Thursday, October 27, 2011

Go Red! (It's not just for baseball anymore)

While I was in the ICU in April, I pondered the need for therapy.  After all, I had survived a rare condition when the odds said my family should be planning my funeral.  I didn't, and still really don't, understand why I survived when so many don't.  My aunt Lisa, living in Nashville at the time, hopped online to figure out if there were other people like me. And bittersweetly enough, there are.  There are about 200 of us, all over the world, who've had SCAD during their monthly period, post-partum, in menopause or for no identifiable reason at all.  I appear to be the youngest.  There is a woman who had her SCAD in 1982 - she wears a medic alert bracelet even today, though many healthcare workers have no idea what SCAD is.  The "WomenHeart" Community on Inspire.com has been a better support to me than any therapist could have been.  They have stood in my shoes, felt the same pain and frustration, and have come back tougher and stronger.  Two of the survivors have worked so hard to raise awareness that the Wall Street Journal took notice in late August.  The Mayo Clinic is seeking SCAD survivors to participate in a study.  THAT is inspiring to me.  And this week, I turn on my TV (channel 5 was airing a heart health special) and to my awe and shock, one of these pioneering women was featured.  WOW.  So great.

As I mentioned a few posts back, a work acquaintance put me in touch with the local chapter of Go Red for Women.  Go Red celebrates the power and passion of women to band together to end heart disease and strokes.  Throughout the month of October, I have participated in a number of Go Red events.  I was asked to share my story at the Go Red board meeting, which I did yesterday morning.  As a fundraiser, I realize how important it is to tell your story - or find people who can share your "WHY".  As I walked into a room full of people (quite frankly, whose $$ I'd like to support SLLIS!), I was NERVOUS.  I have shared my heart attack with friends and family and through this blog, but hadn't spoken to a room of strangers yet.  However, once I got started, everything just came pouring out.  Not as eloquently as I would have like (or how I was able to write it), but I think I made the point.  Everyone sitting in that room needed to be reminded (inspired to action!) of why they choose to volunteer their time to GRFW.  At a recent survivor recognition event, I met a woman who has arterial spasms that caused her heart attack at the age of 30. Four years later, she has a little boy on the way and couldn't be happier. Hearing her story made me realize that I'm just at the beginning of mine (even though its been 6 months).  And because I survived, when so many others didn't, I'll keep sharing my story.  Maybe one day, SCAD will be a thing of the past like, oh I don't know, the plague or something.  Until then, I take comfort in the reality that I'm in the company of some amazing, AMAZING (AH-MAH-ZING as Penny on Happy Endings would say) women. 

So... the best medicine for me?  See below.  And the boa doesn't hurt either :)

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." - Karl Menninger

"When we honestly ask ourselves what people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate now knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." -- Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dissappearance of the gummy grin

My baby boy has a TOOTH.  This little white stub, barely a few millimeters through his gums, makes me feel like my little baby is going to be a little boy sooner rather than later!  Cameron will be seven months next week - how time flies.  He's sitting up on his own and tries to "play" with Mowgli...this involves Cam grabbing fistfulls of Mowgli's fur and yanking while Mowgli tries desperately to get away.  He is always laughing and is generally in a playful and inquisitive mood.  A dear friend of mine came over one evening to keep us company while Brian was traveling and while playing with Cameron, tipped him backward.  Now, Cameron's favorite "while-on-your-lap" game is flinging himself backwards and dangling upside down with his mouth open.  I think this is a sign of his adventurous nature (like his daddy).

Sunday mornings are my favorite family time.  After giving Cameron his wake up bottle, we always let him snuggle between us.  Inevitably, Mowgli will jump in too and make his home in a spot where Cam can't grab him and he can see the sunlight trickle through the blinds.  Cameron is quite the chatterbox in the morning - he coos and squeaks and caws as we let him stare at the spinning ceiling fan or gaze at his reflection in the mirrored closet door.  Usually, and MUCH to my delight, Brian is the first to get up- probably because he only has a small wedge of bed left but also to put coffee on and make a big breakfast.  Best. morning. ever.

Here's a few picture of my big boy!

Enjoying his twin cousins' birthday party!

First trip to the pumpkin patch!!

On our bike ride

 A great day at the park!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The middle

Six Months......

Six months ago, I was in the ICU at St. Mary's, eating a microwave dinner (because the cafeteria had closed) and nursing the worst headache EVER.

Six months ago, it was spring and I had a newborn and my breasts were painfully engorged because I hadn't pumped in hours.

Six months ago, I learned (the hard way!) that heart disease is the #1 killer of women (and men) in the United States.  More than the next four killers combined.  Heart disease will kill 1 in 3 women.... breast cancer? kills 1 in 10.  In my circle, there are two other women I know who've been personally affected by cardiovascular disease.... but I know that many, many more will be affected as I turn 30, 40, 50 and beyond.

Six months ago, every doctor I saw told me that I needed to make it a year without having another heart attack - after all, one of the biggest risk factors of having a heart attacks is having had a heart attack.  And for better or for worse, that was pretty much the only risk factor I had.

And now I'm half way.

The best parts of the last six months?  LIVING.

  • Watching my son learn, grow, babble, smile, laugh, cry. Every minute of my time with him.
  • Realizing that I have the strongest, most supportive husband a woman could ask for.
  • Knowing that I can (and will) make a difference in the world by sharing my experience.
  • Having the best family and friends who've brought us meals,watch Cam, kept us company, made us laugh and added a heart healthy component to their life.
  • Wine.  Seriously, red wine has never tasted so good :)
So... put 4/13/2012 on your calendar.  It's a Friday night.  And there's gonna be a party!

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, not the end.”― Ursula K. LeGuin