Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Humble Brag Letter

So, yesterday Jen at People I Want To Punch In The Throat linked me because I sent her a copy of my Humble Brag Christmas Letter and she used it.

My blog is normally about the after effects of suffering a massive heart attack at 42.  Because she has driven so much traffic here and was so gracious in linking me, the following is a slightly modified version of my letter:)

Our Family By The Numbers
3,243 miles between our home and Bataan, Costa Rica where Brendan moved after joining the Peace Corps.
2,080 hours Tyler spent in the County Jail (where he works :)).
1,048 miles flown by the youngest girls  first flight without parents.
1,000 times a week Minnie barks at absolutely nothing.
702 times that our granddaughter has made us laugh.
615 miles driven weekly by Jim as he travels the beautiful sunflower state for work
144 safety presentations Jim has presented during his travels.
133 miles between our home and college where Ashlyn is a freshman
86 times that Rachel has reminded us she will be old enough for her driving permit when she turns 14.
78 times that girls have fought over wearing each other’s clothes.
38 dance lessons (plus 2 recitals) attended by Emma.
35 friends and family that helped Jodi celebrate her first heart anniversary on October 13, 2012.
19 young kindergarten minds being molded by Amber.
10 dolphins Emma spotted during dolphin camp
5 stents total in Jodi’s LAD after going to the Cath Lab again in June.
3 different jobs that Jodi has now had with her company.
1 family that wishes each and every one of you a very happy holiday season filled with love and joy!!!

May each of you have a joyous holiday season!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"I thought of you"

When I had my heart attack, I was totally surprised.  In hindsight I shouldn't have been, but I was.  This leads me to believe that others would be in the same state of surprise and downright shock that I was if they suffered the same fate.

I write a lot on my personal Facebook page about the signs and symptoms of heart attacks.  When I share stuff from the American Heart Association or a link to an article on heart attacks, I always wonder if my friends are sick of seeing that on their walls. Usually I decide I don't really care if they are sick of it and I post it anyway.  I figure if any of my friends really don't like it they can block me or de-friend me.

Why do I continue to post things that I think my friends get sick of? In the 14 months since my heart attack I have had numerous times when friends say to me that they had a pain in their chest or numbness in an arm and they have thought of me and went to the doctor.  I like hearing that.  I am like the voice in the back of their head that says "go to the doctor".  I had a girlfriend say that to me just recently.  I have a friend who has decided to quit smoking say that it was in large part due to my heart issues that he made that decision.

If you are one of those people that feels everything happens for a reason, then I have finally found my reason.  The reason this happened to me is so that I can help educate others. The statistics are startling and I was fortunate enough to survive all of the startling statistics. If even one of my friends catches a heart attack before it kills them, then it was all worth it. If even one of you that read my blog goes to the doctor or hospital and are able to catch a heart attack before it kills you then all of it is worth it.

As such, if you have not taken a moment to watch this video that I posted a while back, please do!
"Just a Little Heart Attack"

I hope you continue to think of me every time you have symptoms that worry you.  May I always be the voice in the back of your mind.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lulled Into A False Sense of Security

I have found a unique group of women online that have also had heart attacks. It had been sometime since I had red Jen's blog, My Life In Red.  Last I read she was doing great and back to marathon running.  If you read my blog, you know that I had struggled with being overweight and sedentary.  If you think that heart disease does not apply to you because you are thin, fit and active, go read Jen's blog.  She was all of those and had a heart attack very young.

The reason I mention Jen's blog is that once I caught up reading her blog, I realized that she has recently had additional stent placement just like I did in June.  It has been almost 14 months since my heart attack and I will admit that I have been a little laxed on my diet because I have been lulled into what I know is a false sense of security.  The farther I am away from being so critically ill the more I have started to forget a little of what that was like.  I didn't realize how much that was true until I read Jen's blog last weekend. She was back to marathon training and here she is sick again.  I am glad I read it because I have made a real attempt to get back to what I know will work and keep me healthy and I am really ready to get back to it this week.  I thank her for sharing her story and struggles for exactly this reason.  It really drove home for me that I need to get rid of that false sense of security. This is a life long chronic disease for me that is never actually going away no matter how good I think I feel.  This is the absolute reality of heart disease.

Even though I say I have heart disease, some days I just feel too good for that to be real.  However, no matter how good  I feel at any time I could be back in the cath lab, they could be cracking my chest open or I could just suddenly die.  I don't look sick, people don't treat me like I am sick (nor should they start!) and I really don't  feel sick.  The harsh truth though is that I am sick.  I have a disease.  Not only do I have a disease, but my disease is the number 1, NUMBER 1 killer of women.  How's that for a high risk disease?  Even as I write this, it is still hard to believe. 

There is an emotional side to having a heart attack and now heart disease that is not often discussed.  This has been the hardest part for me. There is great anxiety involved with this diagnosis.  There is great sadness involved with this diagnosis.  There is great fear involved with this diagnosis.  Most days I do a pretty good job of setting all of this aside.  It is important for me to acknowledge these feelings but then put them away.  I think that these feelings can become all encompassing if you let them.  I choose to live my life as if I am not ill but I welcome the reminders (like this one from Jen) to remember to take it seriously.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just When I Think I Know Everything.....

I've never really been one to go around claiming I know everything, but let me tell you, I have done a ton of research on heart conditions and I consider myself a non medical expert at this point!!  All of my research has been in an effort to learn the things I need to learn to keep myself alive as long as my friends that are healthy.  This is not anything that is taught by the hospitals or docs.  They teach to control illness with medication.  I have learned you can control illness with nutrition.  I still need the medicine and always will, but I significantly improve my chances by really paying attention to nutrition.

Just when I think I know everything about something, I prove myself wrong.  I've done a lot of research on the effect of stress on your heart and really thought I had a pretty good handle on my stress level.  Just before my Heart Anniversary, I was offered a new position in my company.  Always up for a challenge, I accepted it.

What I thought prior to accepting this new position was that I had my stress level pretty well under control in my old job.  Boy was I wrong!  Now that I am in the new job, I can see just how stressful my old job was.  I no longer come into contact with the same people and I find the current folks I work with to be a lot less stressful.   I had been practicing the stress relief techniques I learned, but I can still see now that I really did not have a handle on my stress level.  Stress is damaging in many ways and I really need to be careful.  I like working and want to work so I need to make sure that if I find stress in my new job that I handle it better than I did before.

The other thing I don't know everything about is what it takes to keep my nutrition on track.  I did not do well over the summer.  What I have learned from gaining back hard earned lost pounds is that planning is key.  As I did not have much time to really plan out my food over the summer, so went the weight loss.  I am going to have to plan out my food better when I travel.  I just have not been very organized since my second heart cath procedure.  It is time to get back to it!  I have gotten back into walking and now back to no added oil vegan. It feels good to get back to it!  I don't even feel like Thanksgiving will be a challenge!

On the Thanksgiving note, I wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving.  Once again this Thanksgiving I am thankful that I lived to see my birthday last week.  Unlike those that fear getting older, I celebrate the second chance I've been given to celebrate each of those birthdays.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Things I Learn

So I found this article:

Heart Attack Risk Factors

I'm not sure what to think of it.  I have psoriasis and was taking Zithromax shortly before my heart attack for an upper respiratory infection.

Wow, the things I learn post heart attack amaze me.  I never would have read this article had I not had a heart attack because I could not possibly have been at risk!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy Heart Anniversary to Me!!

Yesterday was my one year heart anniversary.  One year ago, I was being chauffeured to the hospital in an ambulance.  When I arrived I was in the midst of a massive heart attack.  How surreal it all was.  Even today, it is still hard for me to believe.  I'm not sure the words "I had a heart attack" will ever flow out of my mouth without some bit of disbelief!  This last year has been a totally amazing ride!

I threw myself a big celebration this weekend.  On Friday I had date night with my husband and we stayed in town for the night.

Yesterday, I threw myself a part at a local tavern. So many people came out to help me celebrate and on top of that brought cards and gifts.  That was unexpected!  An occasion such as this reaffirms how lucky I am to have the lifelong friendships that I have and also how lucky I am to still be here to enjoy them. What a blessing!

Of all the odd things, my friend in this last pic had a heart attack when she was 37.  What are the odds?  Strikingly high I have discovered in the last year.  She and I are each 1 in 3 with heart disease.  Are you the 1 too?  Take care of yourselves so you are never the 1.  Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined.

After the afternoon long party, my friend Beth and I were off to Norah Jones at a historic theater in town.

What a phenomenal performer Norah Jones is!  Just an amazing concert.  It was the perfect ending to an absolutely perfect day.

 This weekend has turned out to be a much more enjoyable weekend than this same weekend a year ago!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Where Did the Summer Go?

Wow, July 1 was the last time I wrote.  How time flies when you are busy! 

Well, on June 11 I had the second heart cath procedure performed by my new cardiologist that I love.  I was really pissed off when I found that I had to have that procedure.  All the lifestyle changes  I made and I still needed two additional stents.  The new blockage was restenosis from scar tissue.  It turns out that one of the complications from my original surgery was that they tore my artery.  I had a lot of blockage at the site of the tear from scar tissue. That was a second heart attack waiting to happen if I had taken what my first cardiologist had to say to heart (so to speak).

As I am two and a half months out from the second cath procedure I can see that the re-stenosis diagnosis was a blessing in disguise.  When they performed the first procedure on the night I had my heart attack, my arteries were so small that they really could not expand the smallest stents they had completely.  Hence the reason my artery tore.  As they placed the second set of stents (for a total of 5 in my LAD) they were able to expand the stents farther than the first time because of the scar tissue build up.  It actually gave my artery additional strength and allowed a more successful stent placement.  Blessing in disguise!

I had a second nuclear medicine stress test in August and all turned out great with that one.  My heart looks good, my ejection fraction is good and I actually have only a very, very small amount of permanent heart damage from my heart attack.  This is entirely due to the fact that I called an ambulance as quick as I did and I was taken seriously and received excellent proper treatment right away when I arrived at the hospital.  Rosie O'Donnell recently had the same heart attack that I had.  She waited a long time to seek treatment and is very lucky to be in the 20% of women that survive the "widow maker".  Please don't ever wait that long.  From what I now know, most women die because they are sick with heart attack symptoms and then go to sleep.  Often times, they just don't wake up.  Make sure that is never you!

At my follow up appointment in July, I was able to stop taking the lisinopril (BP med) and I now have cut the carvedilol (the other BP med) in half.  Good news is that after I got to stop taking those, my BP is back up to normal after dropping really, really low.  Really low BP gives you the sensation of being pretty drunk and it is hard to function!  I have to take the blood thinners until next June though because the new stents are also drug eluding.

Outside of that news, the new way of eating has been extremely difficult to follow over the summer.  I went to vegetarian instead of vegan.  I have gained 8 lbs back.  I am back to vegan again.  It is a very difficult way of life for me if I do not have proper time to prepare.  The summer has been so busy that it hasn't left a lot of time to prepare food.  Plus, my kitchen hates me so this has not been an unwelcome turn of events!!  I had two 25 year class reunions, my company's User Summit that we put on for our client's, vacation and we moved the oldest daughter to college.  Whew!!  I had the best time at both reunions.  I feel very fortunate to have been able to attend!
Me in the middle at the second reunion I attended. Vegas and 30 year friend Deb on the left!

My heart anniversary is fast approaching on October 13.  It will have been a year since the near fatal heart attack.  I am throwing a party at a local bar--they serve a great veggie burger!   What's not to celebrate?  I have gotten a rare chance to beat death and be able to see what the turn out would have been at my funeral.  It is humbling really.  I really had no idea what a lucky girl I am.  I look at all these people that have expressed genuine concern and realized that no matter how I know them, I am lucky to have had each and every one of them touch my life in some way, shape or form. It makes me rich beyond my wildest expectations!  There really are no words.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fear of Bleeding to Death

I have had a whirlwind three weeks starting with the second cath procedure I had done on June 11.

The cath procedure is a funny thing.  It is as non invasive as you can be considering they are sticking metal tubes in the arteries surrounding your heart for the sole purpose of keeping you alive.  For both of my surgeries, they made an incision at the top of my right leg in the groin area in the femoral artery.  This is the main artery in the lower portion of your body.  They thread up a little wire and put the stent in.  There is no anesthesia other than a little Valium and Versed.  This means you get to talk to the doc and nurses while they are saving your life.  Odd phenomenon really.  When they are done, you have some fabulous accommodations in the ICU or CCU.

Once they are done and you are in your room, you have to lay absolutely flat.  This is because they have made an incision in the femoral artery and they really, really do not want this to break open.  You bleed to death very quickly if the femoral artery incision should it happen to break open.  I have never done any research on how often this actually happens, but they scare the hell out of you in the hospital about it.  Here you have survived heart issues and everyone you come in contact with is telling you not to move certain ways so you don't break that incision open.

When you get discharged from the hospital, they send you home with an immense fear of moving the wrong way.  They give you a whole list of things not to do:  Don't drive, don't lift, don't go up and down stairs, don't strain going to the bathroom and on and on.  More than anything, I left the hospital afraid of this.  I really wasn't afraid of anything cardiac. Perhaps the scare tactic is an effective tool for them to avoid a high instance of this.  I know for sure that this was the scariest thing about either one of my surgeries--I didn't want to bleed to death.

On a different note, I have totally tanked my diet the last two weeks.  I have eaten vegetarian, but not the no added oil plant strong diet.  I had some dairy and oil over the last two weeks.  First was my company conference that we put on for our clients and then was my 25 year high school reunion for the high school I did not attend.  I went K-8 with them.  I found myself in situations that I just had to eat so I picked the best vegetarian options they had.  The other thing about these functions was they took up my entire weekends which meant taking up my grocery shopping and food prep time.  I now know for sure that if I don't take the time to do this, then I can't follow the way of eating I would like.  As a result of this, I have gained five pounds back and my psoriasis is coming back.  So, either the oil or the dairy are the root cause of my psoriasis.

This morning, I have refocused.  Here is breakfast:
I spent yesterday cutting up lots of fruits and veggies.  I have leafy green lettuces and kale and I made some salad dressing.  I am set for this next week and ready to eat plant strong again!

I had a blast at the 25 year reunion and it felt so good to be thinner when I attended.  I saw some very long time dear friends.  Here are my friends Beth and Brian with me.  The first pic is in seventh grade and in the front from left to right is Beth, Brian and myself.  The second pic is from last weekend, thirty (yikes!!) years later.  I am so thankful that I get the chance to hang out with my good friends still!

As I look at these pics, I truly understand the importance of refocusing and ensuring that I am around for the 30th year reunion!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Post Heart Surgery Again

Good Wednesday to everyone!  I once again find myself post heart surgery and feeling much better than I had been feeling.

If you read my post about Dismal Post Heart Attack Care, you know that I was not happy with the care that I received after I left the hospital after my heart attack.  They were fabulous while I was there and saved my life.  It was the after care and I wasn't comfortable not being seen for heart care for another year.  I went for a second opinion two weeks ago because I was having chest pain.  I just had a feeling that it wasn't right.    The doc ordered a nuclear medicine stress test, echocardiogram and a holter monitor.  I had those done a week ago today and kicked some butt on the treadmill during the stress test. They wore out my legs before my heart.  I left the hospital feeling really upbeat that maybe nothing was wrong.

They had told me to expect the results probably today.  They said the docs would need to read them and that the only reason I would hear from them any earlier is if something was really abnormal.  Don't you know that they called me last Thursday morning!  The nurse said that my stress test was abnormal and showed restenosis.  They wanted me in the cath lab on Monday.  She told me they would take a look and do whatever intervention was necessary on Monday.

I was hysterical over this and could not quit crying.  Even though I had chest pain, I had convinced myself that it was nothing.  I didn't want to go through all of this again. I don't want to be this sick--this was all I could think.  I am 43 years old and too young to be this sick. Once I pulled myself together, then I was just mad.  Really pissed!!  I have done all of this work.  I've lost a bunch of weight and I eat a whole grain, plant based diet.  I eat no animal products at all--not one bit of meat or dairy. (Outside of drowning my surgery fears in some ice cream!)  How can I be having these problems?  I am not normally one to wallow in any kind of self pity, but I wallowed in it for three days.

On Monday, I checked into the hospital at 9 am.  They took me to the cath lab and started prepping me with an IV,  fluids and lots of bells and whistles that sound very loudly when something is wrong with your heart.  My 11 am surgery got pushed back because their was an ER emergency in the cath lab. You will never find me complaining about pushing me back because of a cardiac emergency in the ER.  On October 13, 2011 I was that cardiac emergency suffering from a massive heart attack. I just sat and chatted with my husband and my friend Steph. 

They finally took me back about 11:50.  They were all so nice and my experience there was awesome.  Once I was back, the doc made the incision in my femoral artery in the groin area, threaded the catheter to my heart and took a look.  Turns out, I was 70% blocked in two areas from scarring.  Because my arteries are already small, the amount of scarring that was there was quite a bit.  I would have had another heart attack had I ignored this.  They were actually able to re-stent and used two additional stents to open the scar tissue blockage back up.  It was instant chest pain relief.

I will note that even though I wasn't happy about the follow up care of my first doc, this was not his fault.  The scarring is just something that happens.  If you have normal sized arteries, this is not a biggie.  The reason it was an issue for me is because of my small arteries.  Go figure!  The new doc said now that we have fixed the scarring issue, he does not feel like I will have any more problems.  What a relief because if I do have any more problems, there is not any room for any more stents!  It would be cracking my chest open and by passing the area.

I don't normally give advice, but today I am throwing out a bit of advice.  My advice is to always listen to your gut instinct and to understand that doctors don't always get it right.  Stand up for yourself and your health care. I listened to my gut instinct on October 13, 2011 and called an ambulance which saved my life during a massive heart attack.  In May, I really, really wanted the answer my first doc gave me which is I was fine.  The problem was that my gut told me I wasn't.  I listened again, got a second opinion and managed to avoid a second heart attack altogether.  I once again feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

I am also the luckiest girl in the world because of the outpouring of encouragement I have received from all of those in my life.  It is truly amazing and I lead a very blessed, amazing life.  I now get to focus on my first of two 25 year class reunions coming up a week from Saturday.  I get to go on vacation in July and then I get to go to the other 25 year reunion in August.  I can feel comfortable once again that I will be there in person and not on the memorial table.  That, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Well hell, all of the kickin' ass and takin' names I've been doing on my road to heart health has not been enough.  There is too much scar tissue at the stent site for my genetically small arteries, so off to  heart surgery on Monday.  All of you need to listen to your bodies.  If I had listened to my original cardiologist, I would never have caught this before another massive heart attack and I could have been dead by next year's appointment!  There is no amount of nutrition or exercise that would have prevented the scar tissue, so I know there is nothing short of not having the first heart attack that could have prevented this surgery.  I'll post when I am through it:)  Cheers!!

Time To Re-Focus

So, I have lost the 30 lbs but still have 23 more to lose to be in a healthy BMI range.  As much as I would like to weigh what I did when I graduated high school, realistically after kids, my body is just not THAT skinny anymore.  ***Sigh***.  I started at 203, weigh 173 and have a healthy BMI goal of 150.

My body started changing shape when I gained 90 lbs with my first pregnancy.  I started at 140 and ended at 230 on my 5'6" frame.  This was really the start of total out of control being fat for me.  I was 29 when I got pregnant the first time--for those of you doing the math on me being a grandma, my older kids are by marriage;) I am 43 now so that is 14 years of weight struggles.  I am tired of struggling with weight.  I am tired of the havoc it has wreaked on my health.  Most of all and most shallowly I will openly admit that I really just want to look better.  I don't like being fat, but it is so very hard to jump off the fat bandwagon.   I am getting there.  I'm glad I was able to jump off even if it took a 3 day post heart attack stay in the ICU to get me there. I know me better than anyone else and I can tell you that I don't always like what I know about me.  I know that if I had not had the heart attack, I'd still be on the fat bandwagon.  Blessings come in odd packages sometimes!!

Right now, I am stalled.  I have lost the 30 lbs but have not lost anymore.  On the flip side, my body is changing shape from all of the walking.  I still loathe it, the exercise.  Perhaps this is why I didn't stay skinny bitch after high school--and I was a skinny little thing!  I just really, really loathe exercising.  Once I am doing it, it feels good and I feel great after.  It is the actually getting started.  I have been walking 3 miles 4-5 times a week for some time now.  I will get there, it is just so frustratingly slow!

If you follow my blog, you know several things about me including the fact that I am now vegan and the fact that I struggle with my last vice which is caffeine (coffee and soda).  I have been feeling stuck and found this the other day:  Stuck In A Rut.  I read it and it was like hitting me over the head with a hammer.  Just because you are vegan does not automatically make your diet healthy.  I have let oil seep back into my diet and have been eating more crackers and bread than I should.  It is time to re-focus and put the overwhelming amount of veggies back into my diet.  I started doing that on Monday.  Now, to just give up the soda:).

We are at a 10 week countdown to my high school reunion which of course is my main motivator currently.  I am so excited to see everyone and excited not to be fat and sick when I go!  Mostly, glad that I am not a person that people will pity because "she is so young to have all those health problems."

I had all of my tests yesterday and don't think I am actually glowing from the radioactive dye that they injected me with!  They went very well.  I have had so much anxiety over these tests and over the lack of knowing where my heart health stands that I haven't been able to sleep. I am so excited that they did not cart me off to the OR and crack my chest open yesterday after the treadmill portion of the testing.  This was my large fear as I got to the hospital yesterday.  I slept so soundly last night even though I don't have the actual results back.  I just needed some reassurance that I am not going to keel of another heart attack right now and not going to the OR helped:)

Here's to getting out of the rut this week, the renewed energy it brings and not keeling of another heart attack!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why do I eat the Rabbit Food??

I went to the new cardiologist last Tuesday.  It was a good day.  Even though I didn't like some of the things he had to say, I understood the explanations.

We talked about the cholesterol lowering medication.  What I wanted to know is if my total cholesterol was at 134 when I had my heart attack, why am I taking it?  I have now gone totally plant based, whole grain which also lowers cholesterol.  He explained to me that once you have had a heart attack,  none of the numbers you read really pertain to you.  Once you've had a heart attack, there is no such thing as cholesterol that is too low.

We talked about the anatomy of most heart attacks.  Most  heart attacks are not caused by a gradual blockage of the artery rather they are caused by a small plaque build up.  The plaque in the build up ruptures and the blood rushes to clot the rupture which results in a complete blockage causing a heart attack.  There are other causes of heart attacks, but this is what they think caused mine.  He explained that the cholesterol lowering medication not only prevents further build up (as does the way of eating I now follow), but it also makes any existing plaque build up more stable.  All of this being said, he told me I didn't have to take the medicine, but if he is me, he takes it.  Armed with the knowledge that I need, I can now comfortably make an educated decision.  I am going to have my liver function tested to make sure it is doing no damage and if it is not I have decided to continue taking it.

We discussed the fact that I am having heart palpitations and some tightness in my chest.  Every pain I feel is concerning to me.  We are running tests on Wednesday to check these things out--nuclear medicine stress test, echocardiogram and holter monitor.  He said at this point the stress test and echo would be standard for someone post heart attack.  The holter monitor is to check out the heart palpitations.  There is a 95% chance I have always had them and only now notice them because I am so in tune with what goes on in my chest. Hopefully, that is what we find out.

On the bright side, the doctor likes the diet I am following.   I wish I could educate those around me about my diet better.  One of the guys at work asked me if I am still eating that "rabbit food".  He also asked if there is just medicine I could take.  Basically he can't understand why I am so intent on living a healthy when I could just take medicine.  He clearly doesn't get it--being heart attack free is a complete lifestyle change which I excel at most days.  There are a few that sneak in that are not as healthy as others, but I don't stress over that as long as they stay in the very few.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial day to you all!  I have had some time to experiment in the kitchen this weekend, so here is what I have learned.

First, I learned about parchment paper.  Who knew??  It is not easy to cook without oil.  Actually let me correct that.  It is not easy for me to cook at all, let alone without oil.  There--that sums me up better.  I have had multiple episodes of filling the entire house with black smoke attempting to cook without oil.  The parchment paper fixes this. I used it twice yesterday and I will be keeping this on hand in my kitchen.  I can cook on it with no oil and not burn everything up.

The first recipe I tried was White Bean Queso Dip.

This was a great recipe from Robin Robertson.  Actually, I can always make her recipes and you can find her blog here.  This was so yummy and satisfies the Mexican cravings I have.

The second recipe that I worked on was for a veggie burger.  Now it sounds like a veggie burger should be easy to make, but not so much.  I have struggled to find a recipe that I can make successfully.  I tried this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet site.  I chose the black beans, quick oats , peppers and corn.  I used 1/4 C of vegetable stock.  Mine were a little on the wet side, so next time I would add more oats. 

Here is what dinner looked like last night:
I cooked my sweet potato wedges on the parchment paper too.

I have an appointment with a new cardiologist tomorrow.  I hope to have answers to all of my questions and concerns after my appointment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dismal Post Heart Attack Care

In my last post I wrote about what I call post heart attack stun.  As I have emerged from this and done loads of research, I have learned a few things.  I have learned enough to know that I should question what is told to me.

I went to my cardiologist in Lawrence on Tuesday.  After almost an hour of waiting in the waiting room, they called me back.  So, we get back in the room and the nurse is insinuating that my family doctor should be managing my meds because he prescribed them.  Really??  Did you not look at my records?  Up until October 13, 2011 I took absolutely no medicine.   So, I asked her why my family doc would manage the meds that my cardiologist gave me.  She got hateful.  We continue on through reviewing my list of meds.  Mind you, she is following through the EMR that is asking these questions.  About three questions after the list of meds, she asks if I bruise easily.  I say "Why yes, I am taking blood thinners."  She looks at me and says "you are?"  We had just gone over the fact that I take aspirin and Plavix.  Plavix is a blood thinner.  Now I am worried because the nurse taking care of me in the cardiologist office doesn't know that Plavix is a blood thinner!!  Isn't that her job?  She also tells me that 120/80 is not normal blood pressure, it is way too high.  I proceeded to tell her that I was quite frankly sick of her and to send the doctor in.  I know, I was hateful but this is my health we are  talking about.  It is at this point after I am livid that she takes my BP and it was high  133/77.  I attribute this to her lack of being a good nurse and pissing me off.

The doc comes in.  He asks how I am doing and we do all the chit chat.  I am expecting that 7 months post heart attack we will do an EKG at least.  Perhaps we will check my cholesterol because it was a total of 134 when they put me on cholesterol lowering medication so "your heart can rest."  He proceeds to say he doesn't think I will have anymore issues and that the four prescription meds I am on will just be lifetime meds because that is how he treats all heart attack patients and he will see me in a year.  Really, this is it?  Don't you think if I am going to take the cholesterol meds that you should check my liver function?  Nope, not even going to do that.  Does he even realize that a lifetime of meds for someone that is 43 is a whole lot different than a lifetime of meds for someone who is 80?

I left there livid.  I'd had a list of questions I wanted to ask and I was so mad I didn't even ask them.  You expect me to take a cocktail of meds blindly for another year just because that is how you treat all heart attack patients?  Screw you.  That means that you are treating me just the same as someone who has had a heart attack that has not made all of the significant life changes that I have.  I now follow a  plant based, whole grain diet yet you are going to treat me just as the person who still eats chicken fried steak and gravy?  Screw you again.  I want to be treated because I am Jodi, not because I am a heart attack patient.  You want to treat me like someone who hasn't lost any weight and doesn't exercise?  Screw you again.  I exercise every day and have lost 30 lbs.  You haven't bothered with any blood work, EKG or stress tests--screw you again.  I am grateful you saved my life, but you have hung me out to dry guessing if I am even on the right path post heart attack.

I have a second opinion scheduled for Tuesday at another hospital.  There is no way I am blindly taking a dangerous drug cocktail with no monitoring for the next year.  You know what really scares me?  I have worked in and around the medical field since I was 22 years old so I am not afraid of doctors and I don't think they are always right.  How does someone that has not gained the knowledge I have over the years know to question this type of treatment?  How does someone who is elderly and confused know to question this type of treatment?  It scares me for all of the patients that do not have the motivation to do their own research on their illnesses. I expect that this next appointment will go much better.  I can't imagine there are too many docs in this world that suck this bad at follow up care as the one I have been seeing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Far Reaching Effects

I volunteered a week ago at an AHA event in Kansas City.  This video was made that day and it is a powerful example of how families are affected by heart disease.

Post Heart Attack Stun

So over on the Facebook Page yesterday I posted about not going vegan until Jan 1 because of post heart attack stun.  Post heart attack stun is what I call the period following the heart attack where everything seems so surreal and you really don't absorb what has happened.

Once I was out of the cath lab, they wheeled me up to the ICU.  There was lots of talking from the doctors and the nurses. I really didn't absorb much of it.  Quite honestly, I could hardly believe I'd had a heart attack.  I most certainly could not absorb the seriousness of the situation.  It was much like I would envision an out of body experience.  It was hard to absorb any of it because I knew I’d had a heart attack yet, I didn’t feel like it.  The symptoms I had experienced were nothing like what I thought a heart attack would be.  I never lost consciousness…hell, they didn’t give me anything more than Valium and Versed during my surgery.  I watched it all on the flat screens.  To me, this is not the picture of a massive heart attack.

I know my friends and family had a hard time absorbing it too.  On that Thursday after my husband, ex-husband and kids left and I was alone in the room, it was probably 10:00pm.  I called my friend Deb and this is how our conversation goes:  

Deb:  “Hey, what are you up to?”
Me:   “I just had a heart attack.”
Deb:  “Over what?”
Me:  “Seriously, I just had a heart attack and I just got out of the cath lab. I’m      
           in the ICU."
Deb:  Stunned silence.

This is how most of my conversations went immediately following the heart attack. I was 42 and so are most of them.  I can picture just what they were feeling.  Jodi is 42, so am I.  That is too young.  That is what I thought too.
As the sun came up Friday morning, I had a steady stream of docs, nurses, counselors, and cardiac rehab folks in and out of my room.  Each one telling me I was very lucky and I had done everything right.  At this point, I still have no idea of the seriousness of the heart attack I had suffered.  No one used the term “widow-maker”.  Even if they had used that term, I wouldn’t have understood.  Friday night, they moved me out of the ICU and into a regular room.  I got to go home on Saturday and refused all pain and anxiety meds when I went home.

By Tuesday, I made an appointment with my family doctor because I desperately needed the pain meds.  The femoral artery incision site and all of the surrounding bruising turned out to be very, very painful. He has access to the hospital records but didn’t realize I’d had a heart attack.  When he looked at the records, he said, “Oh boy, you survived the widow-maker.  Did you know only 20% of women survive it?”  This was my first indication that I could actually absorb of what had really happened.  He spent much more time with me than I know he had scheduled and I will forever appreciate it.  We went back over all of my test results from my physical that I had just had about 7 weeks prior to the heart attack.  He was just as surprised as me.

What really brought me out of the post heart attack stun and into a change mode was a show I watched in November.  I watched CNN's "The Last Heart Attack."  What I watched there truly frightened me.  It was then that I started researching everything that had happened to me.  I was mostly frightened by the things I came across.  I made the decision to drastically alter my lifestyle and go plant based on January 1, 2012.(No need to set myself up to fail over the holidays.)

Once I was able to emerge from the stun, I was able to take control of my life and make the decision not to let this happen to me again.  It has been very liberating.  As of today, the scale is down 30 lbs and I weigh exactly what I did the day I got married almost four years ago.  I have 23 more pounds and will have hit the goal weight of being in a healthy BMI for my height.  The skinny bitch is in sight!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

You Never Want To Hear Stemi Alert

The University of Kansas Medical Center sends me a little magazine called Be Well three times a year.  Yesterday, I received the May-August 2012 issue.  In large part, the issue is about the new home for women's heart health.  It looks like a fabulous facility.  In this issue, I find this:

So, I find the STEMI thing highly disturbing.  What they called from the ambulance to LMH was a STEMI alert when I was on my way to the hospital. I didn't know what that meant until I read this.  Although I knew I had a massive heart attack, I did not realize it was really the worst kind you could have.  I learn something new everyday....and I am more thankful every day.

On Friday, I volunteered for the Go Red For Women Half Day event in Kansas City.  There was a fabulous turnout and everyone came to bid on fabulous auction items.  All to raise money for the American Heart Association.  I had a great time and hope to volunteer again:

Me on the left

I continue to improve and am absolutely still following the plant based diet.  Truly, I have never felt better.

I have no new food news this week.  On a good note, I think my kitchen and I are coming to a truce.  Perhaps my kitchen understands that I now really need to use it and is cutting me some slack for my lack of domestic gene.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Is The Difference?

So, a few posts back I posted that of the women that initially survive a heart attack, 42% of those women die with in a year.  I wonder why these women die because I still have five and a half months of this statistic hanging over my head.  October 13 is my heart anniversary.  I have searched blogs of women that have suffered heart attacks and found that there are women that are still very sick from their heart attack even years after the heart attack.  I have been really questioning why these women are not doing as well as me--what is the difference?

I have read over and over about women who were having a  heart attack that drove themselves or had someone else drive them to the hospital and were misdiagnosed and sent home.  They are misdiagnosed with a multitude of different illnesses.  Back strain, gallbladder disease, indigestion and panic attacks and the flu.   Mostly they were misdiagnosed because heart attacks can present as back strain, gallbladder disease, indigestion, panic attacks and the flu.  The thing is, when they are misdiagnosed, the heart muscle damage they suffer only gets worse.  Once you suffer heart muscle damage, your heart is just damaged.  It doesn't fix itself.  So here these women are having been misdiagnosed and their heart muscle is slowly dying as they are sent home.  My heart breaks for them.  I have read about women who can hardly brush their own hair, take a shower by themselves or walk from the car to the house because of the heart muscle damage their heart attacks caused them. 

So, why am I not in the same shape after the massive heart attack that I suffered?  I can tell you that immediately following my heart attack, I laid in the ICU thinking that this is what my life would be like.  All I could picture was not being able to function.  I am so fortunate that things did not turn out this way for me.  What was different for me?  I asked that over and over--how did I get so lucky?  I got lucky by chance.

The day I had my heart attack, I had just the right set of circumstances that made me call an ambulance.  I had the right combination of symptoms that gave me the feeling that I would die if I didn't get help and get it quickly.  Don't get me wrong, I had all the same things go through my head as anyone else would--should I call the ambulance?  What if it is just indigestion?  I was home by myself so if I went in an ambulance, I wouldn't have a ride home if they didn't keep me.  It turned out to be a good thing that I was home by myself because I couldn't talk my decision over with anyone.  I couldn't say I'll just wait until after the kids are fed or homework is done.  There wasn't anything else for me to concentrate on other than how bad I felt.

In the end, I called the ambulance.  When they loaded me in the ambulance, my blood pressure was 200/120--way high!  From the ambulance they called my symptoms into the ER.  As a result, when we arrived, I never saw a member of the ER staff.  The docs and nurses I saw were all part of the specialized cardiac team.  They called them into the hospital and they had all arrived when I got there and were waiting for me.  I had a fabulous interventional cardiologist that had no doubt that a woman my age could be having a heart attack.  The reality was I had 100% blockage of my left descending coronary artery also known as the widow maker. I was lucky not to be misdiagnosed.  He told me I did everything right.

As I continue to read the stories that are not as successful as mine, I continue to become more thankful and understand more and more that I am so very lucky. I take advantage of this as I have completely changed my lifestyle.  I am totally no oil added vegan and I exercise everyday.  I have started walking at lunch for 30 minutes everyday with one of my coworkers.  We have been doing this for three weeks.  I have not had a soda in over a week.  I have great co workers that cheer me on as well as family and friends.  I am a very lucky gal!

In the end, all I can come up with as I continue to think about it is that luck was the only difference.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great Soup!

So, I tried the soup recipe that I posted earlier this week.  It was a very uneventful process with only one really minor stab injury.  It was pretty minor because even with the blood thinner, by house did not look like a crime scene!

I added some nutritional yeast on top when I garnished it.  I think I will add some corn.  It needs just a little sweet flavor, but overall turned out very yummy!  Adding a little variety is good!

The scale is down just a little more.  I have lost 27 lbs and now have 26 to lose.  I have lost more than I have left to lose which is great!  I went shopping with my friend Deb (my Vegas friend Deb) yesterday.  First of all, I got rock star parking at a really packed mall and secondly, I came home with a size 10 Eddie Bauer jeans.  Not bad for wearing a size 16 in January!!  On top of the fact that my clothes size is getting smaller, I am getting healthier. 

Last week only went so so without doing any food preparation.  A whole lot of salad last week!  I did quite a bit more preparation today and should have a good food week this week!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Heart Sisters

Carolyn at Heart Sisters  has a great blog article on runaway stress today.  Check it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

Asparagus and Broccoli Soup
6 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Heat 1/2 cup broth in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add leek and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add remaining broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in asparagus and broccoli and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside to let cool slightly.
Carefully transfer soup to a blender and purée in batches until smooth. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with chives and serve.
--Recipe from

Now this looks good, and I don't think there is any possible way to burn it.  I will try it this weekend:)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Work I Love

So, for sometime now, I have talked about working for myself in the future.  I thought I had a lot of time.  I have realized over the last six months that life is really short.  Do you know that 42% of women that actually survive a heart attack die within a year?  I still have six months of that statistic hanging over my head.  Every little pain I experience is magnified.  Back pain, shoulder pain, jaw pain and nausea are all symptoms of a heart attack but are also just an indication of back pain, shoulder pain, jaw pain and nausea.  I struggle with how I react to these things.  I suppose I will always struggle.  It is a harsh reality of post heart attack life.

I feel very fortunate to be around to try to turn my hobby into a business.  I have started booking weddings and hope that this business will pick up enough to allow me to do this.  I took engagement pics of a great couple yesterday morning at one of my favorite places in Kansas City, the West Bottoms.  They were so much fun and I can't wait to shoot the wedding!  I have resisted weddings, but that is really where the money is and as I know and want you to know, life is truly short.  If this is what I want to do, I best get on it!

I didn't do a whole lot of food prep this weekend, so we will see how the week goes.  I did shop, I just didn't prepare.  I think it will be the old standard of black beans, rice and corn for lunches this week.  Super easy and something that I really like!  The scale is down again this week and I feel like the elusive skinny bitch might actually not be such a lofty goal after all:)!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

6 Months

Well, I have thought a lot this week about the sudden journey I began 6 months ago.  Friday was the six month post heart attack mark.  I could have never imagined on the morning of October 13, 2011 what my life would be like today.

Today, I find myself in a small club of remarkable women.  Each one with her own story and her own motivation to meet heart disease head on.  We are in a club I never knew existed--the 20% of women that survive the "widow maker."  In a club of women that have survived heart attacks period.  I have come to find out how very fortunate that I was to survive.  There are not that many women that do.  That 20% statistic means that 80% of women die. 

In the last week, I came across the link to the Greater Kansas City Heart Walk.  I find that this event has been taking place for years and much like others, I always thought it was great people did that but I didn't pay much attention past that.  This year we have our team set to walk and it means a great deal to me.  I need to start looking for a way to share my story with more women.

I started a no added oil vegan diet on January 1 of this year and on April 15 I weigh 26 pounds less.  Yay to success!!  Surprising not only to me but to my close friends is that I have not had any catastrophic injury in the kitchen since I have actually been using my kitchen since January--I love that I have not lost a finger and should probably knock on wood!!! The other surprise is that I have not burned the house down! I still eat mostly raw, so perhaps this is the reason that I haven't burned the house down:)  Raw is just easier, keeps me on track and is probably always how I will eat.

Today was food day.  I did not like the marinated chick peas because I used the blueberry dressing.  I like the blueberry dressing just not on the chick peas. So I pureed them into hummus.  It has a fabulous taste spread on my no oil pumpernickel bread.  I continue to uncover more about the link between food and disease.  I am confident every day that I have made the right decision and will have much heart health in the future. 

On the morning of October 13, 2011 I could never have imagined that on April 15, 2012 I would be able to say that I no longer eat meat or dairy products.  That was so foreign to me then.  I am still surprised at the ease that I have taken to this.  It is not all that great, I still drink diet soda.  I still fight that fight but expect that I will conquer it eventually.  Quite honestly, on the morning of October 13, 2011, I could not imagine being a "heart attack survivor" or how much being a heart attack survivor would have come to mean to me today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Some Good Superfoods

The New Superfoods You Should Be Eating

I agree with all but the first one because it is dairy.  They give a good shout out to nutritional yeast which I love!  It is great on air popped popcorn and pasta.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Kitchen Day!

So, for someone who's kitchen hates her, I am actually having a great day in the kitchen!

First, I managed to very closely replicate the veggie wrap I had out at Toby Keith's Bar and Grill at Harrah's in Vegas. I diced up cucumbers and red peppers.  I added corn, leafy greens and avocado with the salad dressing I make.  I added hummus to the spinach tortilla before I wrapped it all up.  It was fabulous if I do say so myself!

Secondly, my hummus salad dressing I have been making?  Watch out, I went out on a limb and made a different variation of it:)  Instead of using orange juice I used blueberry pomegranate juice.  I love it!  I am marinating some chickpeas in it in hopes of duplicating the salad I had at Witchcraft at the MGM.

The rest is the same old food preparation I  do every week and I won't bore you with that.  I will tell you that I have managed to avoid any catastrophic injury and have not set off the whole house oven timers!!  WoooHooo!!

I posted the link to sign up to walk with me at the Kansas City Heart Walk.  You will have to walk a little fast because I have a daughter that is graduating from high school  that day at 1pm:)  I really need to be back for that!  There is also a link to donate to the American Heart Association if you can't walk with us!

If you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a Happy Easter.  If you don't, I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, April 6, 2012

An Interview with Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.

Dr. Esselstyn Interview

I love his book.  He is who led me to the no added fat vegan diet to prevent another heart attack.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Donate or join my team

I have our team all set up for the 2012 Greater Kansas City Heart Walk--so very important to me this year~

To Donate for the Skinny Healthy Bitches

To Walk with the Skinny Healthy Bitches

Yay Girls Trip!

I arrived home from Las Vegas two nights ago.  I had five nights out there with my two girlfriends.  We had a blast and my cardiologist will be happy that we walked about 20 miles over the five days!

On Thursday, we arrived and got settled in.  We had a great one bedroom apartment suite with two bathrooms at the Rivera and it worked perfect for us!
That is me on the left 25 lbs thinner than Jan 1!

I was really excited that I was able to follow my vegan for all but one meal!  I had Chipoltle for a few meals.  Toby Keith's Bar and Grill at Harrah's had a veggie wrap that was served with fresh fruit.  I had that a few times.  I also had a Vegan salad at Witchcraft at the MGM several times.  It was REALLY good!  Marinated chickpeas, marinated green olives, roasted red peppers on dark greens then the chickpeas in an iceberg lettuce bowl.  I ate a fruit cup and coffee every morning for breakfast.  I was glad to have my love crackers and the veggie crumbles.  I did snack on those.  All in all, eating was not as big of an issue as I feared!

We  hung at the pool and did a little gambling on Friday:

We did a little shopping as well.  I am someone who never wears heels, but I have decided a little post heart attack reinvention is in order.  I tried some on and bought a cute little pair of cork wedge heels.  I tried on a great shoe that I decided not to buy because I thought I couldn't walk in them.

On Saturday we hung at the pool again, did some more casino/hotel tours and some gambling.  In the evening, we watched our Kansas Jayhawks beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Final Four:

On Sunday, we stalked the Orange Carpet at the ACM Awards and I got some good pics of Darius Rucker, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Taylor Swift and Kiss:

On Monday, we did some more shopping I went back to the shoe store and tried the heels on again.  They had been on sale and they only had the one pair in my size.  To my surprise, they still had them.  They were 75% off and I had to have them.  No one could believe that the girl that wears no make up and tennis shoes bought them!
(I wore them to work yesterday and I love them!!)

On Monday night we once again cheered on our Jayhawks, this time in the National Championship game against the Kentucky Wildcats.  They fell short, but did us proud!

On Tuesday we flew home--what a great trip!

Today, I found a link for the Kansas City Heart Walk.  I am going to put together a team and have set a fundraising goal of $2000.00.  I can't sign up until I have a team name.  Any suggestions???  I am so excited to do this on May 19.  This is very near and dear to my heart this year!  Anyone want to walk?  Let me know.  Once I have my team together, I will post the team link to sign up to walk and donate!

One thing I have learned by not going to the grocery store last weekend is that I really have to prepare the food on the weekends.  I have been struggling for food since I got home.  Shopping tomorrow!

I feel very good and on my way to skinny bitch.  I have lost 25lbs of the 55 I want to lose.  Yay me!!