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Grateful daughter writes after father's cardiac bypass surgery

17 Jan
A grateful daughter describes her Type A, retired CEO father’s experience of being forced to learn how to relax and use imagery in the step-down unit, after a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery..
I wanted to write the Health Journeys office about my father’s experience with guided imagery. It’s quite a story. Dad is a retired CEO and a classic Type A personality. All his life, he’s been a hardnosed, driven workaholic who could not stand to wait in a line or relax on a vacation. To be fair, he’s also always been very generous, big-hearted and affectionate, too.

At age 63, he had a heart attack, got rushed to the hospital, had quadruple bypass surgery, and was forced during his recovery to learn relaxation in the step-down unit of the hospital. As you can imagine, our family was highly skeptical about his ability to implement these new relaxation skills.

But what we failed to take into account was his outsized need to excel at everything, and his incredible will to live well after this surgery. The doctor, who was no dope, very wisely presented him with some data about relaxation and what it did for cardiac health. So Dad "attacked" his relaxation training (I realize this is an ironic juxtaposition of terms!) in the same way that he ran his company, applying himself rigorously with his usual insane focus to learning to relax!!!

At first he had trouble, but, as with everything else, Dad became an ace at this new endeavor. And before our very eyes, he transformed away from the more unpleasant aspects of his personality, while the sweet, big-hearted guy he also was, came more to the front and center. The imagery for cardiac health really made a dent on him, as did the affirmations and the stress relief imagery. He is now on to the Weight Loss imagery, which he especially likes. It seems to rev up his engines, first thing in the morning, and these days, he needs this.

I am sure this will make him healthier and less subject to future heart attacks, but I and my family are so very grateful to have this more accessible, affectionate, present, feelingful guy around, in place of the driven lunatic we’d all gotten used to, I can’t tell you what a gift to the family this has been. My mother has fallen in love with him all over again, and he is so much happier! So thanks very much. I am still in shock, but very happily so.

A Newly Devoted (and Delighted) Daughter
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award