeless and depressed and really need anti-depressions and a lot of TLC from friends and family.

It does not give anyone the excuse to swear and yell and be rude, but it is because of the untreated depression and anger that the patient is doing it and he actually just need someone Professional to talk to him (Pshyciatrist) and get medication for it.
976897 tn?1379171202
976897 tn?1379171202
I agree totally that in many patients something goes on. After my bypass surgery, I was very weepy for a couple of weeks and then it passed. There is so much that is yet not understood about the body and mind. Scientists and Doctors always form two camps until things are understood. I know it's off topic, but I've been studying near death experiences for a couple of years now and it's amazing stuff to look into. Scientists believed that the bright lights, flashbacks of our lives etc were just chemical reactions, because it can be reproduced in many cases by denying the brain it's normal oxygen level. However, in many near death experiences,the brain is flat line, so it cannot produce anything. Even more amazing is how people blind from birth report seeing for the first time. Unable to name colours, they just refer to them as different intensities. The mind seems very much to be a separate entity to the brain, or should I say our consciousness. Perhaps major surgery upsets this balance somehow. Much to learn and I wonder if we will ever know all the answers.
Avatar universal
My 89 yr old mother had valve replacement and double bypass surgery in May of this year.  2 hours after surgery, she had cardiac shock and almost died.  We were told by the doctors that night that she probably wouldn't make it.  Miraculously, she did.  It has been a long hard road to recovery and up until last week, I have been her primary carer.  As her youngest daughter, I have loved taking care of her and took so much personal joy in seeing her improvement every week.  I showered her with my attention, care and love.  However, she has now turned on me.  she has been giving my father a lot of grief since before she left hospital and it has become more difficult to see the hurtful things she has said to him over the past few months.  Last week, she said some very hurtful things to me, when I visited.  I left, very upset, telling her beforehand that she was a wicked, ungrateful woman.  I don't regret saying it as I really feel it is true.  She has always been very fiery and aggressive, but has become worse since surgery.  I am very upset about the whole thing.  I haven't spoken with her in over a week.  I speak with my dad every day and the only good thing here is that she hasnt been verbally abusing him since our incident.  I miss her dreadfully and I am so worried about her, but I felt unwanted and Completely rejected by her.  What should I do?  Should I talk to her GP?
976897 tn?1379171202
I think the best thing would be to go humble, go visit her and see if she has changed towards you. If you see no difference and you can't reason with her, then I would perhaps discuss it with her GP, but if she finds out you've seen her GP behind her back, it may cause her to become more hostile. It's only 3-4 months since her surgery, which was very traumatic, let alone the cardiac problems post surgery. It affects people both emotionally and physically. It took me 12 months to get over the problems and heal fully. You really can't explain how it feels in your head, it's like you stare at the possibility of death every minute of every day. You suddenly realise just how fragile the body can really be. Fear is a strong emotion. I found a huge help was cardiac rehab, where lots of small positive comments were fed back to the patients. Instead of thinking death all the time, we would suddenly start seeing things in true perspective, it doesn't mean that you will die in the next 24hours. Many won't admit that fear, but it's definitely in there. You don't believe anyone understands because they haven't experienced it, and feel alone, even though they are showing they care. It can really screw your mind up. I remember when they took me to theatre for my surgery, I was so terrified that I came very close to just running away several times. The thought of having your chest opened is the stuff of nightmares. So I would urge you to put up with her abuse, it happens but will improve over time. When I was abusive to my Wife, she cuddled me and I felt guilty and even cried sometimes. It was a good vent for my emotions and showed how much she cared. You don't know how to deal with all those strong emotions and anger/frustration seems to top the bill in many cases. This leads to abuse and everything which goes with it. I'm sure inside she doesn't want to lose such a loving/caring daughter on top of all her other problems. I can say from experience that the bad things I said were not meant, they seem convincing to the third party, but it's a release and you always take it out on the ones you love the most.
Avatar universal
Thank you ed34..  I very much appreciate the time you took to reply and I must admit your message brought tears to my eyes..  I will go visit her early this week and try to speak with her.  You are lucky that your wife was as understanding as she was and she is lucky too, to have such an obviously warm and caring husband.  Take care of yourself. :)
Avatar universal
Maybe instead of making the it all about and your feelings you should step outside yourself and take care of his first. He needs, probably for the first time sinse you have known him he needs a kind of help that it sounds like you cant give because you cant put aside yourself. Its hard to be selfless and put some one completely before you and to do whats right by them and not what you think is right for them. Instead of being selfish by getting upset, mad, or affraid at hohw he is acting humble yourself and realize this man just went through the most tramatizing thing to body and mind a doctor can legally do and he needs your support and help and most of all selfless understanding. He is changed, affraid, insecure and confused and you can either help him and pull him back to who he was or hurt him and make him worse than he is. Which ever you choose for him its forever. You can walk away and leave him but what you do now will affect him until the day he dies. Sorry to get so real on you but Ive been on both sides and right now you have all the power wether it feels like that or not. Good luck, I hope you make the right choice
Avatar universal
My husband had  a bypass in 09.He's emotionally like a "monster." Nasty, abusive, irritable, angry, goes "off" at any/everything.  Before the surgery, he would go "off" maybe once/6months, now it's nearly daily. They save their lives and we live w/ the consequences. If I had known, I would have left right away, honestly speaking. I've endured nothing but abuse from this monster.
976897 tn?1379171202
The biggest problem is coming to terms with it (the patient I mean). It is hard, especially for a man, suddenly realizing you are not a super strong masculine type, but are fragile. It's a sudden realization of how we must look after this flesh machine we live inside. After my bypass I was sent to cardiac rehab, and the first 2-3 sessions, my partner had to come with me and we were asked to put our cards on the table each time, to explain how we feel in front of each other. The results were very good and opened our eyes.
Avatar universal
As ed34 said, a little counseling after the surgery can go a long way towards help with the emotional problems that often develop between couples when a life-threatening illness occurs.

In addition, when bypass surgery has been done, it is pretty common for the patient to experience what appears to be problems with thinking.  It is called "pump head," and you can google it.  Your husband may be suffering from this, as well as from the fear Ed describes.

However, that does not mean that your job is to put up with abuse.  If I were in your difficult position, I would in fact speak privately to my husband's doctor about this.  Chances are the doc has seen it before and would have some ideas about how to cope.

I would ALSO go alone to see a marriage and family counselor for advice about the situation.  Our own counsleor teaches wonderful techniques for dealing with stressful relationships.  This can help enormously, even if the spouse will not go to therapy.
329165 tn?1515475590
I agree whole-heartedly with you (pun intended).  I had OHS and personality changes - did not get aggressive or abusive, but very sad for no apparent reason and changed from being this happy-go-lucky-smiley person into someone that questioned anything and everything about life and challenged everyone and find purpose for just being alive!

Turned out I had major depression and did not know anything about pump head syndrome, until I went to seek the help of a marriage counsellor and was diagnosed and treated with anti-depros.

Now I am Smiley again :)
Avatar universal
I appreciate your advice regarding pump head which I have read, and find it a relief to have an explanation as to my post operation for triple heart bypass exactly one year ago.

I was having uncontroable frightening feelings that came frequently.My GP said it wasn't depression and that I should not worry about it, I did try to question if it was to do with my operation as I guessed it may be.

It has eased my mind upon reading up on google.

I wrote a reply before I signed up to this forum so apologies if you recieve this reply twice.

329165 tn?1515475590
Your GP is an idiot for saying you don't need to worry about it!  

As someone who has gone through OHS twice and having gone through some other major health issues, I can advice you to seek Counselling - even if the Counsellor says you don't have depression, you can get relaxation techniques to help you deal with anxiety.

Please keep us updated :)
Avatar universal
I would be interested to hear more about relaxation techniques to deal with the anxiety when it occurs.

I prefer to be able to do it at home.

Avatar universal
We have other issues on top of the bypass, too, exacerbated after his heart attack. So, I'm dealing with all of those problems plus his health. We've made 2 major moves since all of it began, too, so that adds to stress levels. Financial issues, no support system, old family issues, you name it. I know one thing--no more marriages! I can't imagine going through this w/ another person.
Avatar universal
Thanks Ed for sharing this with us. Inspiring and much needed. I had a 6 way and have growing fear about each day-til I read this. Thank you so much!
Avatar universal
I understand everybody. My heart is thoroughly broken. My beautiful boy, who was gentle and so very gifted, belongs to mensa, had quintuple bypass at 34 last year over Christmas. I got a different child back. I am the worst thing in his life. I taught my children values and gentleness. He now lays about, has zero ambition but I am the worst thing in his life. Suddenly my heart beats fast when I see him because I KNOW he will scold me. I am totally in shock. This is not happening to me. I don't know this person at all. He has forgotten things that were pertinent in our lives. He was around 8 hours on heart-lung machine. I have given up all hope.
329165 tn?1515475590
Hi there,

Depression and anxiety can change a person totally!  I think you need to talk to your son and convince him to see a Psychologist.

Also read up on Pump head syndrome.

All the best and please let me know how you are doing.
Avatar universal
I do not have an answer to your question. I have been married for 32 years and my husband has suffered two heart attacks. One that required a stent and one double by pass. I also suffered a heart attack that required a stent and one year before that I had a concussion. I was very sick during that time. Once I got better I realized he has been sexting. He has moved out of our bedroom into our guest room and sexts all night. He has just bought a new laptop to in order to enjoy his porn. He has had ED for 8 years. He is constantly angry and blames me for everything. He has put a wedge between me and our youngest daughter. He wants our home sold and promises to stop sexting if I do this. When I ask him what he needs, he says too little, too late, but, wants to buy a smaller home with me. I feel like I am walking on eggshells. I stay confused. This is just the tip of the iceberg. He knows I have epilepsy and stress brings on my seizures, but, that does not seem to matter to him nor me having a heart attack as well. I suppose it is because it only required a stent. He was always a wonderful, caring, loving husband and as many of you have stated, I no longer know whom I am living with anymore. I do not know what to do anymore. I love him so very much, but, I do not know how much I or my own health can take much longer. Prayers for all.
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