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.